Lately it has crossed my mind that when I think of my youth or early years or someone mentions something from those times, I not only think about the event but the vision that appears in my mind always comes to the same place. For me that place is a place or places from Fruit Ridge Road or a couple of the roads connected. That area is where I was born and where I grew up and spent more than 25 years of my life. That was my neighborhood.
We all started our lives in a neighborhood and in the 50’s, 60’s and even the 70’s our neighborhoods were the places where we felt safe and for the most part truly enjoyed ourselves as much as we ever did and will. To me when I have that mind flash, the trees and grass are always green, the sun is always shining in a clear blue sky. I am always with family, friends, or the farmers who made up my neighborhood. To me it was heaven on earth and a sanctuary where I could feel safe from harm and always welcome wherever I went.
I feel certain that most all folks and especially people from rural backgrounds understand what I’m attempting to say and in their mind also can see their neighborhood with good times going on in them. I won’t go so far as to call this Shangri-La but it was the place where I can say I had the best of times. For starters I had all my family there with me and we all were together in a time I hope I enjoyed and experienced as much as I think I did. These were prime time years that my parents and sister and brother were living in and I was smack dab in the middle of them and even though I’m sure I was a nuisance I hope I was a nuisance they loved. I mean I was cute and witty!
During those years growing up in the neighborhood I was a boy who liked to visit with all the neighbors and relatives that lived there. I found many times that there was more going on at their homes than ours and wouldn’t it have been awful if I had missed any of those events. Each person’s home or farm was unique in its own way and I liked to see them and compare them to each other. I would return home and report my daily findings to Mom and Dad and Peg and Ben. (Even if they really didn’t care as much as me.)
I would go from our house to Veve Winston’s house and see her canary. It was the only one I had ever seen. Then I would head over to Ed and Louise Maus’ farm and if I timed it right I was treated to a feast and spoiled a bit as they were brother and sister who never married and I think I became their adopted child. Onward then to Joe Bolender’s where he was good spirited and fortunately for me liked kids, even pesky ones like me, but Joe could return pesky with pesky himself.
I would make treks over to my Great Uncle Roy’s house and learn what he was up to as he was always busy and Aunt Ocie always made certain I got a piece of her grape pie. She might have been the best pie maker this world ever saw. Then back for a stop at Richard Davis’ farm to see how his team of horses was as they were the only team left when I was around. Just think about this. I walked to all these farms without someone to protect me and there never was a reason to worry for my safety as I was in my neighborhood and therefore always safe and loving every minute of it.
When I got older I made friends with Herb and Charlie Marshall and by this time I had moved up to bicycle transportation and it was a good thing as getting together was more frequent. Up the road from our house was Green Acres Farm, owned by my cousin Walt Houser. This was a daily event and as adults we batched together and farmed together for over five years. When I hit my twenties I met Sharon Parrish and we got married and set up housekeeping in the home where I was born. Life changed as we all know it does but through all this time the neighborhood did not. It was the back drop for me and a large part of my life to occur. (Sunshine, blue skies, green grass, and trees.) That is what still flashes in my mind just as positive things go through your minds.
A lot of time has passed and so has the old neighborhood as I knew it. My family has moved on as have most all my neighbors who I visited and shared time with. Even the background has changed a lot. The farms and well-kept fences are gone as has a lot of the barns and out buildings. If I drove through the old neighborhood I might even have a hard time recognizing it.
Time does move on so they say and it is true that things and people change. It is just a part of this world spinning. We all have moved on and not always for the worse. A lot has been for the good. Fortunately I can just stop and think of something or someone or somewhere from that time and I can see it all again as it was and in my mind as it always will be. Better yet I can stop that thought and continue enjoying the here and now. Remember it all and enjoy it always.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.