With Sunday being Father’s Day, I am taking a week break before finishing the articles on track and field.
The last article that I wrote about Father’s Day was when I turned 70 in 2008. My father, Raymond Creps, was almost exactly 30 years older than me as my birthday is June 7 and his is on June 14, almost 30 years apart, which would make him 112 if he were alive today. My dad died in May of 1994 at the age of 86, and I was 56.
It is hard to believe that I turned 82 two weeks ago. Here is a look at the 82 years with some of the events and my Father.
Last Sunday morning as my wife Bev was driving us to church in Snake Spring Valley, we passed my home place where my sister, Evelyn, lives. The smell of freshly cut hay was in the air. As we turned right onto Perrin Road, I looked across the fields where the hay was cut and my mind went back over 75 years into the past. I could see my dad pitching the loose hay onto the wagon where my mother was stacking the hay. I thought to myself how times and things have changed.
During the week, my mind kept going back in time as I remember my dad on this Father’s Day and my years on the farm.
The first six years of my life, we lived in the house, where I was born, which is on the crossroad, now Dibert Road, in Snake Spring Valley. We had no electricity and, of course, no indoor plumbing.
I remember one event as it was yesterday. When I was five years old, I was playing with the two neighbor boys about my age, Jim and Darrell Calhoun, who now live in Ohio, in our car in the garage. We were pretending like we were going to Johnstown. I knocked the car out of gear, and it drifted out of the garage into a ditch. The neighbor boys ran home. My mother was in a rage and said “Wait till your dad gets home. You will get a good licking.”
My dad worked on my Uncle Roy Creps’ farm about a half mile away. When I saw him walking home, I panicked. After talking to my mother and seeing how much damage was done to the car, he turned to me.
He said that it was a good thing that no one got hurt and several other choice words, but I didn’t get a licking. I could tell by what he said and the way he looked at me that I would never do anything like that again. I can’t remember ever getting a licking from Dad, but that was a long time ago.
A year later in 1944, we bought a dairy farm on the Upper Snake Spring Valley Road about two miles from Route 30. My Dad did not have much money, but a neighbor, Jacob Hershberger, loaned him the money and told him to pay it back as he could. There were no signing of papers, just a handshake. Years later I remember how happy my mother and father were when we got the loan paid back. My dad always added some interest with each payment he made.
The house had electricity, but no indoor plumbing. The milking was done by hand as mom, dad, and I each had our own cows to milk.
Today, I was thinking about making hay again. This is something that I helped dad with even after I got married. For the first 15 years on the farm, the only tractor we had was a Ford, which we still have at the farm. In the first years, my dad would mow the hay, and after it was dry, he would rake it with a dump rake. The dump rake would gather the hay together and then dad would pile it. Dad would then use a fork to throw it on the wagon, and Mother would then stack it.
I remember one incident in particular. I was driving the tractor, probably around eight years old, and dad was loading the wagon. One of the plies that dad threw on the wagon had two black snakes in it. My mother never likes snakes, and she was off the wagon in a big hurry. Dad had to get on the wagon and throw the snakes off. He did not kill them, because he always said that if there were black snakes around, there would be no rattlesnakes there.
When the loaded wagon was brought to the barn, my older sister, Mary, was to bring us two quarts of water — one for dad and the other for the rest of us. The wagon was unloaded in the barn with a big hayfork. The fork was attached to a huge rope and a pulley to the rafter, and Mother stuck the fork into the hay. The rope was pulled by the tractor bringing up the fork to the rafter and then to the hay mow where dad would stack it.
After several years, we bought a hay loader and a rake that raked the hay into a window. The hay loader would pick up the hay and carry it up like an elevator onto the wagon. It was a big improvement, as now my dad and I could load the hay. It was unloaded the same way as before.
In 1953, dad bought a hay baler. At first we left the bales fall on the ground. We had to pick them up and put them on the wagon. In the barn we threw them into the mow, but we always stacked them on the wagon and also in the mow. This was my weightlifting for football.
In years to come, we went to pulling a wagon behind the baler and later to a kickback baler, which threw the bales unto the wagon. We also got an elevator in the barn to take the bales up into the haymow. This led to one person doing the baling and another unloading the wagons. My dad never went to round bales that many farmers use today. He never liked the bales left on the fields.
One of the things that we did for several years always amazed me. In the spring of the year, we would drive the young cattle, usually about 20, about five miles along the Upper Valley Road to Imler’s at the foot of Snake Spring Mountain to pasture for the summer. In the fall we would drive them back for the winter. I don’t remember ever having any problems with the cattle as we made the trips.
In the early years, what did we do together that was special? Growing up on a dairy farm, we never went on a vacation as the cows needed milked every day of the year.
The church was the center of our social life. Besides going to church and Sunday School on Sunday, we attended about all the other events that the church had. Also, we visited the neighbors in the evenings if you were not too tired from the farm work. We just went to bed at dark in the summer time or around eight in the winter.
At this time there was no little league baseball for the boys in Snake Spring. My ballplaying was throwing a rubber ball against the house, hopefully between the windows. I broke enough windows that my mother kept extra window panes for those accidents. My sister, Evelyn, told me there are still some panes at the house. There were times that the valley boys did ride their bikes to the ball field to play pick-up games.
