Dear Dad and Mom

Recognition of Mother’s Day in May and Father’s Day in June is important to acknowledge the individual role each plays in lives of children. We should recognize and celebrate the joint effort of both parents. Senator Trent Lott introduced Congressional Resolution (36 U.S.C. § 135); National Parents’ Day. The law, signed in 1994, states the recognition of the “…uplifting, and supporting the role of parents in the rearing of children.”  

As children we didn’t think twice about the things our parents (or caregivers) did on an everyday basis that showed their love. And that’s fine—you were busy being a kid! Plus, while most parents do all they can to help their kids grow into happy adults, from preparing healthy breakfasts before school to being a personal chauffeur for extracurricular activities, they do it out of love, not a desire to be thanked. That’s why it can mean so much if, as an adult, you make sure they know how much you appreciate them. Not only can expressions of gratitude strengthen your relationship with your family, but they can also promote optimism in your own life.
(5 Simple Ways to Show Your Parents Appreciation, 2016)

Since National Parents’ Day is Sunday June 26 and with collaboration from my sister, we would like to thank our parents for their “work”.  There is no time like the present to let our parents know we care.  

Dear Dad and Mom,

We feel proud to have you as our parents and want to let you know we are grateful for your care.  You put us on the path for a great life.  Your effort and guidance kept us on the “straight and narrow”; an honest and moral life.  The values you instill in us continues to guide our growth and development.  Your commitment and support are invaluable. 

We knew we could always count on you and will always be grateful for being our parents.  At times we thought you were “on our back” for no reason but we now realize that you were “watching our back.”  We understand your goal was for us to grow up to be the best we could be, and we now thank you for your diligence. 

It is nice to know that we are, at times, the reason behind your smile…especially when you tell each of us privately that we are the best daughter!!   HAHA!!  If we could choose our parents again, we would choose you.

Several years ago, we gave each of our parents a memory book.  This memory book was a simple list of our memories as a family.  This weekend my sister and I selected some of our favorite memories.  

Me & Sis

Memories of Dad and Mom

  • TALKS ABOUT FORMING THE “JIM DANDY” PAINT COMPANY
  • “RABBIT”…WE STILL WONDER WHY YOU WERE NEVER “IT”.
  • “TOE STOMPERS”…WE STILL WONDER WHY YOU WERE NEVER “IT”.
  • HAND TENNIS WITH TENNIS BALLS WE FOUND
  • HELPING US TO LEARN TO BE FINANCIALLY RESPONSIBLE PEOPLE
  • LETTING US KEEP SLEEPY WHEN SHE WALKED UP OUR DRIVEWAY ONE RAINY DAY
  • THE APPLE FESTIVAL
  • REMEMBERING OUR FAVORITE MEALS WHEN WE VISIT
  • COMING TO OUR RESCUE WHEN WE QUIT OUR CORN DETASSLING JOB (REALLY, THE CORN WAS TOO TALL)
  • WRITING SENTENCES – WE STILL HAVE WRITER’S CRAMP BUT AS USUAL EVERYTHING WAS A LEARNING EXPERIENCE.
  • GOING TO THE ANIMAL SHELTER TO GET CHIPPIE
  • HOMEMADE SOUP
  • FREE GROCERIES ON SUNDAY
  • COUNTRY SHOWS 
  • KEEPING INDIVIDUAL FOLDERS FOR EACH OF US WITH ARTICLES SPECIFICALLY RELATED TO OUR INTERESTS
  • DRIVING BY THE GRADE SCHOOL TO SEE IF WE HAD OUR COATS ON
  • HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION TRIP TO CALIFORNIA
  • WAVING GOODBYE TO FROM MCLEAN COUNTY BANK WINDOW
  • WE DUST…YOU CHECK…WE DUST
  • IRONING OUR WORKOUT T-SHIRTS THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL
  • TAKING CARE OF GRANNY
  • NEVER (WELL ALMOST NEVER) ASKING TOO MANY PERSONAL QUESTIONS
  • SENDING LITTLE NOTES OF SUPPORT ON SPECIAL OCCASIONS
  • ALWAYS KNOWING THAT IF WE NEED ANYTHING, WE CAN ALWAYS COUNT ON YOU

My sister and I hope we inspire you
to write a thank-you note to your parents. 

