Autumn is a moment when life slows down and allows us ease into the looming Ohio winter that shadows the falling of leaves and the harvest of crops. It’s a time many of us will visit A&M Apple Orchard, sit around a bonfire, enjoy a picnic at a park, or browse through an antique shop after a pleasant lunch in a small town.
Harvest is a special season for us in Clinton County and our neighboring counties. We watch the farmers go to the fields picking corn with giant combines, knowing the dusty beans will follow.
Autumn allows us to draw a few deep breaths and let our minds relax. Autumn is a soothing time and reminds us each day there is not a prettier place on earth to be than Ohio in October.
My wife, Brenda, asked me what I remember most about autumn growing up in Port William. I told her about sitting on our front porch watching local farmers and their tractors and wagons, and an occasional team of horses and wagons, driven by the Airy brothers filled to the top with corn or beans, rolling down the hill to the two feed mills in Port.
Joe Beam and Sons Mill, with its well-worn giant wooden floors and gigantic timber beams, became a meeting place as farmers waited in line to deliver their crops. Across Anderson Fork sat the Master Mix Mill, marshaling in the corn-delivering farmers.
I would often hop on my bike and ride to the mills to spend the morning listening to the adventures of the friendly farmers. The lines were long, and on colder days, a fire blazed in the old pot-bellied stove where the farmers gathered around to warm themselves and the hearts of the others with stories.
On most days, a farmer would hand me a Coke from the pop machine that held small glass bottles, or maybe a Baby Ruth candy bar as I stood with them behind the piping hot cast-iron stove.
Like most of us, I have spent the greater part of the last six months at home as COVID-19 has raged around us. I spent my time writing a book titled, “Around the Fire: Stories from Here and There.” These are not the stories of the farmers but are a collection of more of my nonfiction stories that have appeared in the Wilmington News Journal, Xenia Daily Gazette and Fairborn Daily Herald over the past several years.
My original intent was to write this book solely for my family, to leave a personal record for them. However, several friends have asked me to offer the book for sale to the public. As a result, my book is now available for public purchase.
The book cost is $19.99 and can be bought from me directly, Pat Haley, 185 Woods Edge Court, Wilmington, OH 45177, or through the Clinton County History Center on East Locust Street, Wilmington. Anyone interested in purchasing a book can reach me at 937-205-7844 or via email at [email protected].
I sincerely hope this book helps trigger some warm, fond memories of your own.