Snake Spring did have an adult baseball team in the Bedford County Baseball League, which played its games on Sunday afternoon. Dad would see that we got home from church in a hurry and Mother would get a quick lunch. Dad, my two sisters, and I would always go to the games. Snake Spring did not win very often, but we still went to the games. I usually went after the foul balls until I was old enough to play.
Before we had TV, I listened to sporting events on the radio. One of the big events was the heavyweight championship fights. I remember we would go to Uncle Roy’s for the men to listen to the fights. I remember one fight between the champion Joe Louis and Pittsburgh’s Billy Conn. The reception in the house was not good, so we went to the barn to listen. We were all for Billy Conn as he was from Pittsburgh and was leading going into the 13th round before he got knocked out.
My dad was a strong Democrat, and as you know, there are not many in Bedford County. Dad and I would go to Clyde Smith’s, who was an unsuccessful candidate for sheriff several times, to watch the Democratic conventions and the elections in the fall.
The students from the valley did not go to Bedford until ninth grade. My parents left me play football. In fact, the first junior high football game that I played in was only the second game that I ever saw. My fifth-grade teacher, John Grimes, had previous taken me to a Bedford High School game.
In 1956, the year I graduated from high school, I organized a church fast-pitch softball team to play in the Rural Church League. By that time we had milking machines to do the milking. Milking was my job during the summer months. My dad let me start the milking early so that I was finished in time to make the ball games. My dad usually went along to the games.
My parents saw that I could go to college after I graduated from high school. I went to Franklin and Marshall for two years, and they paid for everything. I was the first from my grandfather Lloyd Creps’ side of the family to go to college.
In 1958 the boys from the valley entered a team in the Independent Softball League (ISL). This meant more early milking, but my dad never said anything about the more early milking. In fact, he was our biggest fan. He was probably the proudest person when Snake Spring won the playoffs the following year, because Snake Spring had never won anything in the days of playing baseball. My mother never went to any of my sporting events, but she always knew how we did either by asking, but usually from following the games in the paper and later on the radio.
I dropped out of college after my sophomore year and worked as a surveyor before being drafted into the Army in November, 1961. I met Bev in the summer of 1960. I will write about Bev and my family at a later time.
Dad believed in several things as a farmer. We never started milking earlier than 6 a.m. except during the first day of deer season, when it came in at 7 a.m. He never had more milking cows than what he could grow feed for, as he did not believe in having to buy feed. This was around 20. He seldom worked in the fields after 6 p.m. He raised his own cows as I don’t remember buying any cows.
Most likely, not many people remember making hay the way we did in the late 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.
I remember one night when I was 5, and we still lived on the crossroad. Uncle Jesse Cottle, Uncle Roy Creps, some other men, and my dad went gigging for suckers (fish) in the creek in the valley. Dad brought home a big tub of fish. I remember my mother saying, “What are going to do with all these fish. They have so many bones.” My dad who usually didn’t drink, but this time had a few beers, replied that we are going to eat them. My mother was upset, we had bonny suckers to eat for several days.
Dad told us later that one other time, they were gigging and the game warden came after them as gigging was illegal. They got away, but they had to run thru a briar patch and got all scratched up.
I met Bev after a softball game in Doc Snyder’s meadow on the Lower Valley Road in the summer of 1960. A bunch of us went to the Dairy Dell in Bedford. We asked her and her aunt to go along, and they did. It was there that I asked her to go with me to the movies in Bedford in two days. She said, “Yes,” and that was the beginning of our relationship, and we are still together 59 years later.
I was drafted into the Army in November, 1961. Bev was a senior at Everett, and we got married January 22, 1963. Bev stayed with my parents while I was in Germany. Mon and Dad treated her as she was one of the kids of the family.
When I got out of the Army in August 1963, I went to college at Frostburg with the help of Bev working and my parents.
Some of the things Bev and I remember about dad.
Dad always bought the groceries as Mother rarely went along. We always had plenty to eat. He always bought his favorite candy, teaberry lozenges. When the Snake Spring Valley Church of the Brethren has its ice cream festival, Bev melts the teaberry lozenges for the teaberry ice cream.
Bev also mention that Dad was the only person that she knew that could take a quart of ice cold water and drink it all down without stopping.
My dad took me along hunting at age 9 or10 (no gun) until I was 12. I was usually one of the drivers.
My dad hunted deer up until he was in his 80s and never used a rifle. For years, he used his Winchester 12 gauge with pumpkin balls. He later bought a 4-10. He was also noted for shooting a doe for it was acting like a buck. He never shot a deer illegally on our farm.
More about hunting in later articles.
My dad retired from farming in 1978 at the age of 70. He sold his cattle to our neighbor, Barry Barkman. Fred Perrin, another neighbor whom dad thought of like a son, farmed the fields until he retired. Fred’s son, George, farms the fields now.
He went from having almost nothing in 1944 to possibly a millionaire if he had sold everything when he retired.
Until next time, God Bless.