I have written many times about our farm which was appropriately named Pine Acre Farm. This was the farm where I was born , raised and grew up. This was a farm that from all accounts had in the depression not been cared for and almost all the good top soil had eroded away. I guess that was why Dad bought it for a very low price. He then spent half his life building this farm back to not just a farm with top soil, but a farm that grew profitable crops every year. It was a farm with good buildings and a home in good condition and fences that Dad kept looking good. Dad and Mom and their three kids all knew just how much time, money, and labor had gone into making it more than just a farm. It was a farm that people pointed to and said “it would be nice to have a place like Ralph has.”
It wasn’t the place to display in the beginning but work and planning helped turn it into a good farm. One evening in the fall of 1962 a knock came on our door. Mom answered because Dad was away at a trustee meeting. There was a man at the door with a large looking photo album and a black carrying case. He introduced himself and handed Mom a business card as he explained he was a representative from the State Aerial Farm Statistics, Mapping Division out of Toledo.
In the previous months a plane had flown over and taken photos of our farm and he wanted to show them to us. This definitely grabbed our attention and curiosity. Mom invited him in and we all sat with him as he showed us pictures of our farm and explained what he was about to offer. He had a 5”x8” black and white picture of our farm that was pin point clear. That picture cost a dollar. However, we could own a 15’’x19’ full color portrait, hand painted and framed in a wooden frame with the wood of our choosing for only $60.
This was 1962 and $60 was a larger sum than it is today. Mom listened and studied that picture. I don’t know about now but at that time traveling salesmen didn’t carry a high pedigree at all. My Mom was a very frugal and a hard person to get a dollar out of, especially a stranger who she had not seen until maybe 15 minutes before he knocked on our door. To this day I still don’t really know why but my Mom said “I will take it.” He wrote up the order and they picked out pine wood for the frame (as it was Pine Acre Farm) and Mom wrote him the check.
All seemed well and Mom was happy with the deal until Dad came home. When she told Dad about our company and the transaction. Dad became very upset and for the first time and maybe the only time I witnessed my parents in an argument. Dad’s reason was that our visitor was a peddler from clear over in Toledo and he was positive we would never see a farm portrait or the $60. Mom argued back that she had checked his credentials and she just knew he was honest. This conversation continued for days and then weeks but always when we were out of hearing range because arguing in front of us was very bad.
About six weeks passed by and one evening a knock came at the door and there stood the salesman. Dad said he would go to the door. (By the way, Mom accompanied Dad). There stood the salesman with the portrait under his arm. He was invited in and offered a seat and in front of us all unwrapped the infamous photo. Dad wouldn’t admit it at that time but he immediately fell in love with that picture. So did we all. To keep his pride, he pointed out a couple of tiny flaws and the salesman assured Dad it would be corrected and returned in a week. What Mom saw in the picture was our farm looking at the very best it could look. She couldn’t express that to my Dad but she could see it all, even the huge amounts of labor that she and Dad had put into the farm.
Over the years many people have invested in an aerial photo of their farm or residence and display them with the pride in which they were designed to do. The remainder of my Dad’s life he kept that photo in close proximity. If a visitor made a comment about it, Dad would beam from ear to ear and tell of our farm on Fruit Ridge Road. He and Mom took that farm from the verge of forever lost to a majestic farm suitable to be painted in color and framed for viewing.
As a matter of fact when I look up from this keyboard I look right at the photo and I see a time and place that I will always look upon with happiness. Thanks Mom!
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.