Today is 40, cloudy, damp with a 15 mph breeze. Not too comfortable for finishing my rose pruning, so I will take the time for another trip down memory lane.
I want to reminisce about the outside jobs I held as a teenager, in addition to all the work on our own farm. In searching for a photo to headline this post, I decided on this one from 1964....my cousin Bruce and I clowning around in 1964. Bruce passed away last year and I miss him dearly. We were both baseball fans and both Seattle Mariner fans, as he spent his career teaching in Alaska until moving back to Colorado after retirement, and I spent most of my life in the Pacific Northwest. With Spring Training starting next week and the Mariners making some significant signings this week, we would have been tearing up the email lines with discussions.
I'm sorry this picture is so small, but I'm glad I have it. Bruce lost his dad in a farming accident as a boy. He came out to Idaho 2 summers in 1963 and 1964 and worked in the potato fields changing sprinkler pipe. In 1964 I worked with him as well as working at home. That was the summer after our high school graduation. I earned about $1000 that summer, which was huge to me at that time. I bought my first car, a 1955 Dodge Royal. Put 4 new tires on it and paid for a years insurance. I bought a few clothes, saved the rest for tuition and was ready for my freshman year at Boise Junior College. In 1964 BJC had about 1200 students (now Boise State University, the mighty Broncos boast over 23,000 students.) Greg, if you are reading this post, you will remember this, since you attended the U of Idaho. U of I students called BJC " a high school with ash trays". Nevertheless, I got a good start there for 2 years before transferring to Oregon State.
The sprinkler changing job was hard work and at the end of that summer I was 6'2" and a rock hard 190#. It's been downhill ever since !!!
I once calculated that I had worked for 25 different farmers during my teen years, either milking cows or bucking bales. Most of it was for $1.00 to $1.25 per hour. And of course I still worked at home all I could. I didn't have a need for much spending money and times were tough, so much of what I made went to Mom for grocery money. I didn't mind at all; that's just the way it was back then.
Here are some specific memories from that time. I once milked for 3 neighbors at the same time during hunting season. Bob J had asked first and he only had 5 cows. Then Kenny B asked and it was no problem to add his 15 or 20. Then Harold D asked and I told him I was already committed for 2 others. He said he didn't care what time I milked his 15 or 20 Jerseys as long as I got it done twice a day! So that's what we did.
I liked to milk for Ed M up the road. He had a Guernsey herd and a pretty nice barn. And he left his newer pickup for me to drive to school after milking! Cool ! One funny thing I remember about that job...the neighbors across the road from Ed had Banty chickens running loose and every morning when I came, a little rooster came out in the road and attacked the car. I had to swerve to miss him. Well, the 3rd morning, I heard a thump....his luck had run out.
Ed field chopped his alfalfa hay. One summer he hired me and a boy from town to stack. But the other kid didn't show and I ended up doing it all. What a hard, dusty job. Since he didn't have to pay 2 boys, he paid me $1.50. Wow! Bonus !
I am going to make a somewhat embarrassing confession here. When I milked for Ron M, I had to go into their house and fill pails with hot water in the bathtub to carry to the barn. While waiting for the pails to fill, I noticed a bottle of Mennens Skin Bracer sitting on the vanity. Dad didn't use much cologne or after shave..I think he had some Old Spice that I occasionally sampled. But I dabbed some of Ron's skin bracer on and liked the scent! I think maybe I purchased a bottle with some of my earnings!
One summer I worked with my good friend Don D at his dad's Jersey dairy stacking baled hay in the big hay loft. It was very hot and the loft was almost full; we were stacking right up around the rafters. Allen came up and hollered, "How you boys doing?" We said we were ok, but he took one look and told us to come down and go lay in the shade for awhile. He said we were as white as ghosts. My recollection is that it was over 120 degrees, but when I Google record temps in Boise, it looks like about 117 is an all time high. Nevertheless, it was very hot!
When I stacked hay for Gideon B, he used a Mormon derrick, like the one in this picture.
I have often thought how OSHA and who knows how many other government agencies would not allow a kid to do that today. We would haul the bales in on a hay wagon, One person, the stacker, would be on the haystack, the driver was on a tractor which was attached to a rope that raised or lowered the fork, and one person was on the wagon. You would stab the forks into 4 bales and latch it, grab the trip rope and give a thumbs up to the tractor operator. He would back up which raised the fork up and over the stack. The stacker would grab the fork and guide it where he wanted it and yell "Trip!" The loader would yank on the trip rope which dumped the bales. Then he would start hauling in the rope, as the forks would be a lethal weapon swinging away up there. You had to pull in the rope as the driver drove forward to lower the fork back to the wagon. When 3 people worked well in concert, it was a very efficient operation. But very dangerous if one didn't pay attention.
It was all hard work but makes for good memories 50+ years later.