Thursday, December 1, 2011

Fruit Farm Fragrance - 1950s

Fruit Farm Fragrance - 1950s
Smells can invoke vivid memories.  Here are some farm fragrances I remember from the 1950s when I  lived on the farm and attended school in South Haven.
  • Edna and Bill's Basement - the smell of apples and potatoes stored on stairs under the bilco door, storm windows being caulked and painted red, musty damp dirt-floor storage area for canned goods, salt brine over flowing the ice cream maker, fuel oil furnace, clothes drying in the basement (Edna had a washer but not a dryer), fishing tackle box, and Grandpa Bill's cigarette smoke. 

  • Our Farm House - the smell of wood burning in the pot belly stove, wood storage room on back of house, hot water (heated on range) being pored into the cold bath water in the cold bathroom, then fuel oil (from Flemings) for the space heater and water heater, wet gloves drying on the space heater, vicks vaporizer, eggs and bacon cooking, laundry room clothes, plucking chickens, chicken being browned in a fry pan, canning fruit and canned goods stored in our Michigan basement.  Then there was the fragrance of the outback outhouse that Albert used sometimes so he would not tie up the house bathroom
  • Farm Equipment and storage buildings - the smell of rubber tires, hydraulic fluid, flooded tractor motors, grease guns, fertilizer spreader, spray dope (as we called it) storage area, piles of lime ready to be spread, rye and oats for seeding orchards, and the smell of the sour cherry lugs. 

  • Orchards and Fields - the smells from harvesting the different fruits, brush piles burning, fertilizers and sprays, damp orchard grass, dirt and dust from working the soil, rotting cauliflower, spring blossoms, Lake Michigan winds, and peach thinning smells and always the peach fuzz.
  • Barn - the smell of animals, dusty stored equipment, hay and straw, ropes, skunk, rust on equipment, and basketballs as we had a small court inside the barn.

  • Ratcliffe Field Locker Room -the smell of sweaty kids, sweaty dirty uniforms, musty showers, rubbing gels in the training room, tape for ankles, brown sticky tuff skin for blisters, rubber inside helmets, and equipment storage boxes.  I added these non-farm locker room smells so I could share the photo of us celebrating South Haven's first football championship in 1957 - yes in the smelly locker room.

    At The Farm December 1, 2011
    Let it snow.  The farm is ready for a long winter's nap.  Soil at the farm has been tested and lime and potash (potassium carbonate) spread in the orchards.  Allan has just gotten his pesticide license renewed.  This is required every three years.  He must obtain 22 credits by taking 15 to 20 classes during the three year period.  Tree trimming is ongoing.  The 5 kids are all playing basketball.  Aaron has made the Fennville varsity as a freshman.  Hope we get to see him play this winter.
    This past week Allan lost one of his fruit customers - Fred Meijer, age 91, the founder of Meijer Inc.  Many of Allan's apples end up in the big stores, including Meijer's.  For the past 6 years one wholesaler from the GR area made sure they got a bushel of Allan's Golden Russet apples and gave them to Fred for his homemade apple sauce.  I would assume Fred remembered the taste and fragrance of the Golden Russet from his childhood.
    May 2012 NOTE - The Russet photo above was taken by Adam of Adam's Apple's.  He informs me it is not "Golden" but "Roxbury Russet" a close cousin of the "Golden".  Adam produces a great blog all about apples.  Check it out at

      Tuesday, November 1, 2011

      November For Remembering

      November For Remembering
      Today (Nov 1) is All Saints' Day for Western Christians.  It is also granddaughter Evvy's 8th birthday.  Before the 600s A.D. a pagan festival was celebrated on Nov 1 as a time when the border between the dead and the living was especially porous and ghosts were believed to walk among the living.

      Other modern day November celebrations include Veterans Day and Remembrance Day in Canada (Nov 11) and Thanksgiving Day in the U. S. (Nov 24 this year).  All of these days are set aside for thanksgiving and remembrance of loved one, veterans and successful harvest.

      This month take time at a meal with family or friends to call out the names of loved ones who have gone on ahead of us.  These Saints helped mold who we are.

