Friday, January 08, 2016

(submitted to New Wilmington Globe/Leader)

Some Luacres History 

Our family moved from Highland Avenue, New Castle to Valley Road in Neshannock Township in May 1942. Dad, a dentist, was in the Army Reserve having served in WW I and knew he would be activated that summer. There were five of us ranging in age from 14 years to nine months (me). Mother said that if she had to raise her family alone she wanted to be in the country not in the city.
Mother and older kids were not strangers to spartan living. They had spent the previous ten summers in a cottage with no electricity or indoor plumbing near Volant located just below the dam. But they were not experienced at farming. The place they bought from Tom and Daisy Smith consisted of 63 acres, a house, barn and several out buildings. Her friends thought she was crazy, but it became the training ground for the Lutz family.  We called the place Luacres.
The ensuing three and a half years, until the end of the War and Dad’s return to his practice in the Greer Building on Mercer Street, were filled with one new experience after another. Some included learning to milk the five cow herd; how to till the soil with a team of horses; how to tend a Boomer coal fired furnace; how to survive the war years with rationing.
I was too young to remember those early years, but I was tuned in as a six year old when I started school at Walmo in 1947. In 1946 and 1947 we welcomed
Jonathan Byler (from Volant) to Luacres. He lived with us and ran the farm to fulfill the requirements of his military deferment. Jon (we pronounced it Yone) was just 19 and gave our family a taste of Amish culture, which stayed with all of us. After he left our farm and married, there were frequent visits to Jonathan and Deana Byler’s place over the years to renew old friendships.
During Thanksgiving break of 1950 the Big Snow left an indelible mark in my memory as Brother Dave, two neighbors and I took a load of 5 and 10 gallon cans of milk to Linger Light Dairy by tractor and wagon into New Castle. I recall the trip up Mercer Road to the Neshannock Fire Hall where we left two five gallon cans for neighbors who might be out of milk, across Shenango Road, south on  Wilmington Road and down Jefferson Street hill where we stopped for lunch on the Diamond. On the trip home we fetched a 55 gallon drum of fuel oil for a neighbor. Heady stuff for a nine year old.
As my siblings left home (Joe to the Navy and then Penn State, Dave also to Penn State, Phyllis to IUP, Jim to the Air Force and Slippery Rock) I  became the sole kid on the farm in 1956. By this time I was in George Washington and headed to NeCaHi (where all five of us graduated) to be a member in the last class (1959) to come from Neshannock. I spent my teen years raising replacement heifers for Harold Green of Glen Road. Mr. Green was Brother Dave’s father-in-law I worked both at home with my small herd of cattle that I raised for 4-H projects and at the Green farm with their 60 head of Holsteins. After graduation I headed to Penn State to study agriculture.
While I was finishing my junior year (1962) Dad died in his office. While Mother hung on to the farm for a couple of years we were all building our own lives around the country. The old house with its coal furnace became too much for her.
Luacres was sold in pieces: the house and barn and land west of Valley Road in 1964 and the bulk of the land east of Valley Road to the Neshannock Creek in the mid-1970s.
After Penn State, I spent five years in the Navy, taught school, worked for Campbell Soup who sent us to Michigan in the early 1970s. My wife Aleene (Laurel 1961)
and I raised our family there and stayed for 35 years. Today we reside in Newberg, Oregon where our daughter Amy and her family live.

I have had an interesting career mostly in in education and human resources, but I still self identify as “a farmer kid from Pennsylvania.”

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