Archive for the ‘Farmland Indiana’ Tag
Virgil Oren Toney (my uncle Oren) died peacefully on Sunday, June 29, 2014 in his Indiana farm home. He was 89. He is the focus of this web-log entry*.
*I’ve entered this posting primarily for family and friends. “Friends” include neighbors, my former classmates and other school chums, members of my church, my dear former students (who more than likely heard me make references to farm life and/or my wonderful family) and others. I do not participate in social media communication because I fear that I might spend too much valuable time doing so. Therefore, I’m using my web-log as an outlet.
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My young mother was 16 when I was born in California in 1939. My father was 24 and had already served a full “hitch” in the Navy; however, he was pulled back in by World War II and served in the Pacific Theater as a Seabee. He returned in February, 1946 with both physical and emotional issues – both of which went untreated. Insult added to injury when his group returned from the War without fanfare and he had a tough time finding a job. Also, he more or less returned to a mess and his usage of alcohol increased. My dad, Don, had a good mind and a good heart but, in spite of that, things pretty much feel apart. He and my mother separated in 1949. He stayed on as a bartender in California while mom, Margaret (Maggie) and I bused to Muncie, Indiana to live with my maternal grandparents. This occurred shortly before my 10thbirthday. I was in the third grade. Thus, mistakes made by both of my parents led to an eventual divorce. The situation in California would have been bad for any child; there is no need to go into more detail. It suffices to say that the breakup, though painful, was in my best interest; I feel certain that my welfare was one of mother’s leading considerations.
I spent almost 3 days with dad during the late summer of 1950 when he took me to New York to see the final game of the World Series and then visited his Hoosier family. Then there was a two day period in 1954 when he came back to Indiana for the funeral of his brother, Elvyn. I did not see him again until 1961 when my dear Uncle Oren and Aunt Marge drove all the way out to California with their three young boys and me in their small Ford station wagon. Elvyn, named for the uncle he never saw, was in diapers. We did a lot of camping on the way out and back and, because of the places we visited (e.g. Yosemite) my interest in geology and meteorology blossomed. Shortly after I returned from this trip I changed my major at Ball State to earth sciences, now often referred to as the geosciences, and eventually completed a graduate study there. Thus, Oren and Marge were instrumental in my selection of a career and also instrumental in my having the will to stick it out in spite of the long hours of my full-time job. They had a great deal to do with the fact that I never felt alone. In fact, I’ve never felt alone in my entire life. I’ve always felt loved.
NOTE: After 1961 my father and I spent time together more frequently until the day he died in 1991.
My father’s parents, Ansel and Stella Toney, lived on a farm less than 15 miles east of the Muncie home. So, after mom and dad “split,” I was blessed with the great advantage of having both sets of grandparents in my life. I went to school in the city of Muncie and was technically, I suppose, a city kid. But I was able to spend considerable time, especially in the summers, on the farm working and playing and learning at a rapid rate. Learning a bit about honest, hard work was a blessing for me; much of it seemed like play.
Three of dad’s 5 siblings were close to home – the youngest “boy” Bill, the only “girl” Hazel, and Virgil Oren. Of the 6, Bill is the only one who remains alive today. Ivan Dunlap was in Los Angeles with his wife, May, and Elvyn was in Indianapolis with his wife, Lucille. Oren was a recently married 25-year-old when he became my primary role model. This happened very soon after I arrived in Indiana. At that time he and his brother, Bill, worked on my grandfather’s farm. Hazel lived in town (Farmland, Indiana) with her husband, Orpheus. Grandfather, Ansel Toney, later became well-known as the Hoosier farmer turned kite man.
Grandpa had a powerful influence upon me as did Bill. The same is true for my maternal grandfather, Harley, an absolutely wonderful man who set such a good example for me. But Oren was the one who I observed closely more than any other man, at least until my mother re-married when I was 15. Oren positioned me under his wing but he did not baby or spoil me. In other words, his wings were not typically soft and gentle; they sometimes came down hard but they were none-the-less good for me. He never did me any harm beyond triggering occasional and very brief hurt feelings in a hypersensitive boy. Timewise, that quickly diminished as I became more and more secure in my own skin. I credit him mostly for my experiencing that essential growth.
