Missing Adams County man is found Lady Hounds fall to Whiteoak in slugfest Calvert’s walk-off gives Hounds 9-8 win over Whiteoak Charles A Benjamin Give My Regards to Broadway Joyce Berry Joe L Easter William E Foster Margaret Belcher John M Cheatham Ronnie Simpson Under new management county hospital is thriving against all odds Historic fairground gazebo demolished One year later, still no arrests in Rhoden family murders There will be trouble in River City! Monna L Fitzgerald Jesse Carrington Janice M Sowards Rhoden family members make plea for tips in Pike Co murders of loved ones Quilting – the art that’s no longer just for Grandma Young is Adams County recipient of Franklin B. Walter All-Scholastic Award Wenstrup recognized as Community Health Advocate Ready, set, go! 25th annual Egg Hunt draws hundreds Applicants needed for Adams County Fair Queen Humane Society encourages responsible animal ownership ACCS holds annual Science Fair Peebles Elementary names March Students of the Month Pierce fires perfect game as Peebles blanks West Union Hunters preparing for 2017 Wild Turkey Season Lady Hounds fall 12-3 at Lynchburg Dragons lose early lead, drop SHAC match up with Fayetteville, 13-6 Senior Profile: Isaiah Anderson Devils roll to big SHAC win at Ripley Despite soggy night, WUHS hosts annual Invitational Meet Celebrities for a night George F Carr Jr Teresa S Hoskins Mary B McClure Richard B Collins Randall D Fetters Former Manchester officer indicted on five counts WUHS student wins state Beta Club Secretary’s seat OVCTC students part of state competition S.R. 73 closed for culvert replacement Peebles Lions Club holds first Easter Egg Hunt Weyrich graduates with honors from Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics North Adams Elementary releases Honor Roll for Third grading Period Scholarships available from Jefferson Alumni Olympic athlete speaks at April 6 SAAM event Venture Hawks end their basketball season with a victory at WUHS Devils baseball sweeps doubleheader from Northwest Greyhounds gain SHAC split, split twinbill with East England signs with Rio Grande golf Pierce fans 16, Lady Indians blank Eastern Brown 4-0 Maybe somebody on the river does have a plan Senior Profile: Ryan Dryden Enjoying the view Still a time for celebration Carl R Brown Lena R Staggs Adams County Crews Schedule Culvert Replacement Projects Merlan Shoemaker Dwayne E Thompson Help is on the line! West Union Elementary honors February Students of the Month WUHS hosts 2017 All-County Arts and Music Festival Ohio Brush Creek Canoe/Kayak Access Grand Opening set for April 20 Kasich cracks down on opiate-based prescriptions West Union High School students have successful trip to State Beta Convention North Adams Beta Club excels at State Convention ACRMC hosts annual Health Fair Robert H Bushman Senior Profile: Skylar Newman Nine-run inning leads Lady Hounds to run rule win over West Union WUHS foursome breaks school record First county baseball battle goes to the Greyhounds On the road, Lady Indians pick up two more SHAC victories Senior Profile: Christa Williams One more ‘shining moment’ for SHAC seniors at C103 All-Star Game Esie M Chandler Phyllis Adkins Former Manchester police deputy faces Grand Jury Indictments Cornell tosses no-hitter, Fenton goes deep, Dragons open season with 11-0 SHAC win over Whiteoak New Verizon store opening in West Union Stephen R Palmer Dual culvert replacements for SR 73 Deana P Grooms Tim Phipps Marcella Walker Alvin R Mitchum Senior Profile: Chase Darnell SHAC hoopsters shine at District 14 All-Star Game Greyhounds run rule St. Pat, 15-0 Indians drop SHAC opener West Union hosts early JH Track Meet North Adams student wins state Beta Club President’s seat Anna B Copas Charles A Nelson Nation’s #1 movie comes to stage Artectis hosts grand opening