From: wishesmsg.com

Once Learned, Never Forgotten

Our identity development occurs many ways and is an ongoing, lifetime process.  Family culture (norms, values, and beliefs) is part of identity development.  Traditions are how family culture materializes.  Sharing and learning about stories, knowledge, and crafts is often how families pass down the traditions of their history. This sharing creates unity and a sense of belonging resulting in the link between generations.

My friend Polly publishes a blog, Phrog and Munkey.  Her recent blog post, “The Benefits of Crocheting” shares a family story tying directly to Blooms to Blossoms purpose to show that integrating life and learningmakes a difference in personal development. “Crocheting has been a part of my life since I can remember, and it remains something that brings me joy.  My grandmother, my mother, myself, and my children (son included) all crochet.” Companionship, stress relief, creativity, self-esteem are benefits Polly identifies in her story.  I share her blog (with her permission) to encourage you to recognize and remember how generations of family members cross the boundaries of life and learning.

At the heart of every family tradition is
a meaningful experience.  Unknown

The Benefits of Crocheting

As a young girl I wanted to learn how to crochet and I asked my grandmother to teach me.  I was left-handed she was right-handed, we sat facing each other her slowly crocheting and explaining, me listening and trying to mimic her movement.  As she was talking, she began to crochet faster but I was still struggling.  She was right-handed, I was left.  It was like looking into a mirror and trying to copy her process, backward.  Do you remember the Groucho Marx and Lucy routine where she is trying to mimic his movement as if she was in front of a mirror?  This must have looked similar.  I was left-handed, she was right.  This went on for some time her saying “put your needle into the stitch, loop over and pull it back through…” and me trying but failing.  After some time her patience ran thin and she took the needle out of my left hand, remember, I was left handed, and put it in my right, moved around behind me, took my hands in hers and taught me how to crochet.  She loved to crochet and some of the pieces she made were intricate and beautiful.  Some were a little questionable like the bathing suits she made us one summer.  I remember her, her patience, and her artistry every time I pick up a crochet needle. 

This leads me to the first and most important benefit of crocheting, sharing, companionship and time spent with friends, old or new.  Learning to crochet is a challenging process that is tough to teach yourself, so you need a mentor, a friend, a teacher to show you how it is done.  Someone to take your hands in theirs and walk you through the process of weaving yarn together to make something beautiful.

Crocheting relieves stress and anxiety.  Well, maybe not when you are learning how but once you have the automated movements don and your process is instinctual, it is comforting to sit and create.  It is the creativity and repetitive motion that helps you become more relaxed and ease the tension in your thoughts.  

Crocheting builds your self-esteem.  Anyone that is a master crocheter will tell you how fulfilling it is to be able to read a pattern, pick up a needle and some thread and make something that someone is going to love.  When you put that last stitch in and tie your piece off you feel amazing, accomplished and astounded at the sheer process, your ability and the craftsmanship of your work of art.  If that doesn’t build your self-esteem, I don’t know what will.  

Crocheting has been a part of my life since I can remember, and it remains something that brings me joy.  My grandmother, my mother, myself, and my children (son included) all crochet.  One of my fondest memories of my grandmother was placing an afghan that I had made on her lap.  I went to see her one evening at the assisted living home and started to push her down the hall and the afghan on her lap was too long.  She fussed and told me that I needed to make her a short afghan so it wouldn’t get caught under the wheels.  I left there, went straight to the store, bought some yarn, and proceeded to crochet.  When I placed the afghan on her lap she said, “I taught you well.”   That was her way of telling me she was proud of me, that she loved me and thank you all at the same time.  

Stitches bind us together.  

Polly’s afghan

It is interesting how the hobby of crocheting can affect so many lives?

Consider your past, present, and vision for your future as you reflect on ways to thrive and blossom.

Consider your past, present, and vision for your future as you reflect on ways to thrive and blossom.

Consider ways your experiences transfer knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, and beliefs from one aspect of your life to another.

How do the pieces fit together to make a whole?

“Traditions touch us,
they connect us, and
they expand us.”  Craig

Phrog and Munkey Enterprises…products are constructed with as much reclaimed wood as possible which allows us the opportunity to protect a small part of the amazing planet we live on. 

