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Farmers: As far as I was concerned the coolest thing anyone could be in Warwick was a farmer. Sometimes kids from other towns would call us farmers, as if to ridicule us. We took it as a compliment.
        The truth was that I wasn’t a real farmer, but I tried to find farm work whenever I could. My favorite work was picking up hay bales. Other available farm work was picking apples, and pulling, stacking and weeding onions. In the late summer you could also work in the cornfields but I never did that.
        As a farmer wannabe I learned all of the farmer talk and was carefull to memorize all I could about the various farm chores. I knew that on the onion farms the first thing was putting out sets, then came weeding followed by pulling onions and stacking onions at harvest time. On dairy farms I knew that the late spring was time for the first cut of hay and if conditions were right there might be a second cut in late July. Consequently whenever I saw a farmer in town in July I always asked about the second cut. Something like this, “Hey Al. Get a second cut yet?” They were always polite, the real farmers. They never said anything like “Shut up dope, you don’t know a second cut from a crew cut.” I appreciated that, because after all who was I to be asking about second cuts.
        One of the best farmer things you could do, after working in the fields, was to ride into town on the back of a truck, and go to the custard stand for ice cream. As far as I could tell, everyone was impressed with farm work. Parents, girls, and other guys. In other words the whole world.
        Whenever I worked on a farm or anywhere for that matter, I always looked for heavy things to lift, because I wanted to get those large farmer muscles. I especially wanted to have farmer hands, calloused and with thick fingers.
        Lifting weights was not a respectable way get muscles in the fifties. Whatever muscles you got you had to get at real work and farm work was the best of all real work.

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Orange County, NY in the 40s and 50s

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