Miller, Hubert - My memories

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Hubert Miller - My Memories

Hubert Miller

My father was a wholesale butcher; he bought cattle and hogs, butchered them and took the meat into Schenectady. He delivered once a week and sometimes more when business was brisk. He would take the horse and wagon to make the trip and deliver to most of the wholesale butchers. On delivery days my father would get up about 1 am to load the wagon and leave, he would get to the city about the time the first store was opening. In 1914 he bought a used 1911 Buick to be used some in the business. That was the first car my father ever owned. I remember the day he drove it into the barn, we were living over in Pleasant Valley then, and it caught fire. He quickly backed it out and drove it into the creek behind the barn where it burned up.

When we lived on the farm, one of my regular chores was to carry wood into the house. I had lots of other chores, but not on a regular basis. The first mowing machine I ever worked, I was eight years old, and I just drove the horses. If anything went wrong with the mower, I would have to get someone else to fix it.

I started school when I was five or six and I went to the Bell School, which is now Ethel Snyder’s Garage. I can’t remember my first teacher, but my second one was Marion Dietz. I went to school with the Wright boys, Ernest, Everett, Raymond, Oliver and their sister Esther. They lived right where my son Ralph lives now. Howard Wright, Maude Cowen, Howard Jones, Leo Jansen, Jarvey Jansen and Jesse and Minnie Chrysler and others. There was a wood stove in the center of the room, which provided the heat. The trustees provided the wood. We would carry the wood in every day to be used in the stove. We also carried the water in which came from a spring across the road. In very dry weather that spring would go dry and we would have to walk up Tabor road to Howard Wrights. They had a well inside the barn very close to the horse stalls. Imagine trying to use water like that today. I don’t recall anybody having problems from drinking that water. I went to that school until I was eight years old.

After that we moved to Pleasant Valley or as some called it, Skunks Misery. My father bought that farm in 1914 for $375.00, of course back then that was a lot of money. That’s where Bob Lawyer’s place is now. That is the farm that I grew up on. I went to school on Rock Road opposite the Jay Francis farm. I attended that school for about seven years. I finished my last year at the Berne school. In the summer we rode our bikes to school but other times we walked Pleasant Valley road up to the main road was just a mud hole in the spring. I can remember my father hooking a team of horses to the truck to pull it up to the main road. For several years my father worked the Ball farm in behind Jesse Woods. My father was always into farming to some degree, besides his butchering. My father never drank, smoked or chewed and I never did either. I remember a hired hand riding with my father to Schenectady. They stopped at the top of the Altamont hill to rest the horses and he could look out towards the city and he couldn’t get over how big the world was. I don’t believe he ever went far from his home. You have to remember a lot of people only went as far as they could walk, because they didn’t own any horses. I remember that hired mans name, it was Millard Duell. My first bike was an Elgin and it cost $35.00. I had that bike for a good many years.

I went to the Milne school in Albany and so did Robert Dyer. The families would take turns getting us in to Albany, My second year there, George Northrup attended too. At that time we rented a place to stay, it was too far a drive every day. They taught us college entrance courses, English, Algebra, History and Latin. I didn’t like any of them. One day when we were riding home with the Northrup's, my suitcase full of books, fell off the truck and we were never able to find them, without any books I was forced to quit school. The next year I went out to Cobleskill. That school was just starting at that time, I believe it was 1918 and I started there in 1922. I finished in the top 10% of my class. I enjoyed school there a lot more than at Milne, they had courses I was interested in. I had always wanted to be a farmer.

After I got married we moved up to the farm on the corners, that was in 1937. That had been the Bin’s farm and they called that Benson’s Corners. We worked on fixing up the house that summer. 99% of whatever money I made came from Farming. I grew Birdsfoot Trefoil seed; in fact I was one of the original Growers. That more or less set me up in business, why one year I had $10,000.00 worth of seed. Birdsfoot Trefoil was discovered right here in Albany County. The Farm Bureau agent found that trefoil was different, cows who ate it never bloated. It made wonderful pasture feed, it was the cow’s favorite food. We had a co-op here in Albany County, myself, Charlie Goodfellow, Biersford over to Knox, Leland Cook and Bill Lorette. I believe the first commercial harvesting of birdsfoot anywhere was done on the Leland Cook farm. All this was happening around 1940.

Frances and I liked to square dance. Quite often we would go to the Maccabbes Hall in Berne. My brother Chester had a band and he went around playing for a lot of dances. He had a violin, saxophone, clarinet and a mouth organ. He had the ability to play most any instrument and was self-taught, except the Violin, which he had some lessons on. At one point in time he was almost a one-man band. He would play the drum with his foot, the violin and the mouth organ all at the same time. He made some contraption that fit on his head to hold the mouth organ.

We first got electric in 1929 when it came thru Berne. At that time we were living down on what I call the home farm, where Chet lived. We bought the place from Barney White. The farm already had a 32-volt system with batteries. You had to have special equipment to operate at that voltage. I believe there were 16 batteries, which had to be charged up at least once a week. In 1929, we just unhooked the 32 volts and hooked up the 110. All the equipment had to be converted at that time.

When we first started farming we used only horses. The first tractor we bought was at the Henry Bins sale, it was a front wheel drive model. After that we bought a four wheel drive Massey Harris., when they first came out. That four wheel drive tractor worked very well in all kinds of ground. Later on I bought a Case two plow tractor. Today almost every tractor you see is four wheel drive. I do remember that there was no power steering, just your muscle and a little help by using the front brakes. This all happened in 1931 and 1933. The 31 had steel wheels and the 33 had rubber tires.