The importance of his wife (Aunt Marge) cannot be overstated. Describing her would require a very long chapter in any story of my life that included discussions of those who influenced me the most. Oren and Marge, as a loving couple, provided a model for those of us lucky enough to have the opportunity to observe. Additionally, his sons are like brothers to me.
Oren had already gone through the school of hard knocks by the time I got to Indiana. As a boy on the farm he grew up under conditions that were frequently difficult where he and his siblings had plenty of hard work to do. After the U.S.A entered World War II, he deliberately accelerated and increased his high school course load and managed to get enough credits for graduation before the end of the school year. At age 17 he joined the United States Navy. Enlisting prior to and thus missing his graduation exercise – his presence was symbolized by an empty chair. He served in both theaters of that war, European and Pacific. Miraculously, he lived through it. For the rest of Oren’s life the tender qualities of his heart and mind surfaced unmistakeably whenever he thought of those who didn’t survive. Among other terrible things, he had witnessed the direct hit of the light cruiser, U.S.S. Savannah (CL-42) by a radio guided German glide bomb. This occurred on September 11, 1943 during the invasion of Salerno, Italy. The Savannah had been the first American ship to open fire against the German shore defenses in Salerno Bay. The death toll aboard the Savannah from that glide bomb was 197 and 15 others were seriously wounded. From his battle station aboard his ship, the light cruiser Philadelphia (CL-41), Oren saw it happen and the memory stuck with him all of his life. I don’t ever remember hearing him mention it without tears in his eyes – pain and hurt in his voice. NOTE: Philadelphia narrowly evaded a glide bomb during that same operation, although several of her crew were injured when the bomb exploded.
Like all humans I know, Oren was not perfect. But he was perfect for me from the time I came home to Indiana with my mother until the day he died. He had more positive influence upon me than any man, with the possible exception of my stepfather. He played a most significant role in my internalization of an identity. Especially when he teamed up with his great brother, Bill, I was one of the luckiest boys in the world. As time marched on and we all got older, his importance in my life did not diminish. Decidedly different than Bill, there was one glaring similarity and that was their willingness to help others – whether or not they were family members. Once, not many miles short of a routine Air Force Reserve meeting at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio – my car broke down. Bill and Oren together rescued me; Bill drove his truck (his pride and joy) to tow the car all the way back to a Muncie repair shop where I had been given the privilege of paying off my repair bills in installments – without interest. It was run by the wonderfully helpful couple, Hank and Olive Swain.
Oren was clearly good to all of the spouses and the children of each generation loved him. People from all over the community, farmers and town dwellers alike, were so very fond of him.
Another World War II vet is gone. I’m not entirely joking when I often say, “Without him and others like him, we who now occupy the U.S.A. would probably be eating sauerkraut with chopsticks whether or not we wanted to – that is, assuming we had lived through the takeover.
My 4-year-long Muncie factory job (Beckett Bronze) that paid my college expenses and supported my small family was acquired on the basis of Oren’s reputation established when he had worked there. His recommendation got me in the door. He and his teammate, Marge, fed me and my family countless times at their kitchen table – the table that my daughter, Gina, has written about in a piece I have linked you to near the end of this posting.
I loved him so much. I’m sure that others have been similarly inspired by the goodness of Oren and Marge and I’m not the only person who has been guided by the two through times that would have been much tougher without them.
Here is his obituary written by his oldest son, Doug:
FARMLAND (Indiana) – Virgil “Oren” Toney, 89, Farmland, died Sunday, June 29, 2014 at his home.
Oren was a retired farmer. He also was retired from Warner Gear where he was a machinery repairman for twenty-seven years.
Oren was born on June 3, 1925, in Farmland, to Ansel and Stella Toney. He was a 1943 graduate of Farmland High School.
Oren joined the Navy at the age of 17 during World War II. He served proudly on the light cruiser USS Philadelphia in the Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea. He participated in the invasions of Sicily, Salerno, Anzio and Southern France. After Germany’s surrender, he was assigned to the destroyer USS Bordelon, where he served in the Pacific until February 1946. Note added: The Bordelon operated as a part of the occupation force in Japan.
He was a lifetime member of the Farmland American Legion Post and enjoyed attending annual reunions with his former shipmates from the USS Philadelphia.
Oren was married for sixty-five years to Marjorie Truex Toney, who survives. Other survivors include his brother, Wilbur “Bill” Toney, Farmland; two sons, Marc Toney, Parker City, and Doug Toney and his wife, Patty Ryan Toney, New Braunfels, TX; eight grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; numerous nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.
