JUNCTION CITY, Oregon – Cleve Dumdi -- a 70-year-old respected sheep rancher, husband of a former county commissioner -- was walking in this small Oregon town one day when a longtime acquaintance hailed him from across the street.
"Hey Dumdi!," the man hollered. "Didn't recognize you with your clothes on!"
All proceeds from calendar sales go to the Junction City school district, which has had to give up at least three classroom teachers, art, music, gym class and field trips after recent severe state cutbacks in education budgets.
The calendar, which is being sold online for $17, is the latest gambit to raise money for local schools in a state where teachers already have lined up to sell their blood plasma and ranchers have auctioned off the rights to hunt for buffalo and antelope on their property.
"Anyone who knows fund raising knows you can't make enough on a bake-sale, and we have been jog-a-thoned to death," said Danuta Pfeiffer, the force behind the calendar and the wife of Mr. March, who obligingly posed holding up a well-placed pot of daffodils. "We'd do backwards handsprings if we could raise $25,000 from this, but we are dreaming of $75,000 and a movie deal."
She's not the first: the Helen Mirren (search) film "Calendar Girls," opening this Christmas and billed as a female "Full Monty," (search) tells the story of a group of prim ladies from northern England, who made a tastefully nude calendar of themselves doing various housewifely chores to raise money for leukemia research. The 2000 calendar sold like hotcakes, the ladies got endorsements galore, and suddenly, a pinup girl no longer automatically meant a sultry Baywatch babe.
Since then, their idea has been copied all over the globe, by everyone from firefighters in Vail, Colorado, to senior citizen belles in South Carolina, to raise money for causes from new community centers to breast cancer research.
The men of the Long Tom Grange think they are the first to drop their drawers for public education, though. Over the years, the local Grange, a social association of farmers, has made periodic contributions to the school district, such as a new oven for the home economics class or a saxophone for the band. But the current situation, they thought, called for more drastic measures.
There was some hemming and hawing. Dumdi, for example, had to be nudged into posing by his wife, then tried to show up for his photo shoot wearing swim trunks.
Mr. November, aka 53-year-old mushroom hunter Al Hasselblad, acknowledged he also felt "unnatural" stripping down in front of the male photographer for his shoot, in which he is shown crouching to cut down some especially delectable fungus.
There was some jockeying among Grange men for month position too -- centerfold Mr. June, for example, scored that prime spot because he was set to pose hoisting a bag of golf clubs, and June is lovely weather for a round of golf. Chris Shown, Mr. September, laid claim to his month because that's when the grapes ripen at his Junction City vineyard; he is pictured artfully draped in grape leaves, holding up a glass of Oregon pinot noir.
The calendar is big news in Junction City, where Pfeiffer plans to hold calendar signings and rallies. The project has drawn a few angry letters in the local weekly, accusing the men of moral indecency, especially after the picture of a local school board member ran on the front page -- Mr. August in all his glory, naked but for a pair of backless chaps and a lasso slung over his shoulder.
Still, there's been far more enthusiasm than complaints; Pfeiffer already has 500 pre-orders from locals.
"This one 80-year-old lady said to me, 'When is that calendar going to be actually published? Because I am a snowbird, and I want four copies before I leave for Arizona,"' Shown said.
The wives, meanwhile, are thoroughly enjoying themselves. Ellie Dumdi is mulling using her husband's nude portrait as their yearly Christmas card. She said her only regret is that the men insisted on covering up their behinds with caps and cowboy hats when shooting a from-the-rear group portrait for the back of the calendar.
"I thought we were going to have a competition to see who had the best-looking tush," she said.
Mrs. April, Joyce Engels, whose husband posed holding a banjo, is hoping his calendar appearance will help generate some interest in their musical duo, the Tin Ear Twangers.
"We've already got our first paying gig, at a retirement home next month," Engels said.
Still, all the men and their wives agree the calendar is a one-time only offer; they're hoping that by this time next year, the state's school funding situation will have stabilized.
"This is just a Band-Aid until the Legislature gets it right, until the state of Oregon figures it out," Shown said. "Maybe we will set an example for others to do something."