Like many others, I have a lot of memories of my father. Many of them deal with his teaching us to work and support ourselves and families.
He once told me about his return from WWII and his issues dealing with coming back. My brother had been born when he was overseas and I was born shortly after he returned from the war. I was born after he returned.
He told me about his early days after his return and my birth. I think he was depressed, maybe post war trauma as they would call it today. Very understandable, I can’t even imagine what they went through. He said he was sitting around the house, (probably feeling sorry for himself) and also going to the pool hall to drink some beer and play cards with his buddies. Just kind of existing.
Then he got up one day and said “this is silly, I have a family to support”! So he got his gas station back and went to work. And did quite well too for living in a small town like Harmony.
I don’t think owning a gas station and oil distribution business was his dream job. Growing up in the depression was hard and people just tried to put food on the table any way they could. I don’t think many even thought of what a dream job would be; their dream was to eat and sleep indoors.
When I was about 15 I was on my way to the golf course when my Dad caught me and said come with me, I have something that needs to be done. He took me to his bulk plant and showed me some weeds growing around the driveway. He handed me a scythe and said “Here, practice your golf swing here”! I didn’t like that too much at the time, nor many of the other things he had me do such as paint, do his books, or other things he would come up with. I did go on to have summer jobs elsewhere, maybe because it can be difficult to work for a father, but I learned to work and enjoyed the benefits of having some cash in my pocket. I paid for a lot of college that way too.
Today it seems to be the “in thing” to find one’s passion and dream job. I think that is fine if you know what your passion is and how to pursue it in a way that you can survive. But I wonder if we have gone overboard with that as it seems a little self-centered for my way of thinking.
I don’t recall my Dad ever complaining about what he was doing nor heard much complaining from other people around town either. They seemed to have fun doing what they were doing because it gave them a way to provide for their families as well as a way to interact with their friends and co-workers. The folks in the gas station enjoyed solving customer’s problems with their autos, same with the mechanics in town too. The store keepers enjoyed selling their wares and the doctors and lawyers also enjoyed their practices. I sensed that my Dad and the others had the passion to do what they could, when and where they could do it. I don’t think they focused on themselves; they focused on providing for their families.
I learned a lot of other things from him too witnessing his successes as well as his mistakes. But learning to work may have been the best lesson of all!
I’m glad I had a Dad who could show me that!