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Another Day in the Country

Coming home again

© Another Day in the Country

There’s a certain ritual in our family during Memorial Day weekend. A lot of my cousins make a trek back to Ramona. They often head to the cemetery first, putting out flowers, trimming grass around the headstones, adding gravel to stop erosion at the grave sites. And when they’re done, they often come by my house.

My cousin Georgia and her husband stopped by. They grew up in the Ramona area and are among the most faithful visitors this time of year.

Aunt Naomi and Uncle Kenneth’s brood were back. Ginnie and her husband came Sunday and then Steve met Joe and Janet at the cemetery service Monday. Standing out there in the cemetery, under beautiful blue skies, was like a giant family reunion. Even if you weren’t related by blood, there was a kinship.

These folks who attend services at Lewis Cemetery year after year become part of our family, and we’re grateful to see their faces.

Uncle Hank and Aunt Gertie’s youngest son recently moved back to this area from Colorado. He’s told me that when he left Ramona as a much younger man and moved to Colorado, he’d vowed never to return.

“But here I am,” he says with a grin.

Things are different now because his daughter and her husband have a Ramona address, and the decision was made to return to his home turf upon retirement to be closer to grandchildren.

His brother, Keith, was here this weekend, too. He’s still a Colorado resident, but every Memorial weekend finds him in Ramona. Memorial weekend means coming home to this little rinky-dink place that is still surviving.

Their parents are long gone, but we all sit around and tell stories from our collective past. We are sure that Hank and Gertie would be pleased to know that we were all together here in the place where they spent so much of their life.

We sat at breakfast one morning this weekend, and Keith started talking about the men who had shaped his life as a child growing up in Ramona. There was his dad’s cousin, Martin Schubert.

“Uncle Mart taught me how to turn a square corner with the sickle mower,” Keith recalled. “And he showed me how to square up a board,” explaining that boards don’t come from the lumber yard automatically straight and square.

“There were guys like Harvey Falen, Wilbur Hanschu, my Uncle John Lori,” Keith said. “I wish that my own son would have had the opportunity of growing up around men like I did in a farming community like this.”

These farmers who hired young boys to help in the fields during the summer or buck bales in the spring turned out to be more than employers. They were teachers, role models, for the next generation — one of our natural resources in country life that we pretty much take for granted.

“It was simple things I learned,” Keith continued, “like how to scoop wheat. Wilber showed me how to pick up a shovel full and give it an extra little flip so that the wheat leaves the scoop all in one big pile.”

Simple life tasks remembered 50 years later. Instruction that built skill and confidence in a young boy.

“Wilbur taught me how to weld, how to set the depth on a plow, cultivate, and run the combine,” Keith remembered. “One day Wilbur bought a brand new yellow Chevy truck. I’d have given my left arm for a new truck like that, and Wilbur said he was going to cut the bed off that new truck to put on a hydraulic lift.”

The teenager was shocked at his mentor’s audacity, but all these years later he’s recalling the pride he felt being this man’s helper, learning new skills that also turned out to be important life lessons.

Would that all the kids in the village of Ramona today could tell stories like this in another 50 years about the adults who took them under their wing, gave them a task, taught them how to accomplish great things on another day in the country.

Last modified June 1, 2017

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