By Rick Houser –
I am not really just certain why this came into my mind but it doesn’t matter. I talked my Dad into allowing me to raise a crop of tobacco at the age of seven. Since my sister Peg had a crop and my brother Ben had a crop, I just felt I wasn’t a part of this family if I didn’t have a crop. Dad did this with his children so we would have cash in the bank when we became old enough for college or to buy a car or both and since it was in our names we had to file taxes and pay at least Social Security and he didn’t. There were terms I had to agree to with Dad just as my siblings did, we had to work for each other in their crops and they would help us too. Since I wasn’t big enough to deliver labor as much as needed, I would have to have the cost of hired help taken from the gross profit of my crop. This part I really didn’t much care for but they were Dad’s rules.
So in 1957 I got a crop on Bert Begley’s farm that was an allotment of .63 acres. When the crop sold I was handed a bank book with the amount of 175 dollars in it. On that day I became in my view equal to the rest of the family and anyone else who raised a crop. I was then and there a working man. Over the following years growing up on our farm I took on many a crop and raised a lot of livestock. I went to the fields whenever the others did and carried my share of the labor every day. There wasn’t a member of the family or in the neighborhood that thought I didn’t deliver on my share of the work.
For this I was proud. The truth was I never thought I was over- producing or trying to get great acknowledgements. I just wanted to be accepted as one of the workers. So day after day and week after week I showed up and carried my weight. I felt then and still do that it is important that everyone knows you will be there. I thought it then and I have always tried to keep that same feeling all these years.
When I reached the age of 21 I got a job working as a teller in the bank in Felicity and then was transferred to the Milford branch and then to the Batavia branch where I worked my way up to Assistant Vice President of the bank. I never thought I was trying for that position but one evening I got a call and was told that I now had that position due to the solid delivery in my work. I was stunned and proud but you know what? I went to work the next morning at the same time because a good worker is a consistent one. Also, during these years I was still farming and had married and my wife and I carried the farm along with our day jobs.
Also my Dad became a real estate broker and I joined him as a real estate salesman and later I too got my broker’s license and we became partners. (By the way I am still a licensed broker and have a company although very small.) It was just work you know.
After five years in the bank I left and went to work for the Human Services Board in Batavia. I was hired as the Fiscal Control Officer and did so for five years. This job was a real challenge to me and I feel I was important in improving the record keeping section of the business. I went early and I would stay late and still was working on our farm. But I didn’t do this for a pat on the head. I did this because that was what I thought I was supposed to do. Eventually things changed in Batavia and I felt the need to move onward and was hired at Brown County General Hospital where I supervised the Business office for more thanthree years. I know this sounds redundant but I still would put in hours on the farm. There was something about going back to do some farm work that I liked. I have always felt it is impossible to get all the dirt out of my shoes.
In 1982 I sold my brother and a partner a nursing home in Bethel and they hired me to manage it. Later that year they bought another one and I became a full-time manager. Thirty seven years later those two homes are still family-owned and I am still there. It has been a seven day a week and 24 hour a day job, but it has been a good long run and I have to say I have really enjoyed this job. Thing is I have enjoyed every job I have worked. Sometimes the duties weren’t the best but I still had a job. Now I look back at the past 52 years and even though I never held these jobs to impress folks, I was a man who always had a job.
What I did do was keep that bank account open. Barely sometimes, but I did get married and we raised a daughter and a son that we are so very proud of and I am also the grandfather of four grandchildren and a fifth one due in just a few more months. Sometimes when I have been asked what I have done with my life I have smiled and said, “I have invested strongly into the future.” Just think I have been carrying a Social Security card since I was seven. Not too many people can say that.
I am a man who has worked all of his life. I have not really tried to point that out very much as I feel it is just a responsibility for everyone. I know my parents and I guess my Dad mostly taught me that to work is to be doing the right thing. I guess the Social Security card is my biggest visible reward for the past half century plus. Over these years I have seen and learned and done a lot of things. If I don’t leave home in the morning my wife is asking me what is wrong becauseI have always been on my way and she is used to me going to work.
Two things remain. I don’t know what it is like to not be employed and I still don’t know how to apply for unemployment.
Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and loves to share stories about his youth and other topics. If you would be interested in more of his stories he as two books published. “There are Places I remember” and Memories ARE from the Heart.” He can be reached at email@example.com. Or P.O. Box 213 Bethel, Ohio 45106.