PofE 025: Father’s Day Post: My Father’s Work Ethic

My father never went to college but ran his own business. His life and example have remained with me into adulthood and are compelling me to become a writer to tell his story.


“By these things examine thyself. By whose rules am I acting; in whose name; in whose glory? What faith, humility, self-denial, and love of God and to man have there been in all my actions?” –Jackie Mason

At my father’s funeral, his brother in-law Rev. Reed, who leads a church in Baltimore, preached his eulogy. After listening to the sharing from family and friends, dad's golfing buddies, and others, Rev. Reed stated that someone should write a book about an ordinary, hard-working man who raised an extraordinary family. My uncle, Samuel Jackson, called my father “one of the hardest working men I’ve ever known.” He was amazed at the level of strength my dad had and could not understand how someone could work so hard and provide so much. You see, my dad and mom took care of my cousins with the six of us during the summers when we were teenagers.

My father never went to college but ran his own business. His life and example have remained with me into adulthood and are compelling me to become a writer to tell his story.

My first memory of my father was when he came home from work. He would have a little something to eat and take a nap in our family room. Sometimes he would take off his shirt while he napped; he was well built and even had a six pack. He remained in shape most of his working life, developing a solid physique from working outside in the sun. However, he only stood 5’9". He worked as an independent contractor pouring concrete for new homes in Florida and was trained as a mason building concrete foundations, sidewalks and driveways. His work was extremely strenuous and difficult. After becoming a teenager, I stood taller than my father but I would never challenge him because of my respect for him and his incredible strength.

My father awoke every morning at 5:00 am and worked in the Florida heat year round. The men who worked with him or knew him respected his work ethic.

When I was in middle school, I went to work with my dad to earn money during the summer. One day we went to a job site. We got out of the truck where we had to prepare the floor of a house before framing the driveway that was filled with piles of dirt. After we boarded up the area to set the driveway and sidewalks, the concrete truck came at about 2 o'clock.  I think we finished at around five or six o'clock that day and my dad stopped for 10 minutes to have a sandwich; he worked the entire time. This was during the summer where the weather would typically top out at about 95° or 100°. 

My oldest brother Wendell took after my dad. He spent his summers working with him pouring concrete while in high school. One day when they were scheduled to pour the foundation for a home in Lakeland, Florida, to the south of town, the truck that delivered sand required to pour the foundation delivered too much. Dad and Wendell were the only men working that day, and Wendell looked at my father and asked, “When are the other men coming to help with this load of dirt?”  “Well son, looking at the sand is not going to move it in its place – let’s get going,” my dad said.  As they begin to move the mountain of sand in place dad said, “You have to move it one stove at a time and use your legs.” By 12 noon they had removed the excess dirt and prepared the foundation for the concrete trucks.  My brother told me he would never forget that lesson.

I never heard my father complain, whine or pout about his life. He loved being responsible and being the breadwinner who provided food, clothing, and shelter, while having the energy to engage with his six children after putting in long hours in the sun. He and mom purchased the home I grew up in when I was one and seemed to be well off supporting us. My dad supported our goals and dreams. He helped all of us get started with college although they didn’t have a lot of money. Dad and mom never went to college, but they made sure we all had the opportunity to go to college;
four out of six of us attended college, the other two went to vocational schools. They worked hard to support us and made it their goal for us to understand the importance of education.

For the majority of my life growing up, my mom and dad had a great relationship and she supported him in his efforts to support our family. Like many married couples whose children have left home for college they experienced their share of marital ups and downs. It was the empty nest syndrome. Mom respected dad because of their relationship and also for the way he supported us. My parents grew up during the 1930’s and 1940’s, so being black in the South wasn’t a walk in the park. They loved each other and they loved us. I personally felt like I grew up wealthy and was shielded from the social and political tension of the 60’s. Like Rosa Parks, my mother was also told to move to the back of the bus or get off; afterwards my father made sure we always had two cars. I personally had no idea.

The men in my town called my dad W.C.; he was well-known within our community. I learned that my dad wasn't someone to play with because of the way the men respected him in town.

My Father

He was drafted and served in the military during the Korean War before most of my siblings and I were born. He would tell us interesting stories of his experience in the Army but he didn’t go to Korea.

In the 70’s my father started playing golf and I have fond memories of going to golf tournaments with him and my sisters, staying in hotels and meeting new friends. Because of his physique and strength he became a really good golfer and upon his death I learned that he won 18 trophies during his time in the amateur black men’s golf league. He taught me to play and after his death, I inherited his golf clubs. I’ve learned to play pretty well using his clubs.  

My Father_Playing_Golf

One of the most poignant memories I have of my father was the way he worked to take care of his mother. My father loved his mother and he did whatever was required to support her throughout her life and her transition towards death.