      Also, be mindful of the personal encounters or events you might be experiencing for the last time.  This could include a conversation with your favorite aunt or uncle.  You may be holding a new born or changing the diaper of a grand child for the last time.  You may be walking amongst the red woods or on a beach for the last time.  Cherish those moments and be thankful.

      Saturday, October 8, 2011

      Teacher June Pearl (1937-82)

      Teacher June Pearl (1937-82)  As a young girl June Pearl Evans helped maintain their one room school (Horseshoe) in Lee Township.  Homer Evans, her father, was the school director who hired and supervised the teacher.  After graduating from Bloomingdale High School in 1935 she attended Allegan County Normal for one year to become a teacher.  Those were the days of no federal and very little state control of education.  In 1937 she took her first full-time day job at the Crow School and was paid $65 per month.   Her 15 years of teaching in one room schools stretched from 1937 to to 1957 with 5 years off (1940-45) to potty train the two boys (Martin and Charles).  Crow, Brown, Iddles, and McDowell were her one room schools.  Classes were K through 6, 7 or 8 with school sizes ranged from 25 to 54 students.  She kept the fire burning and supervised hot lunches and recess.  She organized holiday celebrations with Christmas being the most elaborate.

      Mother continued to work toward her degree by taking summer classes offered by Northwestern, Western Michigan and Michigan State.  The year I graduated from High School (1958), she received her BS degree from Western Michigan University.  To finish her degree she was required to do student teaching at Paw Paw after having taught for 15 years.  One of her student teacher jobs was to teach the class how to swim.   That same year (1958) she started teaching at Lincoln Elementary in South Haven and taught 3rd or 4th grades for 25 years.  June Pearl Evans Overhiser (6-13-1917/3-3-1997) retired in 1982 at age 65 after teaching for 40 years.  She said this at her retirement: "I love working with children, it is very rewarding to have the opportunity to help shape an individual."

      Mom always had her emotions under control and never raised her voice or ever said a harsh word to anyone's face.  Maybe behind their back on occasion.  June made a lasting impact on her students, her family, her friends and her community.  She was a compassionate and caring teacher who was admired by her students and parents.  At the McDowell Christmas Program in 1954 she was given new luggage.  The parents knew that June, Albert, Martin and Chuck were spending Christmas vacation with Homer and Pearl Evans in Kissimmee Florida. 

      Here is what one of her students wrote on 6-6-1973: "I think you have been a nice and wonderful teacher.  I think you showed a lot of consideration to the whole class.  You may be 56 but you are still a wonderful and pleasant teacher.  Your age doesn't mean anything to me.  I hope Mrs Swanson is as good as you.  You have been the best!  Your friend, Sandy Mear

      At The Farm October 2011
      Apples, cider, pumpkins, squash and lots of other fall items are at the farm daily through the end of October.  During November the retail building will be open on weekends until Thanksgiving (Nov 5/6, 12/13 &19/20).
      Fall and winter farm work will continue --- repair and clean equipment and fruit containers, work on existing and new structures, trim trees, remove old orchards, and plan new orchards for spring planting.  Supervisor, Allan, has the Casco Township business to keep him occupied and Kim has the farm records and taxes to work on.  The five farm teenagers will keep very busy with their classes and activities.  "Oh how nice it is to be retired", this author said.


      Sunday, September 11, 2011

      Summer Memories

      Summer Memories
      Like a recurring dream, I fall asleep in June and wake up in September year after year after year.  June - summer starts, July - cherries, August - peaches, September apples and summer ends.  The basis for my dream started in the 1950's.  Is this a dream or am awake living through another summer reality show?  Some of my recurring summer dreams/memories include:
      • Green trees, blossoms, flowers, fruits and falling leaves
      • Dusty roads and farm lanes
      • Harvesting summer fruits
      • A huge dirt ring around the bathtub 
      • Family gatherings and big Sunday dinners
      • Playing, camping and swimming in the Black River
      • Drive-in restaurants and movie theaters
      • Bike rides to get a Pepsi at Riley's Store
      • Playing baseball and listening to the Tigers on radio
      • Cottage time for fishing and boating
      • Swimming in lakes, rivers, ponds and pools
      • Preparing for School
      As kids growing up on fruit farms in the 1950's we were fully involved in the harvest schedule.  Work was never done, just put off until the next day.  The family worked hard  but found times to play a bit.  I cherish the memories and am thankful I was part of a fruit farm family.  May we all harvest fond memories.
      Martin Overhiser September 11, 2011

