Lessons I learned from my father
My father, Herb Christman, was a farmer. Pop wasn’t demonstrative or even talkative with his children, but his character was shown to us through his actions.
Pop only had an eighth grade education. Other than the newspaper, the only book I saw him read was the big family Bible, on Sundays. He’d take a chair from the house, sit it on the front lawn and read. (Mom told me he read the Bible through six times.)
Pop also made sure his children attended both church and Sunday School. Our church was located about one mile from our home; sometimes we walked there. My father, in different years, was both an elder and deacon. In this church, elders and deacons sat in the front row. Mom had the privilege of tending to her children by herself.
I must say Pop had a strict sense about what Sundays meant to him. No chores were to be done on Sundays, except necessary work, like feeding the animals or gathering eggs. Even before Sunday arrived, my four older brothers were to clean up the grounds around the barn and sheds. It had to look presentable for Sunday.
My sister, Gladys, must have decided to find out how much Sunday meant to Pop. Thinking he was out of hearing range, she decided to sweep her bedroom floor. In no time Pop came flying up the stairs, pulled the cord and reprimanded her severely.
Yet, Pop had a fun side. He always played Santa Claus. He’d arrive at the kitchen door, in his borrowed red suit, throw nuts and oranges on the floor, and leave. Never suspecting Santa to be our father, we, the children scrambled for our goodies.
Pop always knew right from wrong. Mom told us this story,
“In the early years of our marriage, Pop went with a neighbor to an auction. On the way home the neighbor stopped at a hotel. Pop walked the six miles home.”
Another story comes from my older sister, Anita,
“When a new road was built through some of our farm land, the workmen found Indian graves and threw the bones on a pile. That didn’t sit well with Pop. He collected the bones and reburied them on his land.”
My brother, David, told me, “Pop was a stickler if something broke while in the field. You fix it before you return. Use wire, baler twine, or a bolt from somewhere. You get the field finished.”
As a youngster, I’ve often wondered why Pop, after harvesting the corn, allowed the neighbors, from a nearby village, to glean the fields. I didn’t understand this sharing when he had to provide for a wife and ten children. Through my Sunday School lessons I became more knowledgeable. Maybe he remembered the Bible story of Boaz, a wealthy farmer, upon seeing Ruth gleaning his field, told his reapers to leave grain for her to gather. The Old Testament law of the agricultural community was for them to leave the gleanings from produce in the fields for the poor people. Pop practiced that law.
As I stated before, Pop wasn’t much of a talker. During rainstorms, I often sat with him on the glider on the front porch. This is where I learned the art of listening as the rain pelted on the tin roof above us and the lightning crackled around us. When the storm subsided and the you heard the birds chirping, Pop got up and stood at the railing,
“Carole, come here and see the rainbow!” I treasured those times the most — me and Pop, just listening.
I always knew my mother’s siblings attended a two-year college and became teachers. What I didn’t know was that Mom was the instigator of Pop becoming a farmer. During their courting days, she told Pop, “I want to be a farmer’s wife.” For the love of a woman, Pop learned the trade. He loved the sights, the sounds, the smells of farming. To him, these were the best of the Godgiven things.
Carole Christman Koch Welcome To My World