September 7, 2021

When people talk about being a hard worker I always think of my dad. His whole generation is known for it’s work ethic. My dad was a construction worker and like most of the construction workers of his day he was physically strong and tough. Dad’s hands were big and his fingers thick and stained. He was a sheet metal worker. Sheet metal workers install heating and cooling systems.  They cut and bend sheets of metal into vents, pipes and boxes for the air to flow through. They did that with heavy scissors that could cut through metal and huge pliers to bend and shape powered by strong hands.

Dad was a strong union man. He shared stories of how men working in factories would pee their pants on the line because if they left the line o go to the bathroom they would be fired. Maybe that is where the term “hard labor” came from.  Anytime there were any wage negotiations going on Dad would always tell us…” all we have to sell is our time so we have to get as much as we can for it.”
There was never a job around the house dad could not do. I watched him do plumbing, carpentry, roofing, even rebuild the motor on my car.Dad always went to work and he always came home. When he was home, he was home, he was with us leading the family.

Another hard worker I knew was Jim Lytle. He was our neighbor out in the country as we were growing up. We played and ran the woods with his children Dave, Vicki & Kenney Lytle.  Jim was strong like my dad. He worked for General Motors back when the work was much more physically demanding and much more dangerous. He would work all day and come home and work again at their place in the country. I do not know where or how he learned it, but he was also the neighborhoods stand in vet. One time my brother John & I were out hunting, and John shot the dog instead of the rabbit. Jim came over and dug the small 22 bullet out and gave the old beagle a penicillin shot. Brownie the beagle recouped just fine.

I will never forget my friend Gene Daniel’s father Walt. He always seemed older than the other parents with his gray hair and wrinkled face, but his pace was always even, and he was always busy. He was a janitor for a high school in the city. After work he took care of his home in the country. If they wanted to improve their house, he did it. Adding rooms to the house, even digging and building a septic tank out of concrete blocks when they first added an indoor bathroom.

My Uncle Jude was a small thin wiry man with thick coarse salt and pepper hair. I don’t know that he ever had a job working for anyone else. He supported his family building things. Uncle Jude and Aunt Harriet lived in the country south of Warrensburg Missouri. Living in towns like Leeton and Chilhowee, towns so small they did not have a streetlight. I remember once going to visit him at a work site where he had built a whole house by himself, even the foundation which he built with concrete blocks one at a time. While I was there a man stopped in to look at the house. He liked it and asked Uncle Jude what he needed to do to close the deal. Uncle Jude brandished a sly smile and rubbed his thumb in a circle on his index finger. The guy swallowed then headed for the bank to get money.

Today when I think about hard workers, I think about my best friend Herb Partain. He drove over 3 million miles for UPS. He pulled two and three trailers behind his tractor through rain, wind, snow and Ice for 43 years. Never had an accident. I cannot imagine facing a white out of snow with a base of ice on the road pulling 2 trailers packed with goods and knowing you may have to do the same thing tomorrow. When he retired, he held the number one position on seniority. They called him Crowbar at work. That was his CB handle (name) and a good description of his tough character.

I think about my Son-in-Law Gregg Hall. He is a pastor and puts many hours at the church serving the people. He gets just a day and a half off each week.  Yet he has always found time for his family. With the help of YouTube and other family members he has taught himself how to fix and improve things in their home. He has taught his whole family how to hunt including my daughter. He even butchers the deer himself. It is always a shock to step into their garage and see a whole deer hanging upside down from the rafters while it ages.  Through my life I have seen a lot of pastor’s families suffer because he was so busy with his church family, he didn’t have time for his own family. Not Gregg. In godly wisdom and principle, he has always put his family first.  I thank him for that, he is a great husband & father
Finally, my grandson Caleb Willoughby who started on the crew of a landscape company at 18 and now in his early 20s is foreman and leads the others of the company. He is a tall humble man who was such a good and dedicated follower that it was plain to see he is a natural born leader. I have never heard Caleb complain about anything. Never heard him criticize anyone. After working hard hours outside in harsh weather conditions, he does not come home and sit in front of the TV, he helps his lovely wife Kalli with their 3 young sons till bedtime.

Where did the skills come for all this labor? I believe that God gifts them into a man or woman who approaches life with a can-do attitude. One who looks at a new task with determination and not fear. One who puts those who depend on them first.

I want to apologize to all my hard-working family & friends that I did not have time to mention in this Labor Day ditty. I had to stop somewhere as the stories never end.  (If you like my stories feel free to share them)

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