By Rick Houser –
Maybe you have never noticed, but if you have then you know what I am about to speak of. What was a common style of roof in my early years has since returned to being in style on the new roofs that you see today.
I am speaking of metal roofs. I grew up in an old brick farm house that was far past 100 years in age and the roof was one made of corrugated metal. There were 13 buildings on our farm including the house and they all were made of corrugated roofing. (That is a lot of aluminum to look at on a sunny day.) But something that always comes to my mind was the days when it rained. Since my room was on the second floor, I was closer to the constant beat of the rain beating on the metal. Many popular songs mention the “rhythm of the rain” and just nice and calm it was to listen to. The truth is that they are all correct.
In the summer when it rained, I would fall fast asleep. If the wind was blowing a little and the rain hit the windows along with the roof, it was a true symphony I laid there and enjoyed it all as sleep would carry me into a peaceful rest most of us probably wish for these days.
As a boy I would bundle up and head up to our big barn on the hill behind our house. I called it a multi-purpose barn because it had a milk stable under one hay loft and a horse stable at the back of the other hay loft on the upper side of the barn. We also would hang tobacco in the driveway and in the very top of the barn. It even had a wheat bin right inside the front door. Just think of this. A barn with two hay mows was and still is a big barn. On winter days when the weather was too poor to be outside, I would head to the barn, or as I liked to think of it, “my play house”.
To me and many other little boys a hay mow was the place to be, especially on rainy days. I would organize bales of hay to simulate a fort and I would carry out my pretending from there, with bales all around me and bales over my fort to serve as a roof. This also served to keep me warm for the time of year it was.
On rainy days when the rain hit on the roof like a drum, you could lay there and listen to the water form rivulets on the corrugated roof and form a pattern and if I were to pause in my playing and listen, it was safe to say I would soon be lulled into a brief nap. Oh how I so enjoyed those times in my play house. There wasn’t a kid in any city that had a play place that could match that big ol’ barn on the hill.
I recall when we would be out working in a field and a sudden storm would pop up and drive us inside the nearest barn that we could find for cover. When it’s summer time and the barns are for the most part empty, a hard rain would hit on the metal roof with a deafening sound. I have stood inside a barn and felt glad that I was in out of the storm, but man was that rain on the roof loud! I
In fall of the year, a rain would come and tobacco would come in what we called “case”. We would drive to a barn and climb upward, dropping the sticks of tobacco to the barn floor so we could bundle it to take to the stripping room. I recall that as we continued to remove the tobacco and the barn became emptier and we moved higher up in the barn, the rain outside would become louder and louder. As a barn neared empty, the rain almost echoed on the roof.
These days I don’t farm so the need for rain isn’t near as much as it was in my younger years. In the summer you want your yard to stay green and if you have a little garden you want it to produce. After that, rain can be pretty much unnecessary. I can recall complaining that a rain was needed so we could drop some tobacco to strip. These days there is hardly any tobacco to worry about.
From the 50’s and 60’s, the new homes built almost always came with a shingled roof. That was a sign of the times and kind of a status symbol, but over the last decade I have noticed more and more new homes being covered with metal roofing. No, they aren’t in aluminum but in a variety of colors and of course cost more, but they are promised to last a long time.
There is one thing for certain and that would be that no matter an old house roof, a barn roof, or a new roof, when it rains the sounds are going to always be just as pleasant. I work in an old historic landmark building in Adams County and it has a metal roof. When it rains, the memories come flooding back to me. Who knows maybe if I thought I could get by with it, I might try to slip in a little nap. Just maybe!
Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and loves to share stories about his youth. If desired he might be able speak to your group. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org