Ray Emig, a resident of Emigsville in the in the 1940’s, is interviewed by George Hay Kain II. Please use the comment section below this entry to comment, help with the “?” or add to the stories.
Video and picture to post soon.
I was born Aug 11, 1932 in Violet Hill at the Church of the Brethren. I came to Emigsville when I was in the fifth grade when I was about nine or ten. When I come it was amazing to me. My parents were John and Maze? Emig. I had four brothers and two sisters. I had three brothers older and two sisters older, then it was me and my youngest brother Gale? I now live in Selbyville, Delaware.
There was two brothers that came from Germany, one was Valentine and the other was John Phillip Emig and he settled in Codorus Township. Now John Phillip was my great-grandfather, he had a son named Charles who was my grandfather and then my dad John.
Well my father was always a farmer and there was a fella by the name of Jay Witmer Emig contacted him that he really needed a farmer on this farm… the Emig farm and we ended up signing a contract and we farmed it until it went into the industrial park.If you come to the center of Emigsville, turn right at the Hess station, under the railroad tracks that is where the farm started. The farm was 145 acres. We were tenant farmers; we never owned the farm. We were related distantly, but we never really owned the farm.
Charlie Drawbaugh? was our teacher and there were two other teachers, I can’t remember their names. They sorta quizzed me on a few things – they didn’t happen to have a sixth grade so they put me right on through to the seventh grade. Well, I thought that was big time stuff, but later in I wished they wouldn’t have.
If dad had anything on the farm, you’d just write a note and you’d give it to the principal and he’d say well go head go on home and you were excused. There was no buses and sure remember you had to stamps for everything. (War savings stamps) If you wanted to eat you had stamps if you had to have gas you had to have stamp. Stamps for everything and it created a lot of black market if you weren’t careful.
What we used to do pretty much so in the evenings we come over, we start our evening at Stricks? gas station there was a fella named Mr Strickler?, he owned the gas station where it is now (Hess) and then there was a Krout, he fixed cars right below it. Mundis store on the other corner (HAFA Construction). We would all meet around and go from there. In the 1940’s.
There is a fella Lynn Hudson, Smoke Snelbaker. I always credit myself, he was a pretty good race driver you know….well he didn’t have a father and his family lived in them row houses next to the American Acme (current post office) and he spend more time with us than he did at home. Mom would always feed him one, maybe two meals a day and he be out in the field with us or whatever. I tell you how small he was. The bolt, the screw that holds the steering wheel on, he’s have to stand up and when he’d hit a bump his nose would hit that. It was a 1932 John Deere B tractor. I’s stand on the back of the draw bar run the clutch for him he’d steer it.
I really enjoyed it when we farmed. We milked 45 cows by hand. We had always farmed 10 acres of tobacco, 10-12 acres of tomatoes, and 10 acres of sage tea so it was all pretty labor intensive, but I enjoyed every bit of it. What I really enjoyed is the latter end of the tobacco crop. You’d have to hang it in the shed, let it dry and then after Thanksgiving on a nice rainy misty night you’d get as much as you could get into the tobacco cellar and keep it damp. Then you would have to strip it and size? it, bail it, and I still remember the snow would be blowing and we would be up there stripping and sizing? tobacco. a stove in there and we had neon? lights and we always had hot water and coffee and Bing Crosby playing on the radio and it was always a great time I just hated to go down and do the barn work in the evening.
A typical day on the Emig farm in the 1940’s: We get up at 5 in the morning and then we’d milk the cows and and feed em’ clean the stables out, re-bed them, then we’d go for breakfast. When you talk about eatin breakfast when you are done all that could you ever eat breakfast and the about 9 0’Clock you get back out and maybe turn the cattle out for a little exercise freshin up everything and if it was winter you’d tie em’ back in and if it was summer you’d turn them out to pasture.
Then you would start doing the field work. Then you would do that until about 4 O’Clock, then you’d have to bring the cattle back in milk em’, feed everything, about 7-7:30 you’d eat dinner.
Well you were so tired in the morning after staying out a little late but you know about 4 O’Clock in the afternoon you’d start feeling a little better and by 7-7:30 you were wondering what you were getting into that night.
