My Dad and me at Norris Lake, Tennessee, the summer of 1948.
MEMORIES OF MY DAD
Some of my fondest memories are of my Dad. Although he never went to college or garnered degrees of any kind, he was one of the smartest men I’ve ever known. Here are some things I remember.
Some Things My Father Never Did
1. He never took me to school or picked me up… not one time. He believed that riding the school bus helped me become more responsible. You had to make sure you were up in time to catch the bus and you had to be careful not to miss it after school – it was a long walk home. Riding the school bus is a good venue for learning to get along with people and dealing with situations that arise.
2. He never met with one of my teachers or “gave them a piece of his mind.” He never talked about my teachers in front of me or took my side against a teacher. If there was a problem, I think he rightly suspected he might find the root of the problem a little closer to home.
3. He may have put me at the sink washing dishes or behind a lawn mower… but he never put me in time out. He was a lot smarter than that.
4. He never got me out of trouble or solved problems for me that I created for myself. He may have made suggestions, but he made me handle it personally. That “actions/consequences” mentality lays the groundwork for developing experiential judgment that comes in handy later on in life.
5. He never “counted to ten.” He said it once, and I knew he meant it.
6. He never stayed “mad” at me for more than 30 minutes. We solved the problem, got over it and were back on good terms in no time.
7. He never let the tail wag the dog.
8. He never told me he loved me, and I never thought he needed to. There was just never any doubt in my mind. Actions say a lot more than words.
My Dad(at age 90) and me in Lynnville, Tennessee, Spring of 2007. Lester Littleton (1915-2009)
Some Things My Father Always Did
1. He always encouraged me. If I had an idea and it was moral and legal, he would stand behind me and encourage me all the way. And, if it didn’t work out, he always said, “Well, it was a good education. You now know one more thing that you don’t want to do.”
2. He always taught me to believe in myself. You probably couldn’t do this in this day and age, but when I was 10 years old, he put me on a Greyhound by myself to make the 300-mile trip to visit my Grandmother. I even had to change buses in Nashville. I felt pretty proud of myself and I learned self-reliance.
3. He always had my number from the get-go and was not timid about applying the belt to my rear for lying, showing disrespect, general laziness or for not following the rules. So, it didn’t take me long to put my bad habits behind me. The justice system as administered by Lester Littleton was swift, sure and the perfect preparation for my later experience with Coast Guard Boot Camp.
4. He always taught me to respect my elders and learn from them and to have respect for the past. I’ve built an entire business around that.
5. He always kept me well grounded and tried to point me in the right direction. You can be sure I didn’t approach him when I was 18 about taking a year off to “find myself.”
6. He didn’t give me lots of instructions about what to do and what not to do when I left the house for various activities. He did remind me often to remember who I was and where I came from.
7. He always made me feel important and involved me in things he enjoyed. He created in me a love for pocket knives, automobiles, motorcycles and all things mechanical and helped me develop a natural curiosity about how things work and why.
Here’s wishing you a spectacular Father’s Day with your Dad if you are fortunate enough to have him with you and; if not, happy recollections of him and what he means to you.