Rick Houser: Where opportunity knocked

Clermont County's Rick Houser has released a second book, this one titled "Memories from the Heart."

The other day I got to thinking about a part of how I was raised and I came to the recollection that my parents were so much more understanding than I ever gave them credit for. I thought about all I bothered them with and just how they would listen to my thoughts or requests and no matter how farfetched my thoughts had taken me or just how odd my requests could sound they always listened. They didn’t take all I talked about as serious and some of my topics but I guarantee you they could repeat what I had been talking about. Yes they listened.

Try recalling some of the topics your children have got you with over the years and just think how hard paying attention to the ramblings of a child can be quit tedious. As I have thought back to these talks I recall that I seemed to stay almost entirely on one topic. I seemed to be focused on thinking of different ways to generate money. I guess since I was the youngest and I watched my sister and brother finding jobs to earn some cash I wanted to do likewise. Actually my parents did a variety of jobs to supplement their bank account also. So I figured that age only meant I would have to look to different ways to earn that elusive dollar.

One thing I can say about my parents was that no matter what the idea might be they would listen and if I would pursue a way they would try to give me the opportunity to give the idea a try. It seemed as though no idea was too bizarre for the most part. If I would have an idea that was out of the realm of reality they would play a little devil’s advocate and ask me questions that eventually would lead me in the direction of maybe that wasn’t a very good idea. But never did they dismiss me as having too bizarre of an idea. I think they didn’t want to smother any creative ideas that I might have. Who knows maybe I might come up with a good idea eventually?

Each one of us three kids raised a crop of tobacco so that we could build some cash for a checking account and so that when we were leaving school we would have some money to begin with. Of course Ben and I would work as farm hands in hay and tobacco and even Peg would sucker tobacco to pick up some more money for her college tuition. (To do what Peg did meant she really wanted a college education.) I contracted with my Grandma Houser to mow her lawn and also in the fall to rake and burn her leaves. I also helped her in her garden with shoveling and hoeing.

When a tobacco bed had been all used up for a year and if dad wanted to use the same spot again he would plant things like sugar corn, green beans and popcorn in the bed so he would cultivate it and keep the weed population down. One year he didn’t do a couple of beds near the house so I pulled all of the tomato plants dad had left from the seed bed and set them out in the tobacco beds. I set over two hundred tomato plants and let them grow and kept them cultivated and the weeds out of them. When it was the beginning of the school year I had tomatoes running out of my ears and really didn’t know exactly what I was going to do with them. But when I was in school and I was talking with the cooks they ask if I would bring them a bushel of tomatoes and they would pay me two dollars. So I did and they ask if I had another bushel and I obliged them ASAP and got two more dollars. Before fall was over I sold them a couple more bushels and felt like I had done quite well out of a crop that cost me zero in expense and the only thing I was out was some labor. (Dad was happy his tobacco beds were kept weed free.) One side note here is just try and sell produce off your farm direct to the school these days and see how long before the board of health would appear.

As the years passed by the Marshall Brothers and I gathered Walnuts and Hickory Nuts as we were going to shell fifteen hundred pounds of nuts and make a fortune. We were all gung ho until it was time to crack the nut and pick the hulls out. At this point it seemed we always had another chore to do. My mom broke and picked them all and made tons of cookies and cakes and told me to never pick up a walnut or hickory nut ever again. This was one of the attempts that they backed but as can be seen didn’t go over well. Now Herb and Charlie and myself tried several ventures and some went well and many just didn’t seem to have all the planning I guess to make it a success. Maybe picking up empty bottles and taking them to the tavern to be redeemed was one of our successes. I know one year my cousin Walt and I raised a garden of about a half an acre and had a very profitable year. The garden grew plentiful and his dad sold the produce to the mail carriers at his post office where he worked. (Supply and demand.) The same thing held true when we picked raspberries and sold them in the city.

My parents were never ones to put a damper on us whenever we were trying to be productive. My dad was a man who would listen intently and try hard to support your efforts, Mom was the same way. I know with dad we raised sheep together for a few years and mom and I went into the chicken business for a few years also. I feel by trying to encourage us to try they would put their money where their mouth was and invest with us. It is very hard to tell someone they don’t think what you are doing isnt a good idea especially when they have their money in there also.

They did their best to encourage us to try to do more and did much of it by example. I always felt I must be on the right way to earning when they were there involved in it and I have to feel Peg and Ben felt the same as they invested with them also. This was just one more example of what goes on on a family farm and that was family working together to help each other.

I have tried many ways to generate money. I must say I have tried in a large number of ways. From farming to selling real estate to working in the health care business. I have even refinished furniture and lately I have even published books about my growing up and doing all these things I have spoken of. No matter how hard and varied I have tried I have yet to become a millionaire. I’m pretty sure I never will be but I sure have lived an interesting life as I have tried to reach that goal. Oh well the memories have been rich.

Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and loves to share stories about his youth and other topics. If you are interested in reading more of his stories they can be found in his books ‘There are Places to Remember” and’ Memories ARE from the Heart.” He may be reached at houser734@yahoo.com.