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Halloween Hayrides

How do you entertain kids who are really too old to trick or treat? 

            Edna and Delmer Crouch, volunteer youth leaders at Byrdstown First Christian Church, knew exactly what to do with us young teens many years ago.  They loaded hay, some baled and some loose, in the back of a truck, told us kids to hop on, and then drove all over Pickett County for hours.  Every teen who attended church showed up for hayrides, even if they never went to regular Sunday night CYF, Christian Youth Fellowship, and Edna and Delmer encouraged us to bring friends.

            Remembering hayrides, I think of cold evenings, full moons, star-filled skies, wool blankets, and singing.  My memories are all happy, all romanticized, but I needed the help of two high school friends for details.

Sometimes Delmer drove a pick-up truck and sometimes a big truck with racks around the truck bed.  When he drove the pickup, we had to sit, but when he drove the big truck, we could stand.  Standing was fun; we swayed as we sang every verse of “Kumbaya” and “The Ants Go Marching One by One.”  

Sitting in a pickup wasn’t as much fun; maybe because we couldn’t lean our whole bodies with the curves.  Or maybe because it was common everyday practice for kids, of all ages, who lived in rural communities in the 1950s and 60s to ride in the back of a pickup truck.  No seats, no seat belts. 

Sometimes we even sat with the tailgate down to drag our feet on the road, but not on church hayrides because the tailgate was securely latched. While Delmer drove, Edna looked back through the cab window often and if someone wasn’t seated or threw a leg over the side of the truck, Delmer put the brakes on and the truck stopped.  Neither he nor Edna got out of the cab.  When the truck stopped, the culprit straightened up.

Edna’s watchful eyes must have also caught a kiss or two.  In fact, that was one friend’s memory:  on a hayride he kissed a girl, but he didn’t remember who.  Kissing couples didn’t kiss for long; we girls giggled at them and the boys teased and the kissers blushed. 

Sometimes we’d stop at a church member’s home where there’d be a campfire to roast hotdogs and marshmallows and sit around the fire to hear stories.  One night, Vicky wasn’t quite finished eating her perfectly browned marshmallows so she took them back on the truck.  Soon, white sticky marshmallows were in her hair and stuck in hay. What a mess!

Delmer and Edna’s son and daughter-in-law were the chaperones for one hayride, and we rode in the back of their big two-ton truck, usually used to haul corn.  The son drove around the river hill hairpin curves down to Dale Hollow Lake and into the lake just to scare us.  He did.  Delmer would never have done that. Martha summed up hayrides perfectly when she wrote, “I loved those hayrides! We always begged Delmer for a longer ride. Always.”   

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