The cash crop of an era

Our family farm was located approximately three miles north of Moscow on gently rolling to hilly farm land. Land that was good for pasturing cattle, raising hay and corn but first and foremost the land was great for raising tobacco, the cash crop of the farmers of the area from Clermont but more in Brown and Adams County and all over Kentucky and Tennessee. When I was growing up in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, White Burley tobacco was the mainstay of each and every farm family. Our family was one who raised about 12 acres or 25 to 30 thousand pounds. The only way I can tell how this crop was raised was in the true facts for each farmer and that was it took over a year to raise a crop from start to finish and this took literally thousands of hard labor hours. There was not one easy aspect to growing tobacco but when the crop sold the farmer felt a secure feeling for another year.

This time of year brings back to mind the housing season. This was when the crop was cut, speared onto a stick, and hung on a rail in a barn to air cure. This procedure was repeated from mid-August until the end of September or even later. Housing tobacco called on the need for several hands to harvest this green plant and place it safely into a barn where the leaves would dry and become a dark red to a light buff color before moving it onto the next step in bringing the crop to an end.

I was cleaning out my very much needed garage a few weeks ago and found the tobacco knife that I had used for more than three decades. I couldn’t find the spear that one had to have to complete the process of cutting tobacco. To see that tobacco knife brought back the many memories of the mountains of hours of taking a step, bending ,chopping a stalk, rising up and putting the stalk on a stick with the use of the spear. Doing this on hot afternoons, stalk after stalk, hour after hour, and day after day was very hard manual labor that that needed a degree of skill.

This brought back the memory that I wasn’t alone as I worked alongside other men repeating the exact procedures as myself. As you were doing this procedure you felt you body ache and felt the sweat run into your eyes, but this was only the first part of housing tobacco.

After the tobacco lay in the sun for at least an afternoon and became wilted enough, the filled sticks were loaded onto a wagon and hauled to a barn where a crew would climb into the barn to straddle the rails to receive the sticks passed up to them. Once the men were positioned and ready to hang the tobacco aperson on the wagon began the process of taking the sticks off the wagon and passing them up into the barn one stick at a time until that stick would reach its destination. Although there wasn’t the hot sun beating down on you, the hours of standing straddle on the tier rails as the barn became hotter from the heat of the tobacco and the sun beating down on the metal rooves wasn’t pleasant. This too went on stick after stick , rail after rail, for hour after hour.

I must admit the way I have described housing tobacco doesn’t sound very romantic or even give cause for a good memory but there was something about how men working hard for the same reason and the visible results of thousands of sticks of tobacco revealing the results of your labors was satisfying to me. During my years of working in tobacco as a grower and working for other growers I enjoyed housing tobacco. I by far am not in the minority of those who enjoyed working in it. I guess seeing the result of your labors brought satisfaction to me.

Today a person can travel the entire tobacco growing area and probably not see any of this going on. They won’t see the patches of tobacco or the barns with the burley hanging in it as the crop has become almost a thing of the past. Tobacco has become a word that symbolizes an era past. Yes, there are a few large fields still being grown but farming today is done with less farm hands and less manual labor. Things are much more automated and that leaves tobacco on the sidelines.

For me in my years of farming, it was a crop that farmers put forth with pride and effort. Crazy as this sounds tobacco in the barn or even the patch has a distinct aroma to it. It is not a smell one wants to be around permanently but it was a smell that I enjoyed inhaling as I knew I was housing tobacco.

Times have changed and as always not for the worst, just changed, and we have to except the change or be left behind. I look at my tobacco knife and let it bring back those days gone by and am a little sad but to be honest that was then and this is now. I am without regret that I no longer see this procedure. One thing a cousin told me is that George Clooney cut tobacco and he said “we have something in common and am pretty sure it will be the only thing.” There are a lot of us that have that common bond forever.

Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and likes to share stories about his youth and other topics. He may be reached at houser734@yahoo.com.

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Rick Houser

The Good Old Days

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