      At The Farm In September 
      U-Pick apples, cider, pumpkins, animals and a whole lot more are at the farm.  Cider will be pressed this week and available weekend of September 20/21.  Plan a trip to the farm and visit South Haven or Saugatuck and walk the beach.  The kids are back in school and busy with sports.  Weekends throughout the summer were very busy so Allan, Kim and Lucy (retail sales) are enjoying a little slower pace. 

      Tuesday, August 2, 2011

      Celebrate The Peach

      Celebrate The Peach
      Growing up on a Casco Township farm in the 1950's meant you were surrounded by fruit farms and farm kids. In August, Peach Festivals were held at Leisure (64th street and 107th avenue). The Community Hall, the EUB Church and Riley's Handy Store were the center of activities. The Arlie and Harry Overhiser farm on the SE corner was turned into a display area for new farm equipment. Cookbooks full of peach recipes were available. Meals were served to celebrate the peach. The Casco United Methodist Church still serves those wonderful church dinners. All that remains from the fruit paradise of the 50's is a hand full of fruit farmers, the Church dinners and the memories that we survivors cherish.

      From 1924 to 1963 Stanley Johnston headed up the MAC/MSU Experiment Station at South Haven and hybridized the Haven peaches. He was obsessed with developing bigger and better fruits.  From some 21,000 cross-bred seedlings the Haven peaches were selected: the Halehaven, Kalhaven, Redhaven, Fairhaven, Sunhaven, Richhaven, Glohaven, and Cresthaven. Newer and "better" peaches have been developed by others.  The peach season has been extended because of new varieties. The main varieties grown by my brother are: Red Haven, Rising Star, Red Star, Flamin' Fury (and some PF varieties), Coral Star, Loring, All Star, Red Kissed, Glow Haven and several cling-stone varieties for processing and fresh fruit.

      Don't be fooled into thinking that peaches were the only fruit grown in the 1950's.  Sweet and sour cherries were harvested before the peaches. Pears and plums during peach time, and most apples after the peach.  Many early settlers brought seedling apple trees from their native states to Michigan. Early varieties grown in Casco were Yellow Transparent, Cutchess, Hubbardston, Golden Russet, Grimes Golden, Yellow Banana, Gravenstein and the Gray Stark. New varieties of fruits are always being developed. The Honeycrisp apple and the Flamin' Fury peach are just two examples.

      Casco fruit farmers also grew cauliflower, cabbage, pickles and cucumbers in their open fields or between the rows of newer fruit orchards.  My dad, Albert, being a farmer and truck driver obtained two large trucks with flat beds. He then hauled his cauliflower and other farmers produce to the Maxwell Street Market in Chicago.  Many a night was spent tying the load so dad could to take off around mid-night for the early morning market.
      Enjoy your August, MartinO

      At The Farm August 2, 2011
      Peach u-pick is in full swing at the farm and will be available through Labor Day. The Red Havens will be available after August 10.  Currently at the farm you will find all the ripe fruit and vegetables that are in season. Be sure to print out the u-pick 10% off coupons on the Overhiser Orchards website and check the receipt links such as  Slice ripe peaches and add cereal, yogurt, cottage cheese, ice cream, milk, blueberries or nothing.  With more effort you may freeze or can your peaches.

      The kids summer sports activities have concluded. County Fair preparations are just starting.  The boys new chicken house is completed and the girls a having fun co-managing the animal barn.  Two new alpacas have been added to the barn family at the 109th avenue retail and u-pick site. Eat Fruit.

