So many things in life are much harder to do than I feel we realize. I always felt items such as decorating and that either can be inside or outside of the house takes a keen eye and a good sense of color coordination. (Neither of which do I have much talent in.) Choosing and coordinating clothing so that it matches and catch the eyes of those around you. How to be a guest at a gathering and come off as an interesting guest and the host was glad they invited you. These of course are just a few but a sample of what we take for granted or at least I do.
One venue is to host a gathering and deliver a time that will not be long forgotten. To this day I can only think of one couple that in their time and even today could in no way be topped. That would be my Cousin Tom Houser and his wife Lydia. They were unique to begin with. Lydia was the only child of a family from Pleasant Ridge in Cincinnati and grew up loving and learning how to entertain in the way of the city. Tom was the youngest of three children and was raised out on a farm on a road named Houser Road ironically and graduated from Moscow high school. I feel Tom was born with a big smile on his face as he usually was wearing it. He was very musically talented as he could play just about any instrument by ear and if he had heard a tune more than twice he could just sit down to a piano and play it. Along with this, he was well into photography and was the shutterbug.
After they married they inherited the farm owned by her family and would spend the winters in the city and the summers at the farm. So in the summers they entertained neighbors, relatives and friends from the city. Now Lydia was very talented in baking and cooking. She would find items that might be new to this area and prepare them so it would be your first taste of what was new, awesome, and very rich. I honestly do not think she could boil water without it being rich. Along with this skill, Lydia was the most gracious host. Therefore, from upon arrival until you left you felt so welcome and made you feel that Lydia was very honored to have you in her home and be her guest.
So if you took Lydia’s talents at catering and her skills at making you welcome along with Tom’s talents of entertaining through music and his unique sense of humor they today could make a fortune as party givers. In all the many years, I got to be at one of their parties or just observed from afar their gatherings were always the hit of the neighborhood. Tom would help serve at the meal time and Lydia would convince you that if you didn’t eat one more serving you might have hurt her feelings and no guest wanted to hurt such a nice ladies feelings for sure. The meals consisted of many items from the appetizers to the entries and then her deserts. She most times would serve red velvet or German chocolate cake and both made from scratch clear down to the icing.
After completing a three course, meal people moaned and groaned from being stuffed and moved slowly into the living room or out onto the lawn furniture where Tom would fire up the piano and play a game of name that tune. In all the years, I saw him do this I never saw him ever stumped. Somewhere along the way, he would do a silly Liberace imitation but he kept on playing and the guests would either sing along or try to give him a song he did not know. As the evening ran into the sunset Tom would move the guests into the living room again and put on a slide show which was popular in those days and if it was today and with Tom’s narration along the way which was very interesting and funny I feel it would still keep a crowds interest as to what will he say next. With the evening growing late and a few hours had passed since supper had been served there would be one more surprise.
The guests would be escorted onto their enclosed porch and There Tom would be operating the ice cream machine and freezing a new batch of homemade ice cream. During the slide show, Lydia had been mixing up a batch of ice cream for Tom to put the freeze to. Now Lydia had a secret recipe that I do know had a lot of cream in it and I never learned what else but I can tell you all that it was, yes you guessed it very rich! As it became frozen, Tom began dipping it out and I do not think anyone ever declined a bowl of it. At least I know I never did. Remember it would have been very rude to have insulted such a grand hostess.
As the bowls would empty it was safe to see the crowd had had a full night and of not only awesome foods but also a fun time being entertained and feeling, they too were a part of the night they had just taken part in. It seemed that one by one, the couples would head out to the barnyard where the cars were all parked and Tom and Lydia walked each one of them to their cars. Here was where as the guests were saying thanks they were saying it just would not have been such a great time if they had not been there.
I have abbreviated one of their gatherings but folks let me tell you I never heard a soul regret having been in the gathering. I guess what always seemed to amaze me was that my cousins’ never seemed to be tired from all they had just done. Actually, it seemed the opposite happened. It seemed that Tom and Lydia gained more energy from getting to have the event. Those days are gone and I miss them for sure but I do have my memories and they are some of the very happiest of my life. Therefore, I will taste another piece of German Chocolate Cake and my first taste of lasagna and polish it off with a big bowl of homemade ice cream. No folks I doubt I will ever forget.
Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and loves to share stories about his youth and other topics. If you are interested in reading more of his stories they can be found in his books ‘There are Places to Remember” and’ Memories ARE from the Heart.” He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to P.O. Box 213 Bethel, Ohio 45106.