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With the help of co-workers in the Puxico, Mo., school system where he is a custodian, Wayne Cryts has compiled his personal reflections of the events 25 years ago that propelled him into the national limelight, making him a Robin Hood hero to some and a bandit to others.
Cryts was a farmer when he helped organize the American Agriculture Movement in the late 1970s. When the Bootheel elevator storing his soybeans went bankrupt, Cryts defied federal agents and took more than 30,000 bushels of beans valued at $250,000. If he didn't get his money for the beans, he said, he wouldn't be able to plant crops in the rapidly approaching growing season of 1981.
Cryts' bold move captured the attention of farmers, federal authorities and state and national politicians. It also led to a drawn-out legal process that left him destitute, resulting in the loss of the family farm. Along the way, Cryts shared the stage with Willie Nelson and lost, by 8,000 votes, a hard-fought contest to be Southeast Missouri's congressman.
For some farmers and national agriculture organizations, Cryts remains a hero. Others take a dimmer view of Cryts' actions that plainly defied authorities -- judges, bankruptcy referees, federal agents -- at every turn.
Now Cryts tells his own story, from his own point of view, and with his own interpretation of the events and what they meant. He has just published a 141-page book called "One Man With Courage; The Wayne Cryts Story."
Read his story and judge for yourself, keeping in mind that hundreds of farmers with grain in the Ristine Co. elevator when it went bankrupt were in the same boat and took their lumps without resorting to the methods used by Cryts. Their story still hasn't been told.