      Tuesday, July 5, 2011

      1950s Fruit Farm

      1950s Fruit Farm

      We lived around the corner from the original farm.  Adkins were all around us (Harry, Roy, Art and Ray).  Aunt Doris, Albert's sister, married Clare Adkin whose parents lived next to us.  In the East Casco community everyone was related or connected in some way.  Our little 20 acre farm was the center of our universe.  Kalamazoo was the other side of that universe and Chicago and Detroit were like outer space.  We had several play areas on or near our farm.  Robert Stevens lived across the street.  We played Tarzan in his barn hay lofts by swinging on ropes.  We played basketball in our barn.  David and Larry Flora lived one half mile south near the junction of the Black River and Scott Creek  This was the swimming hole, camp site, and muskrat trapping area on occasion.

      Summers on the farm were very busy and filled with work, family gatherings and some play.  Depending on our age we picked cherries, disked up orchards, thinned peaches, hoed around young trees, raised pickles, helped mom with the garden and canning, and drove truck loads of fruit to the Michigan Fruit Canners or the Fruit Exchange Co-Op.  As "orchard bosses" Chuck and I assigned rows, spread lugs and crates, picked up the full containers, loaded the truck, and kept track of quantities picked.  We would end the day very dirty and dusty all over our farmer tans.  Our Indian blood helped keep us from burning. 
      Most of the peaches we raised were for sale to the canning companies.  Some peaches and most apples were taken to the Fruit Exchange and packed for sale as fresh fruit.  The sweet cherries were taken to the Benton Harbor Market.  We kids learned from Grandma Edna how to get the best price possible from the Chicago wholesale buyers when we got to travel with her to Benton Harbor.
      Bill and Edna spent the two weeks between cherries and peaches in mid-July at Loon Lake NW of Baldwin.  Their kids and grand kids would all spend a few days with them.  Grandpa Bill was a big bass fisherman.  He loved to do night casting and we kids would row the boat for him.  What a thrill it was to hear the splash when a  bass would attack the jitterbug or glow-mouse baits.

      At the Farm July 5, 2011

      The 4th has come and gone and we are now officially in the dog 40 days of summer.  Sweet cherry u-pickers were in the orchards in large numbers.  Next weekend will be the last of the up-pick sweet cherries.  Pitted sour cherries will also be available starting next weekend (July 9/1 0) at the farm retail location (109th Ave and 64th St).  Peaches are still being thinned with the early varieties coming on the last week of July.

      The kids are building a chicken coop on wheels to go with the petting barn.  Carpenter Leon Brush is helping them and teaching them how to build.  Resident animals include goats, ducks, geese, rabbits, chickens and kittens.  Plan a trip to the farm and Lake Michigan this summer.

      Friday, June 3, 2011

      1940s 4th Generation

      1940s 4th Generation
      In last month's blog, I wrote about white settlers pushing the Indians West.  Here is another side by John Wayne in 1971, "Our so-called stealing of the country from the Indians was just a question of survival.  There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians selfishly tried to keep it for themselves."  We will let the Duke have the last word about our Native American Heritage from the Evans side.  Now I will take you back to the 1940s when my parents (Albert and June) started a family by creating me, their first born.

      I (Martin Wayne Overhiser 7-11-40) was named after Martin Evans, June's youngest brother.  The Wayne may have been  borrowed from John Wayne because it sounded good.  Yes, good for calling out, "Martin WAYNE you get out of there".   Albert and June rented a house from Ray Adkin across the street from the Bill and Edna's 60 acre farm. That would be the farm Henry settled in 1863 and passed along to William Albert, Bill's dad.  Albert and June were the 4th generation farmers but did not take over the original farm site until after Bill and Edna retired.   My brother Charles Edward was born 14 months later (9-26-41).  June took off 3 years from teaching in one-room schools to train us in potty and other life long skills.  (Note - Brother Allan, 5th generation farmer, arrives in 1960.)

      Albert continued to drive truck and helped Bill and Edna with the farming when ever possible.  It was War time, but Albert was rejected because he had double jointed ankles.  He was always proud to show them off.  The ankles never bothered him.  He was always very fit and skilled at baseball in High School.  As an adult he played softball for Casco.  The whole community turned out for games behind Riley's Store.  Some times Riley would show a movie on his north wall after the games.  The Casco team played against all the teams in the area including the famous House of David in Benton Harbor.  The Casco Band (formed in 1928) was also very popular and still performs in parades and concerts today.

