My Dad



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dad.jpg (31115 bytes)    Dad loved to confound salesmen. When he owned his photo-finishing shop on Indiana Avenue in Wichita Falls, TX, about 1950, he would often be interrupted at work by salesmen. In those days, salespeople went door to door peddling their products. One day, a guy came in promoting cigarettes. My Dad, bless him, had been a cigarette smoker since age 21. Smoking clogged his arteries and led to two strokes, the second of which killed him at age 71. So for 50 years, Dad enjoyed cigarettes. He thought they were harmless! Anyway, the guy came in wanting him to test Chesterfields. Dad was an inverterate Old Golds smoker. So here is the peddler talking to Dad:

          "Sir, I would like for you to compare your brand with Chesterfields today".

"Well, OK," said Dad, stubbing out one of his cigarettes. The guy lit an Old Golds for Dad. Dad breathed in the smoke and exhaled with a big smile on his face. "Boy, now there's a real smoke." The guy cleared his throat and said, "Well, wait till you try our brand, Chesterfields." The guy gave Dad a Chesterfield from a sample pack of 4. He then lit it for him. So Dad took a drag from it and started coughing and wheezing and coughing and wheezing until he was red in the face. I thought he was going to croak right there. This guy was so scared, he grabbed his samples and ran out the door. When he had gone, Dad broke into gales of laughter. A few minutes later, the phone rang, and it was the guy. He was checking to see if Dad was all right. Dad answered the phone and said, "Yes, my son here gave me mouth to mouth resusitation, and I am among the living after inhaling that NASTY cigarette you gave me." The guy promptly hung up.

Dad was a good promoter of his own brands. Maybe he was a little rough on the guy, but he left an impression on me. I don't fall for telemarketers because of Dad's example that day. Dad always made time for my brother and I even though he worked long hours when we were growing up. He worked all day at his business, then "made the soup" at night until past midnight. His love for his business taught us a lesson, too.  He taught us that work was important, that if you enjoyed your work, it wouldn't be work, it would be play. Dad played all the time. Dad was a wonderful singer, but he gave up his career, because he couldn't make a living doing it. He had to make money to support his family. We always appreciated Dad's sacrifices. On weekends, he would take us fishing or into the woods to look at wildlife. Whatever we wanted to do, Dad would go along with us. He didn't get in the way of our play. He let us do what we wanted to do. When my brother and I got older, he could see we weren't interested in his photo-finishing business. It didn't hold a charm for us like it did him. But he didn't push us into the business.  He gave us an experience with menial work to prepare us for whatever we wanted to do.
   He was a tough taskmaster, too, making us do it right. Dad was proud of his two sons, 5 1/2 years apart. My brother became a pharmaceutical salesman and was one of the best Merck ever had. I am sure he learned his work ethic from Dad. I went into journalism and I set an example to my co-workers at every job I ever had. I worked hard and long hours. I didn't get paid too much, but I enjoyed my work, just like Dad had. This was something that he gave to us.