My wife and I are grandparent raising three over our grandchildren. The children of my wife’s youngest. We were a Brady Bunch family. Our 1990 marriage united 3 kids from her previous marriage and 2 kids from my previous marriage.
The other day I overheard a conversation between our 18 year old grandson (still living at home) and my wife. To be honest I can’t remember the context of their conversation because I really wasn’t paying close attention. As a part of that conversation I heard my wife say something along the lines that the 18 year old would appreciate possessions he would have earned more than a hand out. This is the point my ears began to pay attention awaiting his response.
He responded (to my best recollection), “Grandma, I don’t believe that is true because I appreciate what is given to me more than what I pay for.”
I shook my head in silent sadness. His response means I failed him as he is about to embark on adulthood.
Justin Smith submission on his Baby-Boomer experience evoked the sad recent memory with my grandson and also took me back to my own Baby-Boomer youth where most Americans of that era also learned a good American work ethic. I won’t go into mine. Definitely if you are a Baby-Boomer, you appreciate Justin’s memory. If you are a post-Baby-Boomer generation you should read and comprehend the value of a good work ethic.
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Memories of My America
Farmer, his John Deere & his Dog
By Justin O. Smith
Sent 7/3/2020 2:40 PM
I spent so many great days, from my early childhood on, roaming farmlands with my loyal dog, Otto, playing with the farm animals and learning to appreciate all this wonderful world had to offer.
And it wasn’t all play, either.
My father was posted for a couple of years at Ft Leonard Wood in Missouri, and he found us a nice little house way out in what many would call the “boonies” far from the fort, in the town of Dixon. But it was heaven for a young boy with his head filled with thoughts of adventure, who was already well-versed in Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer.
Outside of my own chores at home, in the summers, as young boys were want to do, I sought to make a dollar or two in order to gain my own spending money, for family outings and such. I mowed yards and just the usual grunt work that some of the older neighbors couldn’t do any longer.
Early the first summer, I met an elderly couple that lived on the far edge of town. I was about twelve at the time, and the old couple, who I simply knew as Mr. and Mrs. Whittaker, looked ancient to me. I was soon to discover that they were 96 and 97 at the time. I enjoyed stopping by in the hot Missouri afternoons whenever I’d see them out, Mrs. Whittaker wearing her wide-brimmed straw hat to shade from what were some days unbearably hot days indeed — it was actually unseasonably hot that year. And yet, each day they’d be out in their “garden” working.
It wasn’t long before I became a constant at their small spread, doing whatever they needed, just because I knew they needed the help, never asking for pay.
That last summer, I was about three months into my 13th year on this earth and Mr. Whittaker said he had need of me. He guided me to an old plow and asked me if I knew how to use one. I told him I had often weeded my GranMa Ila’s garden with a hoe, but had never used a plow, although I was familiar with how the process went. He continued, allowing that it was simple enough, demonstrating for a few minutes.
It wasn’t a horse-drawn plow. It was a plow with a wheel on the front and designed to be used by people too poor to afford a horse, back when people still used horses to run their furrows. He just wanted me to run the furrows between his corn rows to take out the weeds and carry buckets of water to irrigate the corn … three acres of corn. For a dollar an hour, which sounded like a lot of money to a 13 year old in 1970, until my hands hit the handles and I struggled to churn the sunbaked hardened Missouri soil.
I instantly wondered if I hadn’t bit off more than I could chew, but being my father’s son, the son of a man who despised quitters almost as much as cowards, I ducked my head and plowed on, turning the soil and then going back and watering the corn when the rains were sparse, using a short water hose for the closest rows and buckets for the rest …. back and forth … and back and forth. Three acres may not sound like much, but it seemed like a hundred to me, by the time it came to harvest the corn.
I had to return to school before harvest time, but some of their kin came by to shuck and bundle the corn, that September.
It was hard work seeing how it was all done by hand, but these were people used to doing EVERYTHING by hand, and that experience taught me a great lesson. I was never so proud as to have been given the responsibility of caring for their corn, to be trusted to do what was asked of me. My own parents had me well on my way towards a great work ethic before that summer, but that experience made me appreciate a job well done and helping others.
I celebrated their 97th and 98th birthdays with them, and then we were off to another post, and back home to Tennessee.
A few years later, at eighteen, I spent the summer harvesting winter wheat, in Springfield, Colorado, while visiting my little GranMa Mamie, learning to drive a fancy, 12-gear Case tractor. Another cherished memory.
I only tell You of this as I am getting some age on me now, and I tend to find myself reminiscing of days gone by, as I see so many aimless, lazy, unproductive children scattered all about our society, in virtually any place one cares to mention. So many never so much as set foot from their house, unless it’s for some mindless pursuit, and the remainder of their time is spent glued to some online game.
I look at them and I can’t picture a one of them willing to help their fellow neighbor, much less working day in day out for hours upon hours to bring in a crop of any sort. I look at them on the whole and it puts fear in me for this nation, especially as we see what so many have become in their young adult years, as those who succumbed to the indoctrination and propaganda in the streets have become the nation’s destroyers.
Never was there any more truth set forth for all men to pay heed and take notice of than those of Proverbs 16: 27-29:
“Idle hands are the devil’s workshop; idle lips are his mouthpiece.[a]
An evil man sows strife; gossip separates the best of friends.
Wickedness loves company—and leads others into sin.”
American families aren’t doing their children any real favors by coddling them and allowing them to lay about for too many days on end, without something constructive put in front of them to pursue. They should be given the comforts of a good home and all that comes with it, but so too must they be taught from an early age the value of good honest work, a good day’s labor for a good day’s pay and the sense of pride that one achieves from seeing a job well done, a job they completed on their own.
We’ve advanced beyond our wildest imagination in areas of technology, but not so much in the social graces and just being good people. If anything, our society has been driven backwards with the constant attacks on God and Family that those callous anti-American interlopers and the hate-America first crowd have mounted on this country I love so well, time and again, from the early 1900s to the present. We can do better, but not with another ideology and its supporters doing everything within their power to end traditional America, all in the name of getting something for nothing, as though they are owed a living from the sweat of someone else’s brow, just by their mere existence.
I miss the America I grew up knowing and loving.
By Justin O. Smith
Edited by John R. Houk
© Justin O. Smith