Memories on Memorial Day A soldier’s story, a family’s grief Thank You for your sacrifice Seaman community honors local veterans with special tribute Former PES teacher dies in tragic accident All County Senior Citizens Day celebrated Parks signs with SSCC Soccer Senior Profile: Lexie Bunn Jessie Rodgers Memorial Day services set for county Truly our greatest generation Bertha Lashley Maia Swartz Jessie Rodgers Errors spell the end of Devils’ baseball season Senior Profile: Carry Hayslip Lady Hounds’ season ends with tourney loss to Paint Valley North Adams hosts Youth Volleyball Camp Time to get “Stroke Savvy” OVCTC, GE host Community Service Day 65 years in the pulpit Jamison, Richmond, Minshew conquer second race of 2017 Brushcreek season Manchester’s Cox signs with Rio basketball program Senior Profile: Andrew Weeks A dozen SHAC champions Thomas D Lute Sandra F Schwab Turning something broken into something beautiful Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide One dead, two injured in ATV accident 2017 Graduation Ceremonies West Union Alumni and Friends Educational Fund announces 2017 Scholarship Awards TAG students tour Pennsylvania Commissioners proclaim Older Americans Month Building an anti-drug culture one t-shirt at a time SECTIONAL CHAMPIONS NAES students awarded Science Camp scholarships SSCC’s Associate Degree Nursing program celebrates graduation Bauman selected to National 4-H Congress Lois Pertuset Hazel Nixon Philip L Paeltz Manchester Youth Volleyball Camp begins May 30 Jase Thatcher Figgins’ walk-off winner sends North Adams to Division III sectional finals Lady Hounds top East 10-3 in sectional opener Commissioner Pell, union reps travel to DC Forgotten experience brings back good memories for WUHS seniors Gordon Boldman Local teen injured in jeep accident BCI Investigation underway Rick Arnold Happy Mother’s Day- Do you want food? Robert Hodge Melvin Tipton Lady Dragons Basketball Camp begins May 22 Lady Devils Basketball Camp is May 30-June 1 National Day of Prayer celebrated in county NAES students enjoy day at GABP Car strikes Amish buggy near Winchester Eldon J Shoenleben Farming out life lessons to children and parents Proposed Medicaid changes could cost Adams County millions Annual ‘Redneck Run” returns to Manchester May 13 They really were the best of times West Union hosts Junior High, High School County Track Meets Figgins signs with SSCC Soccer Perfect again! Senior Profile: Caley Grooms James T Hughes Anderson signs with Rio Grande Basketball Senior Profile: Miranda Schiltz Playing for Dad, Part II Lady Indians win SHAC Big School title Danny Bryant Sadie Stamm Franklin E Brayfield Softball, baseball tourney match ups announced Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall coming to Georgetown next week Southern Ohio Genealogical Society offers program on ‘Family History Sources at the Ohio History Center’ Joseph A Johnson Jr Kramer tosses two shutouts in five days Trip to Akron = two more wins for Lady Indians softball Devils blank Dragons in non-conference battle Meade twins part of Rio baseball program Playing for Dad Senior Profile: Madison Welch As Mr. Seas It, for ACOVSD High School graduates We stayed up all night with Bob Clean up of Manchester’s abandoned gas stations continues Ribbon cutting held for canoe/kayak access sites Columbus Industries donates driveway repair to Animal Shelter North Adams Elementary recognizes March Students of the Month Animal Shelter Adoption Center announces new hours of operation Major road construction planned for summer months West Union Elementary honors March Students of the Month Charles D Jordan Betty Ginn Pamela M Hampton Former county sheriff celebrates 80th birthday

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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