      When June lined up a teaching job for the fall of 1943 mom and dad bought the 20 acre Blanchard farm and house 1/2 mile east and 1/2 mile north of Bill and Edna.  T. C. Blanchard and family moved closer to Pullman where they owned the hardware store.  By going through Harry Adkin's farm to the south you could connect with the original farm, however, we just did not do that.  Gas was cheap and the dusty gravel road was a much better ride traveling between farms.

      Before Chuck and I attended the Iddles one-room school, Mrs. Kuney took care of us boys while June taught.  I started school in 1945 and Chuck in '46.  Mother June was our teacher until we both started attending South Haven in 1953 (MO 8th grade and CO 7th grade).  Mom then taught at McDowell School (53-54) and later joined the South Haven system at Lincoln School.
      At The Farm June 2, 2011
      Spring 2011 has been very wet and cool.  The fruit blossoms have survived nicely and should produce delicious and juicy fruit July, through October.  Allan is predicting sweet cherries will be ripe by the 4th of July but fruit will be later then last year  

      Next year Aaron will be in 9th grade and the quadruples will be in 8th grade at Fennville.  One of the kid's first summer farm chores will be planting pumpkins and squash.  By the end of the summer they may be looking forward to returning to school.

      Monday, May 2, 2011

      White Invaders - Early 1800s

      White Invaders - Early 1800s
      Overhiser Fruit Farm dwellers (5 generations) have much in common with our Native American ancestors. If you work the land and depend on the forces of nature you appreciate how Indians felt about Mother Earth. We now know that Albert and June Overhiser's 30 descendants have a small percentage of Native American blood. This blog will give you a better understanding of our ancestor, The Prophet.

      The Ohio and Kentucky Valley conquest was the greatest hurdle for national expansion in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Tensquatawa the Prophet (our ancestor) and his brother Chief Tecumseh led the defense against the invaders.  They forged a coalition of many tribes dedicated to protecting Indian lands and cultures.  Tribal communities were based on clan and kinship with deference paid to age, not wealth or station.  Women farmed, men hunted.  They valued sharing and reciprocity as a way of living.  Tribal homelands were hallowed ground held in common.  One package - earth, sky, rivers, lakes, mountains, meadows and all living creatures.  Euro-Americans viewed the land as wild, chaotic, and godless.  Each side thought the other to be savages. 

      Tensquatawa's preachings grew more militant and political from 1808–1811, as more young warriors from nearby tribes joined his movement. By 1811, both white settlers and the U.S. Army had become quite concerned about what was happening at Prophetstown on the Wabash.  Late in 1811, Tecumseh journeyed south to meet with other tribes in hopes of building a larger alliance.  According to legend, he left Tensquatawa in command and ordered him to avoid any confrontation with whites.

      On November 7, 1811, while Tecumseh was still away, Tensquatawa saw a vision and told the other Indians to attack the coming white people. The Americans were under the command of future President William Harrison. Tensquatawa's forces were soundly defeated. (See the Battle of Tippecanoe.) It was a two hour battle that left many Indians dead or wounded. The Indians buried their men in the night, and stripped The Prophet of his powers. The village at Prophetstown was burned and the defeat put an end to Tecumseh's hope of a broad Native alliance.

      The notion of "land exchange" was proposed as early as 1803, by President Jefferson (1801-1809).  The 1817 treaty with the Cherokee was the first that included Indians ceding land in the east for equal amounts in present-day Arkansas. Many other treaties of this nature quickly followed.  The earlier Indian relocations were done by purchase, force and coercion. The notion that Pioneers were heroes and Indians inhuman needs more balance by hearing more Indian voices.

      Tensquatawa and Tecumseh participated in the defense of the Canadian colonies during the War of 1812. In 1813 The Prophet was present at the Battle of the Thames, but fled with the British forces and was absent when Tecumseh was killed. In the following decade he unsuccessfully tried to regain a position of leadership. He had married Priscilla Perkins in 1795 and Marsha Bates (our ancestor) was born in 1814.  In 1825 he returned to the United States and assisted in removing many of the Shawnees west of the Mississippi. In 1826 he established a village at the site of modern Kansas City, Kansas. He died in 1836 at his village in Kansas City (located in the Argentine area; the White Feather Spring marker notes the location).

