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Character, Honesty and Integrity

May 6, 2009
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1980 Jul

William F.

I took this photo in July 1980. I remember it well because I was taught a huge lesson by my Dad and he never said a word to me about it. Most of the things I learned from my Dad involved few words. We talked freely but children watch what you do more than listen to what you say.

I grew up in eastern Ky and am proud of my roots. My father is not a highly educated man but is the smartest person I know. My parents never owned a credit card until recent years. They never made car payments but owned several. They never made a mortgage payment but have a nice modern home.

The day this photo was taken we were hauling logs to a sawmill. That is a big industry in the Appalachian foothills. Obviously we had a little tire trouble. I was following in a pickup truck and we were on the shoulder of a busy interstate highway. We could not move until we replaced two tires.

We took the pickup and drove back to a local town. We didn't know anyone in this small town but soon found a tire dealer that had the correct tires, the 50 ton jack we needed to jack up the trailer and the air hose to inflate the tires from the truck air brake system after getting the old tires off and the new tires on the steel wheels.

There was only one problem. We were an hour from home, Dad had no credit card, only a few dollars in his wallet and not even a blank check. At that time we called them blank checks because no one had pre printed checks with account numbers. You simply signed a "blank" check and the bank knew you by your signature. Every business in a town had "blank" checks for the local bank.

Obviously the options were limited for getting any help. Then my dad told the owner to call any business in our home town and ask if he could be trusted.

The owner called 2-3 businesses in our hometown and every one said the same thing. "Give that man anything he needs. His character, honesty and integrity are beyond question."

We walked out with two very expensive tires, the hydraulic jack (the owner made sure we got the good one), 50 feet of air hose and were asked if there was anything else we needed. A handshake and a promise to mail a check as soon as we got home sealed the transaction.

We replaced the tires and I returned the jack and air hose in the pickup while my Dad continued on to the sawmill. It was really no big deal. When working with heavy equipment and trucks there is always something like that happening.

But I never forgot that day. I learned a life long lesson without my Dad saying a single word about it. That happened more than once in my childhood.

You may be interested in the next article, Thoughts on Getting Older.

The previous article is Country School Memories From My Teacher.

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