More blogs from Polly:

An Old Tractor and a Good Book

A Rooster, a Song and Laughing Out Loud

A Peek Into My World

Well, it’s been an interesting past week or so. I am actually someone who likes to stay at home however it has been a bit challenging when the decisions to stay at home is not solely my own. Friday I saw a CNN article published as part of the Wisdom Project by Allan titled, Inspirational Quotes to Get Us Through the Coronavirus Shutdown that I thought might be supportive.

Since I’ve been home (more than usual) the inspiration for my blog comes from taking a look around my office. I wanted to share a few items that surround my work space to encourage and motivate me.

My office is in the front of the house with a nice view of the yard.

A few books I keep:

Body and Soul: A novel about the development of a young musician

Grand Obsession: Chronicles one woman’s search for the perfect piano. 

Joy of Movement: How exercise helps us find happiness, hope, connection, and courage

Life as Sport: What top athletes can teach you about how to win in life

Music Matters: Perspectives on nature & significance of music teaching & learing

The Musician’s Way: A guide to practice, performance, and wellness

Reminder that all is well:

These angels have been in our family for over 75 years. They are now in my office surrounding the serenity prayer that used to be on my grandma’s dresser. If Granny had a motto this was it…sure is applicable today.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

Various knick-knacks from my grandparents

Family knick-knacks:

The Snow White canister and Girls in the Rain music box belonged to my paternal grandma.

The two music boxes in the second picture belonged to my maternal grandma.

Both are with my baby cup and spoons.

Family heirlooms:

The bookcase belong to Buddy and Granny. I’ve had this bookcase for 35 years. The glass on the bottom left is cracked from a move. The movers offered to get the glass replaced. I said “no, I need the original glass because this bookcase is from my family.” I recently moved the bookcase into my office. The only items in it right now are the manger scene that was displayed at Buddy and Granny’s house that I keep out year-round. I also have my baby shoes and blanket…I guess these were my first running shoes!!

Fit for Life:

A few key reminders of my athletic life to keep me motivated. The trophy on the right is from my first road race after my college career ended. State cross country championship medal hanging on the runner’s foot. The award on the left is for a runner of the year award (back in my prime). I participated in a weekly bicycle time trial and won best senior women award. The frame picture is from my sister and brother-in-law after my bike accident (October 13, 1997)…it says “Watch out for cars”. They gave me this picture after they found out I was ok….the humor was appreciated.

Family rock project:

My sister and I went to a festival with my parents several years ago. One of the vendor sold rocks with names. I bought one for Eric and me. We had our first two cats at the time so I ordered their rocks from the vendor to add to the collection. I have been buying a rock for each cat…the plate is full…I guess Buddy will be our last cat!!

May the memory of our friends
remain with us forever.

Einstein and Reggie:

Einstein (10/21/01-10/9/14) and Reggie (10/21/01-2/1/19) are brother and sister pixie bob cats and were our first two cats.  

Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.  **Anatole France

Eric and Me:

The person who tries to live alone will not succeed as a human being.
His heart withers if it does not answer another heart.
His mind shrinks away if he hears only the echoes of his own thoughts and finds no inspiration.
–Pearl S. Buck

The eagle on the right I found as I walked in the entrance of the building for my first full-time job (30+years ago). When I met Eric (20 years ago) he had an eagle in his house. The eagles have been together ever since.

17 Words That Will Never Fail You 
  
Prepare…Listen…Smile…Care…Choose…Focus…
Believe…Relax…Act…Forgive…Pray…Trust…
Change…Persist…Accept…Risk…Wait

Women’s History Month: Granny + Mom = Me

Last week I shared some stories about “Granny”…she was influential to my mom, my aunt, and me.  She embodied the ideals of Blooms to Blossoms.

Wellness…using a practical approach to living a balanced life 
Lifelong Learning…using a simple strategy to use resources available to you to better yourself
Personal Development…using a teachable moment to provide lessons learned

Granny was sharing the values she believed and lived by passing them on through her actions.   These beliefs and actions are the roots (support) to develop our family branches (my mom, aunt, others, and me).  Through the generational care and continuation of these beliefs Granny started the cultivation of the shoots and buds that would extend our family tree.

NOTE: Source for pic unknown

My mom is efficient, organized, and diligent.  She is loving, caring, supportive, and always focused on helping me become a better me.

