View from Hickory Heights: Rural Living

I have now lived in this area for more than fifty years. My husband, a dairy farmer, brought me to this area. When we first moved here, we lived in a trailer. We had to be near his work. His parents allowed us to move the trailer into their yard. It was small, but it was ours. We had two children before we moved out.

Five years later we made the move to Hickory Heights. We did not name our farm. It was named by people who lived here before us. We found the name in a newspaper article about a wedding that was held in the yard.

Once we had our house fixed up, I got a call from a lady that lived nearby. She told me we lived in her homestead. She said the lady that was married in the yard had relatives that were visiting over the summer. She asked if they could visit.

When they came to visit, they brought old pictures – some from the wedding. They gave them to us. They are now framed and have become part of my home’s history.

Small town life is not for everyone I realize, but it was right for me. First, I was a sister-in-law to the lady who made the beautiful cakes. Then, I was the mother of two children. Finally, I got an identity of my own as I branched out and became a teacher at our local school.

After years of substituting all over the county, I finally had a classroom of my own. I was respected for my way of teaching and handling the children.

Next, came my stint of doing publicity for the Warren County Fair. I had that role for nineteen years. I went out to speak about the fair. I wrote press releases. I negotiated contracts with newspapers and radio and television stations.

From that position, I was asked by the local newspaper if I could cover township meetings. I assumed that role dictating my article the next morning for publication.

That finally led to my being a columnist for three papers. I never expected to become a writer. I asked to take my master’s exam orally because I was unsure of my writing ability. I knew if I was answering orally and saw a look of questioning, I could reply about my answer. By then I had taught more than ten years so I had experience.

After that experience I took some correspondence courses to improve my writing ability. Not all was smooth sailing. I often had to redo an assignment or at least part of it.

I took courses at Chautauqua. My first experience there was nearly disastrous. I knew that I was in over my head when the terms used were not even familiar to me. But I persevered. I finished my class and went on from there.

It has been a lot of hard work, but I guess you could say I have made it. I have written my column for twenty-eight years and produced five books.

Much of what I have accomplished is due to the fact that I live in a small town. I loved my job as a teacher. I loved my students and got along well with parents from this area. I seemed to have a sixth sense for teaching.

When Don and I married he was amazed at all of the people who took time to talk to me when we were out. We’d be eating our meal and someone would ask, “Are you the lady who writes in the newspaper?” They knew about me from my column.

He saw how many reactions I got via telephone or e-mail. I finally subscribed to caller id because I was tired of all the scam calls. If someone called and left me a message, I knew that they wanted to talk to me so I could call them back or simply pick up the phone.

Rural living is for me. I do not mind not having a neighbor within reach. I can always call my neighbor or text them. When I first moved to the country there was a club called the Friendly Neighbor Club. All of the neighbor ladies met once a month in their homes. We helped each other when someone needed it. We served at neighbor’s funerals and sent in food if someone was sick. We were a real community back then. I enjoyed being part of that community. Now, I think there is only two of us left. All the rest have gone on to their reward.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa. Contact at hickoryheights1@verizon.net.


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