Poverty Acres

  (Washington Court House, Ohio)
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Always the Darkest just before Light


           Always the darkest just before light

  Uncle Charlie said I should write a book and the truth is I probably could. I was born on a dairy farm just eight miles east of Johnstown, Ohio. Any dairy farmer could tell you it really gets the darkest just before dawn. I have seen it so dark you can not see your hand when you put it an inch from your face.

   It is a lot like life itself. I can not count the times my life has looked so dark I wondered if I could survive until something good happened. I remember my life starting at about three years old on the farm. I was with my Dad in the hay field picking up the smaller size round bales we had then. I was setting on an Allis Chalmers tractor with a hand clutch. My Dad would pull the clutch handle to pull the tractor and wagon forward to the next bales. One time he got off, picked up the bales and tossed them on the wagon, and then I pulled on the hand clutch. Man was he shouting at me! Then I pushed it forward and stopped. When he realized I could do it properly, that began my work with him on the farm. Imagine – three years old – people would file charges against him today. They was some of the happiest days of my life.

  He bought me my own tractor when I was seven, yes I was seven years old! It was a Farmall H International. The neighbors had Farmall M’s and he new I liked them. They had glass pack mufflers and would gun the engines to impress my sisters when they passed the house. My Dad took the exhaust muffler off mine and put a straight downspout on it. It sounded like a hemi. People heard me for miles and many neighbors complained I was too young for that.

  One day, while I was still seven, I pulled an older steel wheeled two bottom plow from behind the barns to the barn yard area. My Dad was gone some where so I cleaned it up and painted it green. When he got home, he was mad that I was on the tractor without him being around. Then he looked the plow over and said, "You know Bub – I think we have some new plow shears for that in the old shed". He found them and we put them on the old plow. He told me I could pull it through the fields, but because of the steel wheels, I could not take it on the roads. He would set the depth on the plow with the hand levers. For the next couple of years, he would plow with the Allis and I on the Farmall. I can still remember us stopping when the sun was up so high in the sky and listen for my mom ringing the dinner bell. I can still smell the fresh plowed ground like it was yesterday. I have cherished those two years all my life.

  On October 28, 1963, I was nine at the time, my two oldest sisters and I were to find my dad bent over in a corn picker. His body was there but daddy was gone. A few days later one of his favorite presidents was shot and killed in Dallas, Texas. Thus began the first darkest time of my life, but may define who I am today. Do accidents change our world? Is there light after the darkest hour?

Got work to do for now, but will continue the search for light later. Happy New Year to all our Poverty Acre Friends. May 2010 bring great light!


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