Farm boys made the days more fun

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The days of summer on our dairy and grain farm were anything but lazy days.
What seems to stand out most of all in my memory of summertime is the small army of young men who pitched in to help.
Our kitchen table was a custom-made round one that could squeeze in just about any number of hungry folks.
In its center sat a specially-made lazy Susan that allowed enough room for plates and glasses.
That lazy Susan could hold about a dozen serving dishes, and quite often it did just that.
I remember the Hoover boys spending lots of time in the barns, fields, and around that table making the lazy Susan zip around mercilessly as they reached for second and third helpings!
Brothers Joe, Dave and Stan Hoover were all big and strong enough to have done all the baling work themselves, but we girls were expected to pull our share of the labor, too.
One particularly hot day, all the hard-working crew headed for the lunch table right at the stroke of noon.
It was a great treat to see that our mom had placed several casserole dishes on the lazy Susan, along with an enormous bowl filled with sweet corn, steaming and golden.
Corn contest. I’m not sure who stated the challenge first, but the game was loud and clear. Whoever could eat the most sweet corn during that lunch break would earn bragging rights for all time.
I know my sister Deb and I fizzled out fairly early. We were no match for those bigger and stronger than us. Plus, we made the mistake of helping ourselves to those casseroles instead of zeroing in on the competition corn on the cob.
It looked for a time like the two oldest Hoover brothers would be duking it out for the win.
But my sister Sher, ever the competitor, was like the dark horse in the Kentucky Derby. No one would have bet on her, half the size of those hearty Hoover boys.
She came into the contest from nowhere, quietly nibbling away at one ear after another. Her plate began to look mighty impressive, filling up with empty cobs. She stayed at it, slow and steady. The pyramid of empty cobs grew.
If anyone could beat a Hoover boy at his own game, it was my amazing sister with her steady strategy. But in the end, Dave “Whitey” Hoover edged past Sher by one ear of corn. He was able to claim bragging rights for all time.
I was mighty proud of my sister for coming close and for not giving up or giving in. She may not have won, but she was able to brag about her efforts!
Looking back. I have often wondered who had the biggest bellyache as we headed out after lunch for an afternoon of baling hay.
Most of our funniest memories of growing up on the farm involve the boys who practically lived there.
After my sisters grew up and moved out, I worked side-by-side with neighborhood boys Jim, Paul and John, who became so much like brothers to me that it certainly seems we should pop up at each other’s family reunions.
They helped pull the weight of the work, made us laugh and helped us through all sorts of predicaments only a farm can present.
Those boys were all special to us, but they ultimately were too much like brothers to ever consider going out on a date with one of them.
But they remain special in our memories. There is nothing quite like the boys of the heartland!

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college.

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