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@LMR (the ranch blog)

Ted Hall
 
May 9, 2010 | Ted Hall

On Mother's Day

Last Mother's Day I was visting my mother in Pennsylvania as had become my practice over the past few years.  Today is our first Mother's Day without her.  She died on October 3, 2009.  We all miss her deeply and continue to be inspired by her commitment, energy, and strength. 

My blog posting from last Mother's Day is reprinted below, along with a photo I took that day.

Today is the day to celebrate the root of it all: Mom.

Anybody who has been on a tour of the ranch has heard me start the narrative with: "My mother was an organic gardening pioneer in the 1940s."

Today I am back in Pennsylvania spending the day with the source, my mother. Although our small family farm is long gone (we left in 1961), Mom is still going strong (at least in terms of her ability to tell me what to do).

Today we reminisced about her early start with gardening. Her father and mother (my grandparents) operated a small grocery store in Beaver. It was a neighborhood store with a confectionary and sandwich shop. Mom isn't sure about its proper name because everyone called it "the little store." But, we think it was officially known as DeHass Grocery.

The family provided fresh produce for the store from its own gardens just a few blocks away. As children, my mother and her two brothers and sister worked in that garden. There was always a compost pile and my grandfather mixed a variety of potions, including soapy water and tobacco juice, for pest control.

Sadly, my grandfather lost the store to bankruptcy in 1936 when he could no longer pay his own bills after providing credit to so many of his customers. But, the traditions and skills of growing for the market were already in place.

When my mother and father were married, they soon acquired a small rural property and, as they say, the rest is history. The bible, according to Mom, was "Five Acres and Independence," a book first published in 1935 which became popular with young couples following World War II. One of my most prized possessions is my mother and father's copy of the book, which Mom presented to me a few years ago.

Mom reminded me this afternoon that I turned the compost pile for the first time when I was five years old.

Thank you, Mom.

 

Edith D. Hall Obituary

Time Posted: May 9, 2010 at 5:30 PM
Ted Hall
 
December 25, 2009 | Ted Hall

Christmas Greetings from Long Meadow Ranch

 

-Ted, Laddie & Chris

Ted Hall
 
October 10, 2009 | Ted Hall

The Root of It All at Rest

The Root of It All, our Mom, died last Saturday. Yesterday I spoke at her services.  Here is what I had to say:

Today is the day to celebrate the root of it all: Mom.

As you have heard from others, she was a force of nature. She always told me that I could do anything; that I could be President of the United States – most of the time I believed her.

She shaped the everyday life of my immediate family, too. As many of you know, we (Laddie, Chris, and I) live and work on our ranch, Long Meadow Ranch, in the Napa Valley.

Anybody who has been on a tour of the ranch has heard me start the narrative with: "My mother was an organic gardening pioneer in the 1940s."

On Mother’s Day I spent the day with the source, Mom. Although our small family farm in Potter Township is long gone (we left in 1961), Mom was still going strong (at least in terms of her ability to tell me what to do about farming and everything else).

On Mother’s Day we reminisced about her early start with "organic" gardening. Her father and mother (my grandparents), Frank and Rose DeHass, operated a small grocery store in Beaver. It was a neighborhood store with a confectionary and sandwich shop. Mom isn't sure about its proper name because everyone called it "the little store." But, we think it was officially known as DeHass Grocery.

The family provided fresh produce for the store from its own gardens just a few blocks away. As children, my mother and her two brothers and sister worked in that garden. There was always a compost pile and my grandfather mixed a variety of potions, including soapy water and tobacco juice (my favorite), for pest control.

Sadly, my grandfather lost the store to bankruptcy in 1936 when he could no longer pay his own bills after providing credit to so many of his customers. Mom still cried when she talked about it. I think this may have been at the root of her enduring generosity.  But, even with the store gone, the traditions and skills of growing for the market were already in place.

When my mother and father were married, they soon acquired a small rural property and, as they say, the rest is history. The bible, according to Mom, was "Five Acres and Independence," a book first published in 1935 which became popular with young couples following World War II. And, independent she was.  One of my most prized possessions is my mother and father's copy of the book, which Mom presented to me a few years ago.

Mom reminded me that afternoon that I turned a compost pile for the first time when I was five years old.

Thank you, Mom.
 