Her motto when I was growing up was “I’m hard on you because I want better for you.”

Her motto now is “laugh and make memories.”

My accomplishments make her proud. I never doubted that I could achieve any of my goals with a good plan and some effort.

Corso (2020) writing about Women’s History Month

To be told we “do something like a girl” is a compliment. I would hope I am as brave as a girl, I hope I am as resilient as a girl, I hope I am as powerful as a girl, and I am proud to be a girl.

National Women’s History month is where we appreciate being told we “throw like a girl” and we “run like a girl.” If we are throwing like a girl, we are throwing as hard as we can, and if we are running like a girl, we are running as fast as we can.

Doing something like a girl is a compliment; being a girl or woman during March is especially superior because we have a month dedicated to our strength and our bravery.

I mentioned in a prior blog a memory book my sister and I created for our parents.  Below are some of the memories of mom.

Memories of Mom

Memories of Mom (some of the 70 memories from the book with current thought)

**Trick or treat for Unicef
(I did not fully understand the purpose at the time as much as I do now)

**Documenting my graduate school debt (loan) to assure complete payment
(I learned the value of money and the responsibility for paying a debt)

**Popcorn for Elaine’s trips home after a visit
(Mom always provided snacks when I drove home after visiting…I was also told to keep both hands on the wheel while driving!!   Hmmmm?!?!?!)

**Ironing our workout t-shirts until we graduated high school
(Needless to say, I do not iron my workout t-shirts now but I do appreciate her effort)

**New running shoes for every birthday and Christmas
(Best gift ever…still)

**Letting me have time to run before going out for the day
(Best gift ever…still)

**Making me take piano lessons so Granny would give the piano to mom
(Still playing…both of us)

**Never (well almost never) asking too many personal questions
(Mmmmmoooooommmm, really???)

**Constantly beating me a scrabble
(I cheat and still lose…but it’s fun)

**Taking care of Granny
(“One person caring about another represents life’s greatest value.” -Rohan)

Granny and Mom were & are key in making me who I am.

They have & do encourage me.
They have been & are there for me when it matters the most.
They have & do inspire me to make my own history.

Thanks to my Granny and my Mom my motto is:

I do the very best I know how.
The very best I can and
I mean to keep doing it until the end.

“Learn from the people who have walked before you.
Respect them, because someday, and
sooner than you could ever imagine,
you are going to be old too.”  Unknown

Women’s History Month: Granny…Becoming Part of the Family

March is Women’s History Month.  The Nation honors the contributions of notable women throughout history.  These women helped girls (including me) to aspire to be a changemaker; to be strong and independent.  I am a benefactor of the resilience and willpower of the phenomenal women of our history.  The results of their efforts affected the history and progress of our country/society.  While we praise these women for their work, when I think of women in history and the direct influence on my life, I think of someone who is not known to my readers.  With assistance from my mom and my aunt, I thought I would share some tidbits about a woman that impacted our lives…Granny.  

About Granny

Granny was a little lady, only 5’2” with physical strength that would amaze many.  She had an 8th grade education but loved to read and made good use of the dictionary.  She could complete the hardest crossword puzzles.

Granny had 3 brothers and a sister and often acted as parent to her younger brother and sister. With Granny being the oldest girl, she went to work after completing the 8th grade.  She worked in a shoe factory at two locations and for a time she was working near a deli-restaurant of her grandparents.  During that time, she would leave the factory at lunch break and go to the restaurant to help her grandparents with their lunch crowd. Then back to the factory to finish the day.  

For the 40-50 years mom lived in our house, I never remember her replacing any plants. We had 4o’clocks, petunias, a peony bush, and irises. Every year in the spring mom would thin the petunias etc. and somehow through drought or rainy seasons or hard winters the plants always made it.   

Granny and Helping Others

If neighbors were sick or living alone, Granny would make a big pot of soup and food to share. She would even remember foods neighbors enjoyed.  One neighbor liked Granny’s mashed potatoes (condensed milk and lots of butter).  A nephew from time to time lived with his grandparents next door would come to our house and share in the desserts.  

When her sister’s husband was out of work, they would come help Granny with household projects and chores so they would have some money coming in.  If she had more of something, she would be sure to share.  

