THE BEST ADVICE DAD EVER GAVE ME
After a bit over a year in college, it became painfully clear that college wasn't going to work for me. It might be more correct to say I wasn't going to work for college, but either way, I decided college wasn't for me.
When I announced my intention to withdraw from Butler University, in Indianapolis, Dad asked me what I was going to do. I told him I guess I'd find a job. That's when he laid the line, shown above, on me.
That was late in 1957, and in a stunning display of my good timing, that was also a time of recession in our economy. I got a job working as an apprentice in a Body Shop, but the recession caught up with that. Then a short time working for another car dealer, and the recession struck again.
The following week, the first week in April, 1958, we'd been planning on going to Florida. When I told Dad on Friday night that Northside Chevrolet had shown me the door, he asked what I was going to, and I said I'd find another job when we got back from Florida. He said, then, something like this: "Wrong ... vacations are for people with jobs, which you don't have. We'll see you in a week."
Then he gave me the advice, the importance of which I couldn't have comprehended at that time:
When I retired February 1, 2008, we had a "retirement dinner" for our family and a couple friends. There, Peg gave me a scrapbook covering my career, and this was the first picture in it.
Thanks, Peg, for the memories ... and I met her and married her at that first mailboys job ... and thanks, Dad, for the advice. And thanks, God, for making it all happen.
PS: There's a p.s. of note. When I got to Wabash the first day, I found out the other mailboy ... one did the 7 a.m. incoming mail run and distribution, the other did the 5 p.m. outgoing mail run to the downtown Post Office ... was a guy named Bill, a good friend of mine from high school. After a few months there, he came in and gave his week's notice, saying he had gotten a job as a lathe operator at a local manufacturer. He mentioned they needed more people, and the pay was about double what we made as mailboys. I declined, again thinking of career.
Jump ahead to June 1975 ... 17 years later. I had gone from the mail room to the accounting department, and then after another year had gone to Statesman Insurance Co. as a trainee. After becoming an Underwriter, I went to Indiana Insurance Co. for 18 months and then back to Statesman as a supervisor. Each of those jobs gave me more diversity and depth of experience. From there I spent 5 years working in a local insurance agency in Indy, and was then hired by Associated Insurance Managers to manage 3 agencies in Muncie, Eaton and Dunkirk, Indiana.
Then in June 1975 I was hired by Ken Williams at MMI in Pelham, as VP of Agencies and Program Sponsors, which is what got me to traveling nationwide.
On the last weekend before we moved to Birmingham, we went a function at the Indiana State Fair coliseum. We found a place in the crowded stands on one side, and when we got up there, I sat down right next to Bill. The one who'd left Wabash to be a lathe operator. He asked what I had been doing and I updated him on my career, including the job I was heading for 2 days later. I then asked what he was doing. He said he was still operating the same lathe.
That's a fine job, I'm sure. He's probably got a gangbusters retirement. But in that moment, I went back to that day in 1958 when Dad gave me that little bit of advice. And thanked him again.