He also did a lot to take care of others in our community. He served on a number of boards in the church we attended and he supported many of the elderly that needed help around their homes. He was also a great grandfather.

Finally, I remember dad teaching me how to support and raise my own family, especially how important it is to support my daughter as she becomes a young lady. I remember him when I get up and go to work. I remember him when I pay bills, buy food and ensuring we have proper clothing and shelter, because that’s what dads do. His example helped me to make a decision not to pursue my career as a professional musician so that I would be there for my wife and kids and not go on the road performing. Reflecting back on my dad's strength means a lot to me and has helped me become the man I am today.

What memories do you have of your father? How has your father’s work ethic impacted your life?

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5 thoughts on “PofE 025: Father’s Day Post: My Father’s Work Ethic

  1. I used to argue with my Dad during my rebellious militant days of my youth. I was leaning toward Malcolm and away from MLK’s non violence.

    My dad was a dietitian (cook) with the VA in west philly where I grew up. I was always amazed how he would get up every morning at about 2:00 to get things ready for breakfast for the veterans in the hospital and their guests.

    In those days, late 1960’s early 1970’s philly was a youth gang infested city. Even good kids got caught up in the violence. I am amazed how my dad kept me and my two brothers from being involved with all of that craziness.

    Basically, my dad would not let us hang on the corner. And had us inside at 10:00 pm.

    When I graduated college, and I told my father that I was going to officer candidate school, he didn’t believe me. He loaned me $75.00, a required fee, and off i went to OCS.

    It was not until he came to my OCS graduation that he realized that I was to become an officer of marines. I could see the pride in his eyes.

    Just before he died, I payed my father back his $75.00. It took about 14 years. But, I knew it was something that I had to do.

    I imagine that this is how God saw Jesus. Dying for all of mankind. He just wanted to please his Dad.

    I always lived my life, as we all should, thinking would my father be pleased with my life. Did I grow up to be a good man, husband, father, and citizen.

  2. Gerald,

    Thanks for the memories, excellent! One of my fondest memories was of daddy coming home from work and we all met him at the door with hugs and kisses. Who daddy hugged and kissed first depended upon who met him at the door first. Before or shortly thereafter, he would find his way to mom. Daddy always had six little bodies hanging over him. Sharon and I would fight for a ride on his knee; he would end up riding us both one on each knee.

    Daddy also had a comical side, remember how he played the dusens (spelling) (told jokes). He never allowed us to fight, always had a life lesson for us, he was so protective of us all and loved babies no matter whom they belonged to.
    Daddy was a man of the Word, he loved the Lord. He also loved music, I remember on Friday and Saturday nights we spent hours in the living room with the front door open, playing his albums while he and mom danced. We all sat there admiring Mama and Daddy showing their love for each other and having fun. Daddy was an awesome singer, he sang in the church choir, at home, in the shower, while he was working and he whistled all the time. We thought Daddy was invincible, in our eyes he was.

    Daddy was a stern and consistent disciplinarian. He did not play! Daddy was loving, caring and supportive but he accepted nothing but us doing the right thing and all 6 of his children behaving at all times. In church the six of us would sit with the youth in the church and at times we would get caught up talking and playing with the other children. To get his six little Indians back in line daddy would only have to clear his throat from the choir stand from the far side of the sanctuary. My daddy was everywhere!

    Because the weather has such an effect of his job, he was a self-made meteorologist. He could tell if it was going to rain, how long it would last and how cold it would be, In 2004 when all the hurricanes hit Florida, daddy was never alarmed, he would look at the maps of the high and low pressures and all the other values meteorologist used and he would voice the outcome before they would….and be right. He was a man of many talents.
    One thing I always found amazing was that Daddy never forgot anything. His favorite joke was that he remembered the first words that he ever heard, “It’s a boy!” LOL. That’s my Father, my Mouch (our affectionate nickname), my friend, my hero….my Daddy.

    I know that daddy is proud of all of his children and looking down on us with a smile. Looking at each of our lives individually, we held onto his every word. I’ll always love my daddy….


  3. Talk about memories all through life dad was a teacher. I remember when I was getting ready to go off to college in Pensacola I heard on the radio about Pensacola being a place where the Klans were marching and in full force. I thought I did not want to go there because I was scared. Dad was out side in the yard enjoying the weather so I walk up to him just hanging around making small talk. Then I said it I told him about what I heard on the radio and that I did not want to go to West Florida. Dad looked at me and said “well baby, if you let something like that run you away from something you want to do you will be running for the rest of your life”. You know he was right. I went to the University of West Florida had the best time and experience of my life. Met my husband there. By the way I never had any conflicts while in West Florida. My daddy was a wise man. He use to let us think we were doing things on our own but he and mom would be watching over us at a distance. Then they would let their presence known. My first year at West Florida mom and dad showed up unexpectedly. I know they were making sure I was alright. I thank God for my Dad the great protectors 

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