Rick Houser:
Hay! Want a ride?

Rick Houser

One of the benefits about living on a farm was the freedom to move around the countryside and not needing to get permits or government approval for everything. It kind of is that way today but in the rural countryside there is still the luxury of some freedoms still. One such freedom was if you wanted to hold a gathering with kids your age or groups and ride around the countryside on a wagon with some bales of hay on it, it was and still is a fun thing to do.

Rick Houser

I know during the years I lived on Fruit Ridge on the farm we would hold a hayride and every time we had a fun time. One of the neat things is that when you are too young to have obtained a driver’s license you still can invite your friends and drive them around on the wagon with the tractor. It probably isn’t legal but who is gonna see you after dark which is when most hayrides are held and one always makes certain there is a licensed guest on the wagon.I(I know at least I did.) I know that when I was a freshman in high school I got to have a party and the hayride was pretty much the theme of the party. With maybe a half dozen couples we loaded up and me at the wheel of the tractor the evening began.

A cool evening and a girl at your side made for one of your first encounters with the opposite gender. To mix with the genders was a new and unchartered area we were all anxious to venture into. So out on a farm on a wagon in the dark and it cool was a good excuse to offer to put your arm around a young lady’s’ shoulders to help keep her warm. A good thing about this being in the 60’s was that little or no traffic was something we had to worry about. My friends and I had rigged up a strand of lights we fastened to the wagon so that we could be seen. It wasn’t the most state of art but they were lights.

Now we had two farms with about 200 hundred acres to drive around on and neighboring farms we had permission to travel also. So we drove it all and all the while there was laughter and conversation and we had even brought along a battery powered transistor radio so that we could listen to the newest music that was hip to hear. When we felt we had rode the countryside long enough we returned to the house and there we had the old brick grill fired up so that we could grill some hot dogs and hamburgers. There was something about the fact that even though the interest for the opposite sex was upon us we still were uninhibited when it came to eating. Cool night air and bouncing around in it increases the appetite. So the night went well from beginning to ending. We finished gathered around a picnic table and as we ate we didn’t forget that transistor radio and we sang along to the new hit on the radio.

Yes that was a fun evening. Really very simple and economical to hold. We all enjoyed it and for more reasons than a wagon with hay on it. We enjoyed it I think because it was an evening where it was our evening and my parents stayed at a distance that kids want to see them at. Also the agenda was ours. We had decided what we were going to do and what we were going to have to eat etc… The biggest element of the hayride maybe was the unknown of being with the opposite gender. Who knew? Maybe some guys might get a kiss. (Maybe?)

Over the years there were other hayrides and held for different age groups and reasons. But something as simple as folks bouncing around on a wagon while crossing over farm land all the time enjoying each other’s company. It was something all could and I guess can still have fun doing. By the way there is no need to go out and buy new clothes for this event. Mostly those attending need to bring a good humor and a laid back disposition.

I know the last one we held on our farm was shortly after I had married. My wife had become the Dietary Supervisor for Clermont Mercy Hospital when it had opened. After about a year in this position she thought it would be good public relations move to invite her staff to something they all could come to and not expensive or too dressy. So she asks if we could hold a hayride. I said ok and got the tractor and wagon set up for a hayride.

So one summer night on a Saturday evening we held a hayride. Once all that were coming got there we loaded up and headed out across the farm. One thing we had planned was at dusk we took the riders onto the Cann farm where the old abandoned log house and a couple falling down buildings existed. The farm was all overgrown and at that time of evening it gave off a haunted look and feel to it. One of the riders even asks if I knew if it was haunted. Now I ask you. How can one turn down a lead in question like that? I answered we weren’t certain but we had heard stories. At that others had more questions regarding the place being haunted. Of course the best thing to do is answer the questions with vague answers of not certain or maybe.

While this was happening we were leaving this farm and headed back nearer our house where we had lots of foods to eat. As we ate of course questions continued to arise about haunted or not. To my recollection that was the last hayride that was held at our house. Looking back I must say I have enjoyed all that I have attended and glad we had them. But I must admit that to this day I can’t say if the Cann place is haunted or not. It might take a hayride back to that place to find out!

Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and loves to share stories about his youth and other topics. He may be reached at houser734@yahoo.com.