He was preceded in death by a son, Elvyn Boyd Toney; his parents, Ansel and Stella Toney; three brothers, Ivan, Don and Elvyn, and a sister, Hazel Mae Meranda.
No visitation or public services are planned. A private ceremony for family will be conducted at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that memorial contributions be directed to the Rehoboth United Methodist Church, 3955 North 1000 West, Parker City, IN, 47340.
Written by my daughter, Gina in 2012: https://cloudman23.wordpress.com/tag/oren-toney/
My young mother (written Dec. 2, 2010): https://cloudman23.wordpress.com/2010/12/02/my-mother-12-2-2010/
Oren’s father/my grandfather: http://www.farmlandindiana.org/ansel-toney-the-kite-man.htm
Note: In the previous photo at the very bottom of the link grandpa Toney is with his son Bill (on the left side of photo wearing glasses) and Oren is on the right side of photo.
Light Cruiser Philadelphia, CL-41
Destroyer U.S.S. Bordelon, DD-881
U.S.S. Philadelphia Service Record
I am blessed to have four terrific children. Their birth years are 1962, 1966, 1986, and 1989. The first three are my daughters and the last is my son. I’m thrilled to be their daddy and thank the Great Guy In the Sky for the privilege. 1966 daughter, Gina, sent this to me a few days ago. I thought I’d share it.
Tonie Ansel Toney (Cloudman23)
The Kitchen Table
Gina Toney Lavatai
Farmland, Indiana is your typical Hometown, USA. The population is small enough where people know you, or know someone who knows you and everyone seems to know the details of your life. Where ice cream socials, street fairs with cake walks and hometown parades still exist. It is here where I spent many summers growing up and here is where my heart calls home.
I miss those summers spent in Indiana on the farm I am often transported back to those summer days with the smell of fresh baked snicker doodle cookies or seeing children catch lightning bugs in a jar. Sometimes its seeing my own children playing outside at night with flashlights or hearing a family story thats been shared time and time again. Whatever the trigger, I love how it always brings me back to the hours spent at the kitchen table.
My Aunt Marge and Uncle Oren are technically my Great Aunt and Uncle on my dad’s side. However, I would consider them to be as close as grandparents to me. They live on a farm and have lived there since the beginning of time. Every summer when we would go home, we would stay on the farm with them. My days were filled with playing outside in the fields, making homemade ice-cream, walking around collecting Queen Ann’s Lace, playing in the barn, visiting cousins or cutting the tons of grass on the riding mower. My evenings were filled with catching fireflies, playing flash light tag in the pines, arm wrestling with my cousins in the front room, and waiting for my uncle to get home from work.
Uncle Oren was a farmer by day and a factory worker at Warner Gear in Muncie at night. When we would visit, he would love to call home on his CB radio and pretend he was racing to cross the tracks before the train came through. Half the time, he would pretend like he didn’t make it and came to a horrible demise! That always caused our hearts to skip a beat!
Our nightly ritual was to get out the cheddar cheese and saltines and lay them on a plate. Aunt Marge would typically start pulling out some leftovers from our earlier supper too. One of the things Aunt Marge was known for, was never letting you leave her kitchen hungry.
When we heard the gravel spitting from the tires, we knew he was home. The final step was to pull out a cold Michelob for Uncle Oren, or Orenry as I liked to call him.
There we would be, excited as kids would be hoping to see Santa at Christmas, waiting for Uncle Orenry to come through the mud room door. He would sit down, pop his top on his cold beer and we would start talking about his day or just telling family stories as he munched on his cheese and crackers. Uncle Orenry is the best story teller. We would sit there laughing for hours until we had to pull ourselves away and go to bed.
The table in that kitchen is more than a piece of furniture where meals are shared. It is a place were sorrow and loss have been worked through. It is a place were life has been celebrated. It is a place were hard decisions have been made. It is a place where heartfelt laughter and joy have resonated and most of all, it is without a doubt the best definition of LOVE.
I truly miss my summers around the table and being on the farm. I hope my children get the opportunity to experience a piece of life at the Toney Farm Kitchen Table one day soon. It is one place that really reminds you what life is supposed to be about.
