Uncle Walter Lehman was the fourth son of my grandparents, David and Sarah Lehman. Uncle Walter spent much of his life up the hill from The Old Fool’s childhood home.
Uncle Walter was four years old when he moved from where he was born a few miles east of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania to the farm that became known for several generations as the Lehman farms. The dirt road that ran past his farm and my father’s blueberry acres became officially known as Lehman Road. It can be found on a mapquest as such.
Many times as a boy The Old Fool walked the road up the hill to his uncle’s farm, but he sometimes went the more direct route and climbed the hill itself. The Old Fool got to know the hill personally at age six when his 12 year old brother literally dragged him through the snow and up the hill on the way to school. In 1936, the snow was so deep and so thickly crusted by layers of frozen rain that The Old Fool walked alone over fences and up the hill. In summer the upper level of the hill was farmed with wheat but grass on the lower hill controlled the erosion.
Uncle Walter was a farmer, and he became TOF’s first employer, paying him a dollar a day as recalled. Hia work usually centered around harvest season and harvest day. He learned how to shock wheat, how to use a fork to pitch sheaves onto the wagon. At the peak of his skill, as he remembers it, he was e allowed to get on the threshing machine and guide the blower when building the straw stack. On wheat threshing days the young fool ate with the men at Aunt Ada’s sumptuous dinner table.
Uncle Walter was also a pastor with an evangelist’s heart. He was the preacher when at age nine TOF stood in the church to give his heart to Jesus. When TOF became a pastor Walter told him, “Martin, it is your responsibility to take the church as you received it and pass it on to the next generation unchanged.” That was in the younger and more conservative years of Uncle Walter’s ministry.
In his more mature years Uncle Walter was elected president of the local mission board and became more progressive. In that position he struggled mightily with the man who as bishop had the authority to forbid all innovation. Years of experience can change perspective.