      Sources: Colin G. Calloway, The Shawnees and the War For America, 2007; wikipedia; and other Internet sites

      At the Farm May 2, 2011 - Blossoms
      Allan reports that this year is a "normal" old fashion spring with cool wet weather.  Fruit should be coming on at normal times rather than two weeks "early" as it was last year.  The fields are muddy but they were still able to plant 1000 new peach trees and 200 apple trees. If you drive to the farm between May 6 and 16 you will see fruit trees blooming: sweet cherries, peaches, tart cherries, pears, plums and apples.

      The Farm Family traveled to Hersey PA for spring break.  Aaron and Kim went on the 8th Grade trip to DC. Kelsy and Kortny are in soccer and softball.  Alex and Adam are playing baseball. Aaron is playing baseball and is on a travel basketball team.  Makes me tired just thinking about all the activities.   

      Friday, April 1, 2011

      Shawnee Prophet

      Shawnee Prophet
      Am I part Indian?  Do I qualify as a tribal member, so I can receive a share of my local Casino profits?  Many people have these questions.  We decedents of June Evans Overhiser had always believed we were part Native American.  The Evans-Indian link has been researched by Blanche Evans Wilkinson and others.

      Here is what we currently know.  Chief Tecumseh's brother Tensquatawa (1775-1836) was a Shawnee warrior and prophet.  Google him for details.  He had three wives and 20 children.  Priscilla Perkins and Tensquatawa had a child, Marsha Bates (1/2 Native Am).  Marsha had a daughter Juliette Cummings (1849-1925) (1/4thNA).  Juliette and William Misel had a daughter Dora Ida Misel (1870-1961) (1/8thNA).  Dora and Adelbert King had a daughter Pearl Mae King (1888-1971) (1/16thNA).  Pearl and Homer Evans had a daughter June Pearl Evans (1917-1997) (1/32thNA).  June and Albert Overhiser had three sons (1/64thNA).  These son's children would be 1/128th NA and the son's grand children would be 1/256th (0.39%) Native American from the Tensquatawa line.  Conclusion: us living descendants of Tensquatawa should not pursue Casino profit sharing unless you can prove more NA blood from other lines.

      If you are a descendant of this line, check yourself for Native American characteristics.  The photos in this blog show the prophet, Dora, Pearl and June.  Do you see Indian facial features?  Below is more information to help you determine if you have Native American features.  Happy hunting.

      The Native Americans originally came to North America by way of the Bering Strait land bridge that formed during the last ice age. These people were from Eastern Asia and Siberia and display Asian physical features.  Most have very dark brown or black shiny hair and an olive or darker skin tone with yellow undertones.  People of Asian decent like the Native Americans have projected cheek bones. So usually their cheek bones tend to be very high and quite pronounced, giving them a wide looking face. They also have a wide, almost half-circle shaped palate, which lends to the physical feature of very broad straight teeth, whereas Caucasians have narrower, more crowded teeth in general. Most have a fold of skin near the eyes by the bridge of the nose. This is what gives Asians and Native Americans the look of slanted, narrow, or small eyes, as well as a broader, flatter nose bridge.  Not all Native Americans will display these characteristics, but most do.  North American Indians comparatively look like the Inuit or Eskimos, while South American Indians may appear more Hispanic.

      For more information about Native Genealogy see this Laurie Beth Duffy article

      At the Farm April 1, 2011
      Sixteen year old Wes Leonard, a Fennville basketball player, died after scoring the winning basket in the last game of a perfect season.  His death has impacted the students and the whole community.  Aaron is best friends with Wes's younger brother.  Just another reminder that life is fragile and should be lived and cherished while we are here.  There will be time to rest when life is done.

      The next big visible event at the farm will be blossom time.  Keep tract of the blooming of your trees and do a drive by the farm.  Cherry blossoms are blooming in DC and Lucy and Martin are there taking it all in.  On the 27th of March 1912, President Taft's wife and the wife of the ambassador from Japan planted the first of Washington D.C.'s cherry trees.

