Once upon a time a fifth boy was born to an old man and his second wife, a woman younger than his first child from his first family. The old father was a rich, esteemed entrepreneur who owned lumber and gas wells. A falling beam soon damaged his brain irreparably. My father never saw his father until the funeral. Dad was thirteen. face significant challenges
An Entrepreneur Born and Bred
Right after the accident, the first son cast the second wife and her five preschool boys out on their ears. She moved to town near a glass plant, took in washing and made candy she sold to factory workers on their breaks. Her boys helped where they could as they grew. face significant challenges
Growing Boys Are Eating Machines
She hired herself out as housekeeper to a farmer who worked as a rural mailman. Five boys made good farm slaves. Five boys were taken out of school to go hunting, whether they liked it or not, whether it was hunting season or not. Dad made it to eighth grade before a teacher whipped one brother so bad, they all quit rather than murder the man.
World War II
Off they went. Dad was a truck driver. Instead of freezing in an unheated cab, he opened the firewall for access to the engine’s heat. It didn’t go unnoticed–nor reprimanded. Instead, army bigwigs hitched rides with him, much to his intense dislike. He’d rather have been reprimanded.
One brother who became a welder taught Dad how to weld. They opened a shop for awhile. Dad married a young woman, barely legal. Hmm. And the kids started coming, me first, his family soon outgrowing the old shed he’d made over into a home. Off to a city for night-shift factory work, until someone rubbed him the wrong way. At job after job, someone always rubbed him the wrong way.
Back to the Sticks
Dad made over a tiny rural store into a home for us, did mechanic work and welding. Eventually he built his own welding shop. He was his own boss come what may. Mantra: Don’t tell me what to do. That went for wife and kids, too. I barely knew the man because he’d never learned how to be a father, worked hard, drank hard and sometimes woke screaming, until death.
Entrepreneurship tends to run in families. Many can’t hold down a “normal” job. Many start work as kids. Many are geniuses at what they do, but it comes disguised as work in overalls, with red devil horn marks on the forehead from a welding helmet. Many don’t recognize the value of their skills and price themselves too low. Many are missed by an entire small town of customers and people they helped when their cars broke down along a road.