ABOVE: A recent photo of my son, Colin Toney, taking a picture of me taking a picture of him taking a picture of me (taking a picture of him taking a picture of me) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
TO GO TO TONIE TONEY’S ASSORTED PICS PAGE EITHER GO DIRECTLY TO THE TAB AT THE TOP OF THIS PAGE OR CLICK ON THIS LINK:
A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE CONTENTS FOLLOWS.
52. A view by Colin Toney of a part of the crest of the Black Mountain range – taken from near the summit parking lot of Mt. Mitchell. The building in the foreground is a picnic shelter.
51. Colin Toney’s image of fog surrounding deciduous trees not far from our cabin.
TO GO TO COLIN TONEY’S PICS:
50. By my son, Colin Toney – a splendid view looking down upon the high Piedmont from the Blue Ridge Parkway.
49. THE BLACKS LOOKING BLACK. Silhouette of the southern third of the Black Mt. Range in North Carolina showing Mt. Mitchell, Mt. Craig, Big Tom, and Balsam Cone.
48. FOR ALL BUTTS, BIG OR SMALL. A sign instructing what you can do with your butt when you are in the small town of Farmland, Indiana.
47. N.W. CORNER OF MAIN AND HENRY STREETS – FARMLAND, INDIANA – 2010. A 112-year-old brick building in Farmland, Indiana (population less than 1,300 – no stoplights).
46. ESSENTIALS FOR A MAN WHEN USING A CHAIN SAW. The safety devices shown in this photo could prevent a disaster.
45. ZOIE – OCTOBER 27, 2010. White can studying her reflection in a television screen.
44. OCTOBER 25, 2010 NEAR THE BLACK MOUNTAINS. Surrounded by my neighbors in our little mountain community called Mountain Cove.
43. OCTOBER IN RANDOLPH COUNTY, INDIANA. A photo by my son, Colin Toney, of a serene scene in east-central Indiana farming country on ground moraine left behind by a retreating continental glacier.
42. PARKWAY VIEW IN WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA. Beautiful autumn colors in the mountains from the Blue Ridge Parkway.
41. VIEW LOOKING WESTWARD FROM STUMPKNOCKERS. The cypress and oak lined Withlacoochee River as it flows past a popular restaurant which offers, among other things, alligator (both in the river and on your plate).
40. MOSS ON STONES. A large stone covered with moss. Location – off the Appalachian Trail on Roan Mountain.
39. OLD BARN – BLACK AND WHITE. Appalachia is a paradise for many reasons. For example, one who likes to photograph in black and white can find countless subjects.
38. HEAVEN ON EARTH. A “Sound of Music” view looking southward from Roan Mountain, Tennessee.
37. “MOTIONLESS STONES TEND TO GATHER MOSS!” I pull weeds from the gravel drive where we park next to our cabin but the moss is so pretty I don’t bother it.
36. THE TONEY LANE. The farm of Virgil Oren & Marge Toney has been a long-time favorite place for me. Oren, at 85, still mows this lane, less than half of which you can see in this photo.
35. ROSE-OF-SHARON BLOOMING IN MY BACK WOODS IN FLORIDA. A beautiful flowering plant that seems to require little care beyond semi-annual pruning.
34. MY PERFECT HIKING COMPANION. Since our first hike together (many years ago in May) to ice-covered Lake Solitude in the Tetons, I knew that this lady would stick with me in the back country and the back roads of life.
33. THE VALLEY OF THE WATAUGA RIVER AT VALLE CRUCIS, NORTH CAROLINA. A nice example of a flood plain in the mountains where the favored alluvial soil is at a premium.
32. THIN CURTAIN OF RAYS IN FRONT OF THE BLACK MOUNTAINS. This is one of my favorite photos taken by my son, Colin Toney. If the air were perfectly clean, these “sun-rays” would not appear. Thank goodness the air is not perfectly clean. To learn why – go to the second item at this link to meteorology misconceptions: http://ztechzone.net/learningzone/science/science55/meteorology1.html
31. OLD CHEVY BESIDE STILL FORK CREEK RD. Each year I expect this old car to disappear – hopefully to be restored. But, like so many of the people I know in the mountains, it lingers through all kinds of weather – just a bit more worn the next time I see them – yet – no more than me.
30. “LET’S GO ON ANOTHER TRIP!” Ziggie and Zoie, our two young girl cats, love to travel. They barely make a peep while inside their crate secured to the seat behind the driver in our van.