      Tuesday, March 1, 2011

      Albert Meets June

      Albert Meets June

      In the 1930s, the Evans family loved going to Grand Junction, Michigan located between Saddle Lake and Silver Lake.  The white pine and hemlock trees first attracted the white man to this area.  The town was settled in the 1870s when it was known the railroads were coming.  The Grand Rapids to Chicago Pere Marquette and the Kalamazoo to South Haven Michigan Central Rail Roads crossed at Grand Junction.

      The Pottawatomie's still roamed the area after Grand Junction was established.  Chief Pokagon had these thoughts about the changes,  "our campfires have all gone out!  Our wigwams, and they who built them with their children, have forever disappeared from this beautiful land.  And where we walked in single file along our winding trails, now locomotives scream as they rush along their iron rails like beasts of prey!"  I understand his feeling.  When I return to familiar places I find overgrown fields, dark rotting farm buildings, buildings gone and deserted swimming holes.  As we zip through our life here on earth we do not get do-overs.  We change, friends changes, places change but we were there.  Celebrate those memories and God's everlasting love for us.

      As your travel guide, I will now start sharing farm history that occurred during my life time which started in 1940.  Click on photos to enlarge.

      Meet the Evans family in 1940:  William Henry Evans (1854-1928) and Ellen Adele Griffin (1855-1897) settled the farm where my grand father Homer (1887-1962) was born.  Adelbert (1858-1911) King and Dora Ida Mizel (1870-1961) were the parents of my grand mother Pearl Mae Evans (1888-1971).  Pearl and Homer raised 11 children on that farm and my mother June Pearl was in the middle.  The uncles used the Evans farm like a sportsman's club (fishing, hunting and poker playing).  Uncle Eddie (Ethel) Michaud, who work for Ford, always had a new car to show off at the Sunday gatherings.

      While Helen (June's sister) was attending Maher's Business School (1937-39) Helen dated Al Sankofski (Albert's best friend).  This led to Albert and June double dating with Al and Helen when Albert was home from hauling cars.  The dance hall in Grand Junction, was a frequent destination.  It may have been the same bar and dance hall where Albert helped Uncle Tobe remove his slot machines right after Prohibition ended.  Albert impressed Pearl and Homer Evans with fruit from the farm and June impressed Edna and Bill as a teacher.  Both fun-loving families pulled pranks on the young lovers while they were dating.  Grandpa Bill would often use poor English to test the teacher.  In the fall of 1939 Albert and June eloped to LaPorte, Indiana to get married.  After marriage they rented a house near the family fruit farm.

      I was in the 1940 Evans family photo but had not yet been born.  I was to become the third of 21 grand children for Pearl and Homer.  Ernie Butler Jr. and Carole Evans preceded me.  On the Overhiser side of the family I was the first of 16 grand children for Edna and Bill.  Can you get the picture of what Sunday gatherings at the Evans or Overhiser farms would look like.  Yes, there was lots of food, cousins, aunts, uncles, cats, dogs, chickens, turkeys, pigs and cows. 

      At the Farm March 1, 2011

      The family did get up north to Boyne Mountain for a ski and water park weekend.  Trimming of the apple trees is almost complete.  Trimming of other trees will continue all spring.  Tax records are being worked on and a new software program is being learned.  This program is for recording information on the application of chemicals.  These records are required by EPA and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and have been recorded by hand in the past.  Allan and his spray consultants are trained and licensed to apply chemicals.  They also set insect traps to more accurately determine what problems need attacking.

      Tuesday, February 1, 2011

      The Trucker and The Teacher

      The Trucker and The Teacher

      "Drove truck," and farmed is what Albert Wayne Overhiser (17Dec1916-2Dec2008)  would tell you he did as an adult.  In High School he was a very social guy and lettered in baseball 1933, 34 and 35.  His senior year he batted .414 and hit several home runs over the left field fence into the apple orchard at Ratcliffe Field.   Low pay or no pay profession ball had no appeal

      After High School, Albert and two older friends, Harold Lundy and Bob Winkle, headed for Detroit.  They found a rooming house and auto jobs.  Harold's father owned a car dealership in South Haven which helped them make connections.  Because Albert "drove truck" for the farm and fruit exchange he was given a job driving a car hauler.  It must have been scary for the young farm kid.  When trips would take him near the farm he would stop and show off his big rig.  For his siblings it was like something from outer space had landed.

