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.