Reflecting on Dad
I have been thinking about Dad all week. This past Wednesday was the 5th anniversary of his death at age 87. He lived quite a life and worked right up until the end. He was the youngest of 10 children and was born in 1924. While all of his older siblings remembered the good times before the depression most of his memories were after the crash. They lived in a small town until he was 10 years old in 1934 and his father lost his school bus contract. With the depression getting worse off every year and no prospect of another job in town my grandfather sold the house in town for $500 and moved the whole family back to the farm. It was a hard life but living on a farm there was always plenty to eat. Not much money but at least plenty of food. My grandfather practically invented the term, “multiple streams of income” and in addition to farming he hauled commodities, moved people, was the community butcher, hunted commercially, fished, ginned moss and even distilled spirits.
My father learned how to work at an early age on the farm. During his life he worked in the New Orleans charity hospital as an elevator operator at age 16 and advanced to the operating room as a gas technician at age 17, was a corpsman in the US Navy in the South Pacific during 7 major invasions, ran an Army warehouse, worked at a bank, was a Ford parts salesman, worked at a tractor dealership and started and went on to operate several successful businesses.
I had the unique opportunity to first work for him and then work with him for 33 years. He was truly a great dad, partner and all around good guy.
But he always had a feeling that the good times might not last forever. He was a steady saver and told everyone to save at least 10% of their salary for their old age. He didn’t like to waste anything. Every scrap could be used for something later on. He shunned debt like the plague. He felt if he couldn’t pay for it he just didn’t need it.
Looking back he was only 5 years old when the stock market crashed. Of course rural America didn’t get hit until a while after that when commodity prices fell and banks began to close. His grandfather was fairly wealthy and owned a bank but he lost everything he owned trying to prop it up and pay off his depositors until he had nothing left and the bank failed. On the farm growing up they had scores of people passing through that would pitch a tent in their pasture for a day or so before moving on in search of work. My grandmother would always feel sorry for them and make sure they had something to eat. I can only imagine what it was like growing up like this listening to older siblings talk about how bad it was from just a few years before. Stories of banks going broke, farms lost, suicides, families split up, children being sent off to live with relatives and men on the road looking for any type of work they could find. That type of environment would change anyone’s outlook on the economy and finances in general.
As a result Dad stayed very liquid his whole life. He did invest in stocks and municipal bonds but the bulk of his wealth was in certificates of deposit at the bank. Later in life he invested more in precious metals outside the banking system. He always said the best investments that he ever made in his life were in his own companies. He also said it is hard making money but it is even harder to hang onto it. The older I get the more I understand what he was saying.
He was hard working and always lived modestly. He always said the only sure way to accumulate wealth was to live below your means and save the difference. He had no patience for people who lived beyond their means. He would just shake his head and say sooner or later……
On the other hand I was born in the boom of the 1950’s. It was a period of post war expansion and economic plenty. My generation has been one of easy credit, buy now and pay later, indulge yourself. A study the other day showed that less than half of the families in the US could come up with $1,000 in cash to cover an emergency without having to borrow it.
Dad never believed in relying on someone else in times of need. He believed that being an adult meant taking care of yourself and your family. That meant sacrifice and saving for hard times.
I hope those hard times never roll around again because that would mean a new generation of 10 year old boys that will have to grow up poor and do without. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen but let’s sacrifice and save a little right now just in case.
Larry lives in Shreveport, LA with his wife Puddy. Larry sells precious metals at the Silver Trading Company, LLC. Since 2001, Silver Trading Company has offered high volume sales of gold, silver, platinum and palladium to serious investors around the world. It also offers guidance about storage options for metals. Please visit Silver Trading Company’s website at www.silvertrading.net.
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