Those cows had to be milked and fed even before you went to school. It’s a 24/7 thing you’d have to take turns at it if someone wanted a day off or two we’d just take turns at it. It was a wonderful way of life you never went hungry. I loved it.
Changes in Emigsville: The growth, everything seems to have taken off. But you know the old underpass you still have to wait til another car comes through. Lookin back at what I done when I was younger some of the things I can remember the first television I ever saw was Chauncy Shaffer? had an appliance store and there was a big world championship fight coming on, I think it was big Jersey Wolcott but wasn’t sure he put a televison out on his porch and he had about 3/4 of Emigsville just watching the fight.
I can sure remember my brother Roger was an artificial breeder (cows) for Atlantic breeds and he’d run about with as many as nine blow-out patches on his tires and he’d mix a little kerosene with the gas just so he could get to the farms to breed the animals. It was really tough in that respect.
I do remember very well (the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor). My mother come out, yelled to my dad and said come in here and they were around the radio and then they come out and told us kids and I can say they were both crying.
Franklin Roosevelt’s fireside chats: We’d listen to everyone one of them.
You wouldn’t travel far, maybe down to the Maryland line to visit family. That’s what it was back then it was wonderful. Every week it was somebody they come to our house for dinner or we’d go to their house for Sunday dinner and we need to get back to that in this world.
We went to York all the time. The first thing we had was a ’38 Buick but we didn’t have that at Emigsville. I think a ’37 Ford for sure. In 1949 my dad had a pretty good year it was a pretty good year for tobacco, wheat brought $4.25 and a loaf of bread was 17 cents, but that year he bought a New Holland bailer, brand new for $2,45 , he bought a ’49 Chevrolet Deluxe four door sedan $2150. and a ? rake? for $500 and he still banked $300. He thought he had a great year.
You did a lot of bartering.
The band: My brother in-law still plays in it.. I can remember when they had their picnics, their carnivals. I remember when I thought my dad was just as tough as nails when they had that thing with the great big wooden hammer and you can ring that bell up there. And nobody could ring it and he went up and ring it three times. I thought he was tough but he just knew where to hit it.
Back then there was no diesels it was all coal fired engines and it was very, very busy. I can remember when there be as high as 100 cars on it and it’s up hill the whole way to Harrisburg till you get to Mount Wolf. And sometimes they get stuck. Sometimes you hear them chuckin, chuckin and all of a sudden chug, chug, chug, chugin the wheels would spin and he’d sit there and blow that whistle and 15-20 minutes later there’d a couple more engines come behind him and they’d push him up over.
Then about once every year they’d start the pasture with a spark coming out, the pasture would catch fire seemed every time that’s where the best grass was. If we couldn’t beat it out.. we’d use pitch forks.. if not we’d call the Emigsville Fire Company.
At Halloween we really had fun we’d start a month early. We could Halloween pretty good. You remember Herman Nace? well he lived on High Street and the pines were there you know, we get a nice fine little copper wire, somebody crawl up on his porch roof hooked this wire to his spouting and we’d have a big hunk of resin and we’d sit up there in the pines boy we’d serenade him till he couldn’t take it anymore, he’d call the police. The police couldn’t catch us we knew the pines a little better than they did. It was really all in good fun.
And sledding I can remember sledding on Sinking Springs Lane hill. O that is wonderful, was just wonderful. I can just remember sitting in school in Emigsville and there is an old German fella that come around with a huckster wagon. Had a horse pullin’ the wagon. He’d sell vegtables and fish and I can still heard him com up through. He’s start hollarin to the ladies, “Weeet yur tables, wet your tables, wet your tables, wet your tables”.
The school had three rooms and they didn’t have enough room for the sixth grade so if your smart enough you went to seventh and if you weren’t you stayed back in fifth another year. You could learn more than way than you could any other way. They just sorta had a knack of handling it. The first school I ever went to was a one room school house and i figured I learned as much in that as anywhere. If you got your grades worked on you could sit there and listen to all of them or if you missed something you could listen to the grade below you. I just thought it was a pretty good way of educating. It was good enough to educate a governor, George Leader. His family and my family were great friends. He just lived up over the hill at Leaders Heights from the New Fairview Church that’s where I was born.
I think it was some of the best years of my life George and I met a lot of good people and we just had an awful lot of fun.