Having a dad for a township trustee for the most part was a real bonus I thought. For the most part that is. When you are around a trustee you get to see lots of folks from Washington Township for starters. It seemed like if I was with dad as we traveled the township from one end to the other. This I really liked to do as I was out cruising with my dad and learning a part of what his job was. Maybe the most enjoyment I got out of his job was every month there was a trustees meeting held in Moscow!
I declare this the most exciting part as I would ride along and get to hang out with kids from my class at school and get to visit my friends for an evening. I must admit that I enjoyed the perks that went along with all the extra responsibilities he had. Actually until just now I don’t think I ever gave much thought to what he had to deal with, just only what I got to enjoy. Ah the mind of a child seldom thinks too far away from their own enjoyment and I guess I was not the exception.
Now this was all well and good having a dad holding a position as my dad did. However there was also a downside. This would be when a manual chore would arise and they couldn’t find anyone to hire. I know that a couple of winters when we got big snows and the township roads would need sanded (salt wasn’t used much back in the 60’s.) Tinker Lucas was the man they contracted to supply his truck and get the sand out onto the roads. Tinker didn’t own a spreader to put on the back of the truck to spread the sand onto the roads. He used his son Gene and a second teenager if he could find one who would go out on a harsh weather day and shovel sand off the back of a dump truck. So when a second boy couldn’t be found I soon found myself on the back of the dump truck standing next to Genie. The only thing that kept us kind of warm was the exertion of shoveling that sand. The trouble about this was we were to only apply the sand on designated hills. So after working up some sweat we got to chill down until we reached the next hill.
I don’t know what Genie got paid from his dad but I got .50 cents per hour from the trustees. Please don’t get me wrong that our dads might have been too rough on us. Somebody had to do the job and even though we got lots of fresh air we did pick up a few bucks. But I will say this was one of the perks I didn’t much care for from dad’s position.
The winter didn’t hold all of the benefits that would come my way. I can think of a couple times in late summer when the little family cemeteries would need trimmed so they wouldn’t become overgrown. Finding someone to trim them seemed difficult to find. I should have looked at the pay from sanding roads and seen that maybe there wasn’t enough money being paid. But again I also learned that my dad would keep his word as best he could and if getting his son to trim the cemetery then so be it!
Dad kind of bribed me by allowing me to drive the pick up so as to carry the tools.( I was only 14!) It also helped persuade the Marshall Brothers to help me out of this politicians promise. (They would do anything for my dad and I was banking on it.) Now at that time weed eaters had yet to be around yet. With one of those we would have been done in short order. Our tools were a scythe, and two grass whips. The grass whip being the newest state of art tool we had.
The cemetery assigned to us that day was the Woods family cemetery on Turkey Foot Road. A David Woods had fought in the Revolution and as payment for his service to his country he was granted a 540 acre tract of land by George Washington. So the cemetery had a historic figure buried in it. It is safe to say the cemetery was no more than an acre in size but had been permitted to get overgrown. (Maybe this was why dad wanted it cleaned up.) The majority of the ground rested in shade and this made for us to feel a little relieved from the heat.
About noon one day the three of us climbed up a bank to the fence at the top and the way into the cemetery. We each took a tool and a section and began hacking at big ole weeds and grass. Herb grabbed the scythe and Charlie and I began the pendulum swing used with grass whips. At first it certainly gave no appearance of progress. Also it wasn’t long before Herb wanted to trade the scythe for a weed whip. So I took it and hated using it every second I had it. (They look better in antique stores!)
After a couple hours or so and a couple of breaks we could see where we were making progress and I must say that what we had done was looking nice. We continued to trudge on as the tools in use can wear any man down and we as yet weren’t full grown. Once we got the open areas completed we took to the task of trimming around the stones. I feel I need to explain that in these old type cemeteries burials were in wooden coffins and many over time had rotted out and the grave had become sunk in somewhat. Nearing the end and feeling the end was near I stepped out in front of a headstone and all at once my right leg sank into the earth and left only half of my leg appearing. It was then that I realized that I had sunk and not anywhere near where I ever wanted to be. It only took me a second to realize this and was on my way to the pickup truck to get away from there. What was interesting was that Herb and Charlie were at the truck right at my side. We took a vote and decided we had completed this job and now it was time to head home.
We also on the way home decided we weren’t going to be trimming any more cemeteries in our near futures. By the way the township paid us 15 bucks each and allowed us to have the scare of our lives. By the way I think we forgot the tools!
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 email@example.com.