Now that I’ve told you about my old pops, it only seems fair that I share some of the younger chapters of his life.
In recounting some recent incidents about Dad to my daughter Ericka, I mentioned how unbelievably strong-willed, feisty, and stubborn he was. As my daughter Ericka so aptly put it, “it’s no wonder he was still that way now–look how he started out.” Her Great Grandmother, “Nana,” told her that Grandpa Jack was unbelievably incorrigible as a child. Nana tried all manner of punishments and disciplinary tactics in attempt to get him in line. In fact he was so incorrigible that the only workable punishment was tying him to a tree. Tree tying was Nana’s last resort to stop Jack from playing on the railroad tracks. He hated being tied to a tree more than anything.
It wasn’t only his stubborn strong-willed nature that made my dad, Jack, stand apart from others. His shrewd mind developed business acumen at an early age.
In grade school, little Jack sharpened his marble shooting skills by practicing with flinties (a heavier than usual type of marble) every night at home. He was soon beating all the other kids in marble matches and winning all their marbles. In true entrepreneurial spirit, he convinced other kids that the secret to his marble shooting skill lay in the flintie (not mentioning the nightly practice). Having now created a demand for flinties, he bought a bunch of flinties and started selling them at a profit to other kids during recess. Not only that, he also started selling back marbles he‘d won from them in marble shooting matches.
As Jack would outgrow certain toys and lose interest in them, he devised a yearly sale where he’d sell his toys and rake in the profit. He also managed to re-sell my grandfather’s radio several times. The radio found its way back into Jack’s hands prior to the second annual sale. My grandfather, who got a kick out of his son’s business centures, bought it yet another year.
My dad went on to do odd jobs around the neighborhood, and soon his good work had earned him a steady income for a young boy. At one point he was selling wheelbarrows of dirt to neighbor ladies who wanted to make their gardens more fertile. By the time he was 17, he owned two Model A Fords. He chauffeured other students to school charging them a reasonable fee for the ride. Then he sold his cars and bought a truck. Leasing out his truck provided profits that went into his college fund.
He exuded confidence and believed there wasn’t anything he couldn’t do… if he really wanted it. Nana always told Jack he could accomplish whatever goal he set out to achieve. “If you really want it, and you work really hard at it, you can do it.” These words stuck with him throughout his life, reinforcing his confidence and bolstering his motivation.