In our visit today I want to share some things with you that are very special. I want to share with you some things my father taught me. At the time I did not think much about it, but now looking back, I realize what he did for me.
It’s the old story of Dad being an old fogey when I was 15 and how much he had learned when I was 25. My father was considerably older than my mother. As a result, when I was born he had been around several years longer and was wise to the ways of the world. He had made a lot of mistakes but had learned from them.
He told me that he had bought enough whiskey to float a battleship, but when I was born he swore off it, and I never saw him take a drink in the 40-plus years that I knew him. As a result of his influence, I have never taken a drink of any kind of alcohol in my life. To be sure I have done things much worse, but thankfully I have been spared the pain and heartache that comes to so many people in our nation today who live with an alcoholic or who have been impacted in a negative way. I can’t even imagine the pain that comes to so many families who have lost loved ones because of a drunk driver.
A lot of people these days are into genealogy. When my father told me he left Kentucky in 1919, running from the Grand Jury for shooting craps on Sunday, I never had much desire to research the family tree. I was content to let sleeping dogs lie. In his obituary his occupation was listed as farmer and restaurant owner, but earlier in his life he had a most unusual occupation. His nickname was “Cowboy” because he rode a horse out in the country and would buy livestock, mostly cattle. He would drive them to a rail-head, ride with them on the train to the cattle yards in Kansas City, sell them for a profit, and return home. He really taught me something when he told me that occasionally he would run across someone with whom he could not trade. He said, “Don’t make them mad. Just go on down the road and you will find someone you can trade with.”
While I did not realize it at the time, he had a great impact on my value system because he spent many hours telling me what was right and what was wrong. He was not a religious person, never went to church, but he came from an era where a man’s word was his bond and all it took was a handshake to seal the deal. What he taught me back then has stayed with me all these many years. One of the things I learned was to stay away from dishonest and unethical people. I had the opportunity to use this knowledge when I was a printing salesman in downtown Little Rock and later in other areas of life as well. As an outside salesman, in terms of new prospects, you have some discretion as to the people you call on.
As a human being, we are creatures who have feelings. If I made a sales call on someone for the first time who gave me the feeling they were dishonest or unethical, I did not go back and call on them again. Usually their off-color language gave them away. There is an old saying that goes, “Birds of a feather flock together.” This is true. As a general rule we will seek out people, in and outside our work, and especially in our social life, who make us feel comfortable. If we have high standards these are the kinds of people we want to be around.
My dad passed away back in 1978, but he helped me tremendously while he was here. Thanks, Dad, for doing this for me.
Jim Davidson is an author, public speaker, syndicated columnist and Founder of the Bookcase for Every Child project. Since its inception in the Log Cabin Democrat in 1995, Jim’s column has been self-syndicated to over 375 newspapers in 35 states.