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Lessons learned from Dad have paid off

By Pam Bock

Eureka Columnist

I learned my work ethic from my dad. He has always been a hard worker, and still is at the age of 81.

He grew up in Ethel, Arkansas, in a very small farming community and worked on the farm until he went to work at the grocery store, in Dewitt, Arkansas.

He worked his way up and bought that store from the owner, Mr. Chaney. He named the store “Big D”.  Dad is a very astute businessman. I asked him once why he wanted to work and then own a grocery store, and he replied, “because it was the coolest place we went to during the hot summers, and I thought how nice it would be to work in an air-conditioned place.”

He had Wednesdays and Sundays off.  On Wednesdays he fished in the summer and hunted in the winter. Dad can catch a fish when others can’t!  Sundays would most often find us in Ethel  at Grandma Nellie’s and Grandpa Buddy’s, his parents, for church and dinner at their house.

Other Sundays we went to church at Unity Missionary Baptist, and then had lunch out. He also liked his Sunday afternoon naps. One of my favorite memories, during the “store years,” was when he would bring home styrofoam trays (like the kind butchers use) and the makings for banana splits.

We made monster-sized banana splits and watched TV together.

He also bought a couple of Honda off-road motorcycles, which we rode. We thought we were great riders and worried him endlessly to take us “out in the country” to ride. At first we only rode in the yard, making endless circles around the house. He finally took us, even though he had told us we weren’t ready to ride off-road.

That Sunday afternoon was an adventure. He took us through creeks, briars, brush, thick tree stands and embankments. We survived – scratched up, hot, tired and ready to go home.  We never asked to “go ride” again. That was a lesson learned – listen to good advice!

Dad worked tirelessly and long hours. He didn’t complain, even when his back and neck hurt.  He taught us to always do your best, and that every task is important. That taking out the garbage is needed just like stocking the shelves and giving good friendly customer service.

He also expected us to do everything “right” meaning our best and a complete job – not just enough to get by – the first time asked. And if you saw something needing to be done, then do it. Don’t wait to be asked!

Show up every day, on time, and give a full day’s work for a day’s pay.  Always treat people like you want to be treated.

At the time his strictness and expectations seemed harsh. As an adult I realize just how important those standards were and it was done because he wanted us to be our best, and to succeed at whatever we were doing. Those traits are ingrained in us three girls and have served us well.  We have all had very good jobs because of our skill sets, values and work ethics.

Once dad retired (before retirement age) from the grocery store he began helping out at the campgrounds on the White River Refuge.  He loved it, and it let him be outdoors working.

Eventually, he went to school and completed all the requirements needed to be a federal game officer.  He enjoyed that job – even the nights and weekends that were required – until he retired from that position.

During that time he and mom also bought and renovated (doing most of the work themselves) the gymnasium in St. Charles, Arkansas, just across the pasture from their home, and opened a hunting lodge for duck hunters named Popa Duck Lodge.

They spent many hours cooking, serving and cleaning for many many hunters who are still friends today. They have since sold the lodge, but whatever dad set his mind to do he has excelled at.  He got his pilot’s license and bought an airplane.

He spent many enjoyable hours flying. I have watched him have two very different, but lucrative, careers and marvel at his stamina.

He fishes and gardens these days. He has fruit trees and beautiful flowers. He gave me three peach trees he started from seed, and I love seeing them growing in my yard.

I got my love of gardening from him, and he and I share tips and ideas. He always provides all of us with vegetables and homemade jellies. He also cooks and makes great coconut pies and egg custard, his and my favorite.   

He is my advice giver, life coach and role model. I look up to my dad and strive every day to make him proud of me…and I will always be thankful for him.

Write to Pam Bock at bockpam@yahoo.com.