      Before I tell you about how Albert started dating June Pearl Evans (13June1917-3March1997), you must visit the Evans farm.  Homer (no middle name) Evans (19Oct1887-21Apr1962) and Pearl Mae King (26May1888-19May1971) raised 11 kids (Ethel, Clare, Ralph, Florence, Maude, June, Helen, Lawrence, Robert, Blanche and Martin).  June's younger sister Helen was her life long best friend.

      Crops and animals were raised on the farm and every kid had chores.  The boys always hunted and fished for the table.  In the winter they trapped muskrats, mink and skunk for money.  Potatoes, carrots and cabbage were buried and dug up all winter.  Hams were smoked and meats, fruits and vegetables canned.  Pearl was famous for several of her special meals, such the wild game dinners (deer, pheasant, rabbit, squirrel, quail) to celebrate Homer's October 19th birthday.  June 25th (opening day) fish fry was also a big event.   After some big meals, Pearl would say, "I need to lay down and take a short nap".  The kids would then rush around cleaning up to surprise Mom.  Some Saturday mornings Pearl would milk the 8 to 10 cows rather than wake up the boys.

      Homer held jobs with the phone company, managed a liquor store in Allegan, sold cars and later sold real estate.  He was also the Horseshoe School Director and hired and paid the teacher.  The Evans family was paid $10 per month to clean, keep the fire and shovel snow at the school.  Saturday nights, after electricity arrived in 1935, the house was packed with people listening to the only neighborhood radio.  Pearl would make fudge and pop corn.  Adults in the living room listened to Lulu Bell and Scotty on the WGN Barn Dance out of Chicago.  Kids would be at the dining room table playing games.  On Sundays Homer would drive to Grand Junction, get the paper, and bring it back so the kids could look at the funnies while they were read on the radio.  Homer and Pearl did not attend Church but did send the kids to Sunday School at the home of a white bearded Mr. Orlandorff east of the school.

      June loved flowers and nature.  Helen remembers June making a beautiful flower display for a reunion at Horseshoe School.  At age 12 June started wearing black rimed glasses with gold trim because of nearsightedness.  After graduating from Bloomingdale, June attended County Normal in Allegan (1935-36).  Helen convinced her parents to let her room with June and attend Allegan High School because Helen thought the boys were better looking.  They roomed with Bob and Bee Ball.  Bob worked for Homer at the liquor store. 

      Great Aunt Maude (Homer's sister) may have been the one who encouraged college.  Great Aunt Maude had attended Augrabright Business School in Battle Creek, worked in Chicago, and married Great Uncle Ernie.  Their son Ernie married sister Maude which did cause some confusion.  Ethel attended Davenport College, Florence became a nurse, sister Maude and June attended County Normal, and Helen attended Mahers Business School.  Blanche and the boys got decent jobs right out of High School and did not attend college.

      In the fall of 1936 June got her first teaching job at the one room Crow School.  She roomed with a family within walking distance from the school.  One story she loved to tell was about her first day on the job.  Several of the boys were standing around the water pump outside the school.  Trying to engage them in conversation, she said "do you boys know how to work the pump"?  One of the boys replied, "any damn fool should know how it works" ...he must have thought, if she doesn't know how the pump works, this is going to be a Very LONG school year.

      At the Farm - January 31, 2011

      The farm family has been eating out a lot at school concession stands while attending sporting events.  Groundhog Day will be welcomed as it marks the mid-point between the winter solstice long dark nights and the spring solstice when days are half light and half dark.  Question is, how much snow will be receive?  Pray the sun returns so we will not need to cancel summer.  No sun, no ripe stuff from the farm.  We also need heat from the sun to ripen the fruit.  Two weeks ago the temps at the farm got down to -15.  Allan took some cuttings in the house and has been watching them bud out.  He thinks some of the buds may have been damaged.  This might result in Mother Nature thinning the peach and cherry crop.  I will keep you posted.