29 & 28. LILIES OF TOE VALLEY. These two photos show lilies that grow next to our cabin – requiring no care whatsoever. They have always been prolific. The photo also shows a use for hand soap of which most people are unaware.
27. CRABTREE FALLS, N.C. Blue Ridge Parkway mile 339.5 is near the trailhead to this beautiful waterfall. It’s worth the 2.5 mile hike.
26. BLUE MOUNTAINS UNDER A BLUE SKY. I’ve never had difficulty over the naming of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
25. OLD MAN GAZING HEAVENWARD. Grandfather Mountain’s crest when viewed from the north side displays the origin of its name.
24. NATURAL BRIDGES. Ice storms and winds bring down many trees in our southern forests. These fallen trees provide a way to cross without getting wet.
23. FLORIDA, THE SUNSHINE STATE! A curious mixture of sunshine and ice at the northeast corner of our house.
22. ALTOCUMULUS LENTICULARIS NEAR MT. MITCHELL, N.C. Oh how I wish I could have seen this also from the aircraft above.
21. THE BLACK MOUNTAIN RANGE FROM TABLE ROCK’S SUMMIT. We hiked the trail to the top of Table Rock (a Blue Ridge Parkway landmark) for this view.
20. TABLE ROCK, N.C. An easy vantage point to reach at the Blue Ridge Parkway Chestoa Overlook near mile 320 of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Table Rock overlooks the famous Linville Gorge.
19. RAINBOW SPRINGS FOREST. Just spitting distance from our Florida home, Rainbow Springs at the head of the Rainbow River near Dunnellon, Florida is a popular attraction.
18. LILACS IN THE SPRING AT OUR MOUNTAIN CABIN. These lilacs only last about a month at our place a bit above 3000′.
17. WISTERIA IN THE SPRING – HOME IN FLORIDA. I’m still amazed at how these spring back in the spring after dealing with our freezing episodes.
16. SANTA DOWN. An empty wine bottle might point to Santa’s problem on this particular morning.
15. THE BLACK MOUNTAIN RANGE IN THE DISTANCE. From 17 miles away – the Black Mountains still cause me to marvel at their formidable beauty. Among the oldest mountains in North America, they used to be higher than today’s Alps.
14. SWAN SONG – BLACK AND WHITE. Just as some peoples brains run a mile a minute as they are motionless, this, “calm,” stately, serene animal’s little legs run below the water faster than you can whistle “Dixie.”
13. ALTAPASS VIEW. From behind the famous apple orchard’s main building – autumn colors adorn the slopes.
12. PRIVATE SITTING ROOM – BLACK & WHITE. Oh how much sitting and thinking has occurred here through the years?
11. TWO LITTLE DICKENS’ – THE TAILS OF TWO KITTIES. These feline “girls” are back to back and sound asleep.
10. LAKE HENDERSON – On the east side of Inverness, Florida – this is one of my favorite lakes for sailing my little Hutchins sloop.
9. FORK IN THE ROAD – BLACK AND WHITE. One can’t walk this way without seeing some deer. It’s almost as though they know we are not interested in shooting them except with the camera.
8. PARADISE LOST. Close to my Florida home, no matter how many times I’ve seen this, it brings up a smile.
7. REFLECTIONS ON PEPPER CREEK – BLACK & WHITE. South of Crystal River, Florida, this creek flows within Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.
6. ZOIE’S FIRST FLORIDA CHRISTMAS – my wife’s photo of a cat who has claimed taken possession of our Christmas tree and the gifts beneath.
5. DESCENT TO THE TOE. The wild and magical incline of the eastern flank of the Blacks running down to the Toe River valley.
4. MONTICELLO (CELLO) 1997-2009. My wife’s favorite U.S. President is Thomas Jefferson. This should explain the name. Cello was a wonderful dog.
3. MONTI – 2005-2009. My baby boy had an inoperable heart problem. He didn’t last long. Oh how he was loved!
2. NEWLY ADOPTED FELINE GIRLS – ZIGGIE & ZOIE. These girls have grown to become sweet young ladies – very much different, one from the other.
1. NEW MEXICO’S SUGARLOAF. This mountain is within the Organ Mountains near Las Cruces, New Mexico. This is a range I want to explore further.
HERE IS A LINK TO THE LISTED PHOTOS: