Google+ Badge

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Rest of the Story

Yesterday I requested that readers share some of their life-defining moments. I am pleased to say that my friend, Dennis Hawkins, felt kind enough to write a recollection of some of his defining moments. Here is a little background on Dennis. He has had 23+ years in military service, and he is Vietnam vet and an electrician. He is fond of John Simon's book, Cowboy Copas and the Golden Age of Country Music, especially since it contains stories about his father and grandfather who lived in Blue Creek, Ohio, where Copas began playing music. Dennis is married to Josie Fagan-Hawkins, a great singer herself. I think you will find Dennis's writing to be not only inspiring, but also touchingly personal. It serves as a testament to his father and his family as well as a tribute to the generosity of a prominent area businessman. Without further ado, here is Dennis sharing a meaningful part of his life. Thank you, Dennis. Many have said of me that they can tell I am retired military. They usually cite that their rationale to that conclusion is based on the fact that I call older men, and some younger men, 'Sir', and that I commonly address ladies by using the word 'Ma'am'. Of course, the military had it's influence on my choice of verbiage. But, if you would, please, permit me 'The Rest Of My Story'. I was not born into a wealthy family. Sometimes, we needed help. Many times during my life, my parents reminded me of the kindness of Mr. Henry Oberling, who was the founder of Oberling Motors, in Portsmouth. Mr. Oberling had hired my father as an auto mechanic. My father did not have proper tools with which to ply his trade. Mr. Oberling loaned my father the money to buy his tools under the condition that he repay Mr. Oberling with payments from his weekly pay. Dad agreed to the arrangement. Shortly before my father passed, I was privileged to witness a conversation between him and one Marty Mounts. The late Marty Mounts was widely acknowledged in the Portsmouth area as one of the finest vehicle mechanics available. Marty explained to Dad that, although he had been in the business all his life, the money just wasn't there. Dad said that he understood. He told Marty of working for Mr. Oberling in the middle 1950's for $19.50 take-home pay for a five-and-one-half-day week. Dad added, "Things were cheaper in the 50's..., but not that much cheaper." Some time later, Dad and I talked, as we worked on the restoration of his beloved Model A Ford, with those tools Mr. Oberling had helped Dad buy, so many years before. I told Dad that Brother Phil and I didn't know we were poor, as we were growing up. Dad responded, "I know that, Denny..., but Mom and I surely did". Dad died on April 30, 2008. Shortly after Dad's death, Mom received a note from Mr. Henry Oberling, II. In his note, Mr. Oberling stated that he was honored to have known my father. He further explained that his father had told him, on several occasions, a story of my father. It seems that Mr. Oberling, Sr. had made the same deal about the purchase of tools with many of his hired mechanics, through his years in the automobile business. In his note, Mr. Oberling, II revealed that my father was one of only two mechanics who had repaid his father for their tools. No, we weren't wealthy, but my father and mother have left me with this, and many other, defining moments. Oh! The 'Sir and Ma'am' thing. We would usually visit family on Sunday's, after church. We would make our rounds in the Wamsley/Blue Creek, Ohio area. Dad and Mom wanted us to know the importance of family; to know who our family was; to respect our family; to appreciate good food, while exhibiting proper manners; and to observe and participate in the family tradition of returning thanks to our Creator for all He had provided, not just on the occasion of the Sunday Dinner meal, but, before the consumption of any meal, no matter how small. On one visit to my great-grandfather Bailey's home, my grandfather addressed me. To his query, I replied, "Yeah.", and went on about my way. Unbeknownst to me, my father was listening. He stopped me, and said, "You say, 'Yes, Sir', to your Grandfather." I didn't. I laughed, instead. Dad took me by the arm, and walked me to the back yard of the house. There, I received a bit of an 'attitude adjustment'. Afterwards, he walked me back to my grandfather, where I was delighted to address him as 'Sir'. My laughter had vanished. As a matter of fact, I couldn't even muster a smile. From that day to this, I have known to respect others by addressing them as 'Sir' or 'Ma'am'. No, we were not wealthy; we were rich. Rich in the, nowadays, too often neglected, common courtesies of days-gone-by. Rich with values. Rich in life's lessons. Rich with life's simple pleasures. That 'Defining Moment' was 'THE DEFINING MOMENT' which reminds me, on every occasion, when I utter the words, 'Sir' of 'Ma'am'. And now, you know..., 'The Rest Of My Story'. By Dennis W. Hawkins
Post a Comment