Memories of long ago on the farm
by Clyde Whitaker
As I was out driving around today with my toy poodle Ruben, we passed the former Krummrey Farm on M-106—now Young’s Turf Farm—located just outside of Stockbridge heading west. I’m sure all of us have driven by this farm thousands of times on our trips to Jackson.
I have more memories of this farm than space will allow me to share with you here in this column, but I’ll share a few. I was born at the Rowe Memorial Hospital in Stockbridge during a major snowstorm. My mom and dad drove from the Krummrey Farm to the hospital for my birth. Dad said he didn’t think they would make it, but here I am.
My dad was the farm manager at the Krummrey Farm, doing the hiring, firing, and overseeing the workforce. We lived in a small, four-room white house on the farm. At about 8-9 years old, I began working on the farm. Up at 6 a.m. and working from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m., 10-hour days! This early work experience helped to form the work ethic I still have today. It was a tough life, but I would do it all over again; it taught me much.
The road down to my house from M-106 was gravel and very rough for bike riding. One day, after a warning from my mother NOT to, I rode my bicycle down that long gravel road to M-106, which was so nice and smooth! Peering down the gravel road to my house, there she was, my mother, standing in the middle of the road with her hands on her hips! Oh boy!. You can bet this 5-year-old learned to ride on gravel for the remainder of the time we lived on the farm; until I turned 10 and we bought a house outside of Munith.
In addition to the Monday through Friday hours, we also worked Saturdays from 7 a.m. until noon. Saturday was payday, my favorite day of the week. There was a small building in the center of the complex that stored tons of onion bags, etc. From that building, either Don Krummrey or Bob Krummrey would pay the workers with cash, based on the hours we worked that week.
As an 8-year-old watching this process unfold, I asked my dad if those onion bags were full of money, since they were paying us cash out of that building. My dad would laugh, then proceed to pay me half of what I had earned that week. I thought I was rich! I bought a small RCA television, a banana seat Stingray bicycle, plus other things I felt I needed. I understood I was helping out the family, plus I didn’t need all of that money anyway, since Mom and Dad always provided for us.
Back when we lived on the farm, we had no phone, no video games, no computers, no cable TV—only a black and white unit. How did we survive? We survived by using our imaginations, spending most of our time outdoors exploring and throwing rocks. Throwing rocks, you ask? Yes indeed, across the road from our house was a large storage building. I spent many an hour throwing rocks toward the roof of that building. Sometimes I would just manage to hit the roof, but eventually I could throw over the roof. Looking back, this was one of the activities that I attribute to helping me develop a strong pitching arm. It paid off when I spent three years pitching on the Stockbridge varsity baseball team, leading me to a 17-3 record.
It was hard, hot, dirty work on the farm, but it helped develop a work ethic for everyone that worked there. I believe it’s a safe bet that many, many people from Stockbridge worked at the Krummrey farm at one time or another.
My dad was a no-nonsense guy when you were working on the farm. He had to be because the owners, Carl, Bob and Don Krummrey expected it. Oh, there was some fun on the farm at times, whether it be my buddy Harry Krummrey and I racing trucks across the fields or hiding ourselves in the onion rows until my dad came along and tapped our feet with his hoe. Dad understood us young guys.
This is just a very small snippet about life on the farm in those early years of my life. The experience taught me how to face adversity and how to strive for something more. It was those humble beginnings that later led to 21 years as a human resource manager at a multimillion-dollar medical device company in Chelsea, Michigan.
In closing, it’s been my honor, privilege and pleasure to present this real-life story to you. Until next time, take care of one another and treasure each and every day you are given.
All photos by Clyde Whitaker.
Clyde Whitaker is a 1973 Stockbridge graduate. He and his wife, Mary, raised four children in Stockbridge, and they still reside in the Stockbridge area.