Granny was known for her $20’s.  If she wanted to treat us to eating out, she would always say, “I’ve got $20’s.”

As like most people at that time in our area, we hoped the peony’s and irises would be in peak condition for decorating the graves on Memorial Day. 

Granny and Patriotism

Her grandfather, who had immigrated from Germany, said if you live in America you should speak English and honor America.  His brother, who immigrated here also, complained about things here, so he told his brother he should go back to Germany. She would have a tough time accepting people who did not respect the flag.  I remember taking her to a parade when she was in her 90s.  She instructed me to stand, which I would do, when the Veterans came by and she waved her little flag with tears in her eyes.  

Granny and Wellness

She believed that doing a good job cleaning house was not an eye level job.  She would say bend down to clean baseboards and stretch to clean over the doors and you will not need to go to a gym.

She was not in favor of diets to lose weight.  When she felt her clothes might be a little tight…”eat an apple during the day and then eat healthy meals, but smaller amounts.”

Granny was walking trails with us when she was in her mid 80s.  We would meet people who would tell us the trail would be too hard for Granny, but she walked them anyway. Her grandmother had told her to always stretch before she got out of bed.  Granny did that every day, and she was agile all her life.

Granny and Lessons Learned

She told us many times, when we were kids, “you’re as good as anyone – but you’re no better.”

She did not believe in tattling and would tell us to find something else to do.

If you were bored she would say “go outside, lay down on the grass and see what you can see in the clouds.”  

One time a friend was angry with me and came to tell Mom what a bad person I was.   Mom was standing at the ironing board and the friend was on the outside of a screen door when Mom said she should go on home, then told me to close the door.  In most cases, Mom expected us to take care of things ourselves and if we could not get along, then her only interference was ‘you come in the house and see if you can find something to do’.   

I along with two other girls, gave our Sunday School teacher a bit of a bad time asking questions.  I came home and guilt set in, and especially because the teacher was my godmother.  I told Granny, I did not think I was nice to Mae today…Granny said, “Don’t tell me about it, get across the alley and go tell Mae.”  Her way of teaching us to accept responsibility for our actions.

Granny and Church

Granny attended the Lutheran Church in her youth and later became a Methodist.  Her children grew up when attendance was rewarded by a pin.  You just did not question whether you would go to church – that is what happened on Sunday, sometimes Wednesday night services and revivals. Granny said,  “you go to church to worship, it’s God’s house and if you look nice when you go out on Saturday night…you need to look as good or better on Sunday morning.”   

For years, Granny had a major part in the Christmas play. She studied her part while ironing or in bed with a flashlight.  She was a member of the Methodist Women’s Missionary Group and helped with Bible School.  She actively took part in church dinners and socials. Today, as I read my Bible, I can hear some of what Granny said as I was growing up.  She did not preach it was simple instruction such as, “Don’t test God.”

Granny and Music

One year when we were at the church and had finished practicing for a Christmas program, the adults were still there talking. I went to the piano and was quietly sounding the keys.  One lady told mom I should not be doing that. Mom could see from the way I was “playing” that I might have some talent (and I think she did not like the lady telling her I could not touch the piano). Shortly after we got a piano and we got to take lessons.  While I never became a real pianist, I have always enjoyed playing, and it is a way, happy, sad or whatever, to work out my emotions. 

Granny and Growing Up

About age 12, Granny let us know that we truly were part of the family.  We were responsible for chores that she gave the ‘white glove’ inspection.  You did a good job – or you could start all over – if you missed something there was probably more that was not done.  No, we did not get an allowance – we were part of the family. 

Granny’s Motto

Influencers Help You Find Your Best Life

It is interesting, the tidbits of information you find out about your parents when they move close to you as they get older. I went to visit my parents this morning and came home with a briefcase full of reading materials my Dad has saved over the years. The materials in the briefcase were items from the last 3 decades. He told me to take it home… “there might be inspirations for your writing”. Knowing my Dad, I knew there is some good “stuff” to share.  

Typical to my personality, I had to first sort through the materials.  I gathered items based on topic and then had to put everything in order by month and year.  

NOTE:  Those who know me would say “well, of course, that was your first step.”

Anyway, after sorting, I skimmed through the items.  Yep, some good stuff for sure!