Edith D. Hall Obituary

Posted by Ted Hall

Time Posted: Oct 10, 2009 at 1:00 PM
Ted Hall
 
June 21, 2009 | Ted Hall

Roots: Grandpa DeHass

Posted by Ted Hall

Today is Father’s Day, another day to celebrate the roots of all that we cherish. Today we honor my grandfather, Frank E. DeHass.

Anybody who has been on a tour of the ranch has heard me start the narrative with: "My mother was an organic gardening pioneer in the 1940s. . . . (as I reported on Mother’s Day). . . And, my grandfather (her father) had a grocery store and large garden where our family raised fresh produce for the store.”

Grandpa DeHass died 50 years ago in July, 1959, when I was 10 (almost 11) years old. He always called me “Butch,” the only one to ever use that nickname for me. Today I find myself reflecting on his legacy.

I have very distinct memories of sitting next to his rocking chair as he told stories. And, stories he had. Grandpa DeHass was in the U.S. Army in the Cavalry. He served in France during World War I and later in the Philippines.

But, by far his most exotic experience was his service with General John J. Pershing when the U.S. Army pursued Pancho Villa into Mexico in 1916-17. The Punitive Expedition was the last U.S. Cavalry expedition in U.S. military history.  During that expedition Grandpa DeHass was General Pershing’s bugler. Just imagine.

His souvenirs always fascinated me, too, including the bugle, his horse’s (mount's) bit, and a rolled up snake skin from the jungles of the Philippines.

Grandpa DeHass and his wife, Rose, (my grandmother) operated a small grocery store in Beaver, Pennsylvania, which is the county seat of Beaver County.

They had a great site on the corner of Third Street and Sassafras Alley which was conveniently at the end of the electric trolley line that carried passengers to Midland, the next town. The corner marked the city limits of Beaver and today the corner still features a large welcome sign.

It was a neighborhood store with a confectionery and sandwich shop. Grandma DeHass cooked the meals, including soups from the fresh vegetables and homemade fruit pies.  (Her parents had been in the restaurant business in nearby Woodlawn,which later became Aliquippa.) Known officially as “DeHass Grocery,” everyone called it "the little store," according to my mother.

The entire family worked hard to provide fresh produce for the store from the gardens just a block away. As children, my mother and her two brothers and sister worked in that garden.

There was always a compost pile and my grandfather mixed a variety of potions, including soapy water and tobacco juice, for pest control. Grandpa DeHass's methods pre-date the writings of fellow Pennsylvanian J.I. Rodale, the inventor of the phrase “organic gardening,” which would later capture my mother’s imagination. 

Sadly, my grandfather lost the store to bankruptcy in 1936 when he could no longer pay his own bills after providing credit to so many of his customers. But, the traditions and skills of growing for the market were already in place. My mother and father continued the tradition on our own small family farm in nearby Potter Township and my Uncle Jim planted an extraordinary garden for another 50 years.

I recently visited my grandparents’ grave in the Beaver town cemetery. The grave features a wonderful bronze marker memorializing Grandpa's service in the U.S. Cavalry.  With peculiar irony, I also realized that my grandparents are buried across the street almost within sight of the store's original location.

My grandfather would be pleased to see (maybe he does) that the site still has high commercial value -  now occupied by a brand new Rite Aid store. The biggest change is that Sassafras “Alley” is now called Sassafras "Lane!"

Just down the alley (er, "lane") is the site of the gardens. Amazingly, the site is still mostly open space. It includes a parking lot for the local electrician's union hall, but otherwise it is still an open field nearly 80 years later.  Standing there I could sense the hard work and satisfaction that had occurred there so many years ago.

I always admired my Grandfather’s quiet resolve, his careful attention to every detail (whether building fine cabinets or sharpening lawn mower blades), and his readiness to lend a hand.

Now, as Laddie, Chris, and I continue our family adventure with the new Farmstead project which has eery similarities to my grandparents' business (a retail store and restaurant on the edge of town featuring homegrown organic produce), I am increasingly drawn to this connection with my grandfather - the garden, his compost piles, the store, the restaurant, the bugle, the horses ("mounts"), and more. . . 

So, I guess the acorn does not fall far from the tree.  I hope he would be pleased.

Time Posted: Jun 21, 2009 at 8:00 PM