The most interesting aspect as I skimmed the items was that there were several places Dad marked with arrows or starred or used a paper clip. He also makes notes on the back cover with a page number and someone’s name who he feels would benefit from the passage or story. This is what my Dad has always done to keep track of the most meaningful passages.  I believe it is also his way of creating teachable moments…as I look through the materials now I recall many times over the years that Dad has taught me lessons of life, common sense, and responsibility from what he’s read.  I now see his intent was to help me become the best I could be and to do good for others.  He is showing me how to “Let My Life Sing.”

Below, I share some of the items I pulled from the briefcase today.  These items support the idea of seeing the big picture, thinking about the future, and how to succeed in life. While keeping the big picture in mind, the story told by these snippets also share the idea of learning from mistakes/failures, live for today, and hold the course to future dreams. 

Live to Influence Others is chapter 4 in Lessons My Father Taught Me (2016) by Michael Reagan.  Reagan states, “influence is something that you understand and appreciate better after you gain life experience, wisdom, and perspective.”  I believe we can all agree that life experience, wisdom, and perspective allow us to see the value in the thoughts of those influential in our lives.  Reagan went on the name key aspects of an “influencer” and these all are characteristics that could describe my Dad.  An influencer in your life…

**makes an investment of time to help and teach others
**provides direct and indirect guidance
**knows his audience
**knows what he believes in and why he believes it
**uses the events of the day as object lessons
**looks for opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others
**is a storyteller

Who have been/are influencers in your life?  Do the characteristics listed above apply?

Who are you hoping to influence?  Do the characteristics listed above apply?

What I Learned From Dad’s First Job

A few weeks ago, I wrote a couple blogs on Keepsakes and Sharing Stories.  These blogs intended to relate and connect to the idea of keeping memories alive.  I often listen to NPR and especially like Story Corps episodes.  While listening to a couple podcasts this week, I realized that I did not know the story behind several of my keepsakes.  In my Keepsakes blog I shared a picture of the truck my Dad used for his first business.  I stated:

I have a replica of a 1948 F1 Green Ford pick-up in my office. The significance is my Dad started his first business using that truck. He believes “we are all made up of potentials which can grow to be actuals” so that’s what I believe!!


So now I was wondering, what IS the “story” of this truck and Dad’s first business.  All I knew was Dad loves trucks and he had a hauling business.  I had no “story”.

NPR describes Story Corps as:  

Stories of the human heart. A candid, unscripted conversation between two people about what’s really important in life: love, loss, family, friendship. When the world seems out of hand, tune in to StoryCorps and be reminded of the things that matter most.  

SHARING AND PRESERVING THE STORIES OF OUR LIVES

I knew the truck, and the business was important to Dad.  I wanted to preserve this story.  I interviewed my Dad to find out more.  Below is the story.

Dad, I have a replica of the 1948 green Ford F1 truck in my office.  You gave it to me many years ago as an incentive to work hard and achieve my goals.  I know the truck represents your first job.  I do not know the details of the job so let’s discuss it a bit. 

What was your first job and why the 1948 Ford F1?

As a lover of trucks AND a devout believer in the free enterprise system I stepped out on faith and traded my 1931 Model A Ford Coupe for the truck and started a hauling business.  At the time of purchase, in 1954, I had no idea that this truck was the first of a series for Ford that is known today as the F150 and the most popular seller worldwide for over 60 years.  

Tell me more about the truck.

As I relive those days and think about the truck’s overall appearance most folks would towed it to the scrap heap rather than overhaul it.  The seat had springs popping through the seat covers, floor mats in pieces, exterior dents, tears, and blemished finish.  It was not much to look at.  Within the first week I needed to replace transmission.  I had already obligated myself to a credit of $200 in trade for repairs.  I was at wits end about what to do next.  I made a call to the dealer and he settled by problem by sending a wrecker to tow the truck and repair it at no cost.

Why did you want to start the hauling business?

My part-time work at the service station was not steady enough but it was a good fill-in.  I had the truck payment, I helped out at home including a new washing machine, and managed to buy 8 acres of wooded land in the city limits. Age and experience at age 15 and up kept me from my most desired work with trucks but the ol’ F1 gave me a start toward being a real trucker.  My high school time was 100 percent daytime – no sports.  The only night activity was Wednesday night prayer meeting.  My nights were school assignments, paperwork for business and calls for hauling work.  There was no TV and only one radio and it was in the kitchen for mealtime.  Usually there was livestock duties also.  My coal/wood customers were also customers whose cinders and trash were done by the F1.

You were in high school when you started the business, right? How did you manage school and work?

Yes, I was in high school when I started the hauling business.  My high school time was 100 percent daytime – no sports.  The only night activity was Wednesday night prayer meeting.  My nights were school assignments, paperwork for business, some livestock duties and calls for hauling work.  There was no TV and only one radio and it was in the kitchen for mealtime.  

Timing during my school week was most critical since I had 1½ hours to make two coal pickups before the mine closed.  As I exited the school bus and headed to my truck, I started unlacing my white bucks and coat.  Then changed clothes, as I drove, to combat boots and a work coat.  A very patient and proud mother, who always stressed free enterprise, was eager to daily wash those coal-dirty clothes for her businessman son to use the next day.  Food never tasted so good as we sat at mom’s table after a rail yard coal pickup.  Dad often helped on weekends when the work was most labor intensive. 

Tell me more about the business.  What services did the hauling business do for your community?

***My first job was to pick up a load of wood scraps for grandma’s two wood stoves at a sawmill 15 miles away.  That round trip was full of doubts, fears, and apprehension. I had become a businessman.  From this first load forward, I was able to make truck payments and satisfy my personal needs for high school.  

***My hauling included loads of trash, cinders, scrap wood products, coal, and pickup /delivery services.  The only mechanical loading into my truck was from coal mine chutes. This meant I had to unload the coal by shovel.  Hauling many loads of wood meant piece by piece throwing wood in and out of the truck. It was time consuming and exercise intensive, indeed.  

***The coal hauling for our household and my grandparents was a much different exercise.  That coal, free for pickup, had fallen off the railcars. I loaded up in pieces by hand and placed into 5-gallon buckets. Then carried to the truck out along the road.  The rougher the engineer treated the cars, the more I cheered him on as my payload increased….more coal fell off the train and was free if I was willing to put in the work to gather it up.  It was like finding black gold. 

In what ways did the business grow or expand through the years?

While still in high school, business was successful in a big way with the F1.  So much so I bought a second truck.  A 1953 Dodge pickup (Heavy Duty) and with a fluid drive transmission.  The Dodge had been “run hard and put away we” in southern Illinois terms.  A cattle dealer hauled huge animals and bent the bed of the truck, the rear fenders were loose, but the paint was shiny and the “job rated” emblem on the grill was pristine.  From a distance this truck looked too modern for a kid whose household had never had a family auto and few modern conveniences.  

I will never forget a fellow student telling me I could never pay for that thing and go to school.  

To the surprise of my classmate and others, business got even better.  To everyone’s surprise my competitor, with a big, black, shiny Ford dump truck, even turned his truck over to me for big loads and busy schedules.  

Why did the business close and what were some of the outcomes?

During the years of my hauling company I kept my school grades up and both trucks going.  I even filled in at the local service station on weekends.  Much to my surprise in July 1956 I received a 4-year full scholarship to college.  It was most unexpected.  Mom was disappointed when I phased out the business.  She had dreamed of the day of many more trucks and endless opportunities for my business.  Sometimes I wish I had followed mom’s advice.  I loved that business too.

How did this work and having your own business make you feel?  What are your thoughts about how this first business helped you with your future career path?

Any businessman could not have been prouder than I was during those days. It was amazing what determination and obligation did for me.  I always said, “We are all made up of potentials which get to be actuals under the stress of circumstance.”  I have never believed in luck – through faith we meet opportunities and combine them with work and realize results that some may call “luck”.

This country affords many opportunities for those with faith, willingness to labor, and some management abilities.  There are endless opportunities.  

I learned from this story that success does not happen overnight. If you work hard, it would eventually pay off. I am not dreaming big enough if I can achieve my goal overnight. Each day is an opportunity to do better, be better, be useful, and enjoy life…each day is an opportunity to “learn as you go”.  This learning is not just intellectual improvement.  This learning is social, emotional, spiritual, physical, and motivational. At the end of the day you are stronger, wiser, and happier.

Stories can translate to a sense of identity and well-being…do you have a story to share OR a partial story you might want to explore?