Firm, But Fair

A little background information I believe would be appropriate. My father’s father, back in early days of automobiles, was the town mechanic in a small town in the southwest corner of Massachusetts. We’re talking Ford Model ‘T’s’ and Model ‘A’s here. My dad spent his after school time, and Saturdays, helping his father out in the garage; starting when he was only six. Shortly after my dad’s twelfth birthday, a jack failed which resulted in crushing my grandfather. He died the following day. From that point on, my dad went to school a half day, and then came home and opened up the garage. That’s right; at twelve years old, my dad became the town mechanic in Housatonic, Massachusetts. To say that he didn’t have a normal childhood would be an understatement; circumstances required him to grow up fast. He had to help support his mother and younger sister. Now fast forward to Christmas, when I was in the fifth grade and we were living in a small town in central Florida. Both my younger brother, by three years, and I got brand new top of the line Schwinn bicycles; ones with all the bells and whistles including twin headlights incorporated into the front of the frame and speedometers. Within a week I began ‘stripping down’ mine. It’s what all the kids did back then. First off came the fenders (which caused my dad to grind his teeth but since it was my bike he just shook his head in disgust), and for reasons that to this day I do not understand, we all removed the kickstands as well. For the first week, I was faithful about leaning it against a tree or whatever was available. Then, following the lead of the other boys my age, began just letting it flop on the ground. This is where things start to go south. It wasn’t long that one day just after I’d gotten home from school, I hear, “Russell”, which coming from my father usually meant that life as I knew it was about to end. I go walking out and he’s looking at my bike on the ground behind his truck.

“It is not my responsibility to look behind my truck to be sure your bike is not in the way. Why you took that kickstand off I’ll never know, but you be sure to park it elsewhere. We won’t have this conversation again,” he stated emphatically. “Yes sir,” I added quickly, feeling quite relieved I was only getting a scolding. I quickly moved the bike out of the way and leaned it against a tree. A few days passed, and once again, after just getting home, I hear my dad’s truck start up, then I hear a weird noise, felt a gnawing feeling in my stomach, and hear, “RUSSELL”… Ruh Roh!!

Once again I took the walk of shame out to my dad, looking at what once was my bicycle after he had backed over it. Fearing the worst, I couldn’t even look at him. Silence…. Finally, he said, “Okay, this is what you’re going to do. Take what’s left of your bike and lean it against the wall in your bedroom. You will take my lawn mower and go out and find yards to cut to make money. When you have made enough to replace that bicycle you will take this one out of your bedroom and replace it. Now, you will replace THIS bicycle. You will not buy one off of your friends for five dollars. This one cost eighty dollars so that’s how much you have to earn. And since you’re using my lawn mower and my gasoline, you will give me half of every dollar you make. Understood?” Now understand that eighty dollars in those days was a fortune to a twelve year old boy.

All I could do is hang my head and carry that bike inside. From that point on, I spent weekends and three-quarters of my summer vacation mowing lawns at fifty cents apiece. I had to give my Dad a quarter from each one. While all my friends were out fishing, or swimming, I was cutting grass. And cutting grass, and cutting more grass. By the first week of August, I had earned enough to pay my dad back for that bicycle. He taught me that actions had consequences. He raised me firmly, but he was always fair. I wouldn’t trade that for the world. My dad was, is, and will always be MY hero.

Russ Snyder is an Amazon best selling author of two titles; The President's Weapon and Dead Water, and the soon to be released No Mercy Given. His website is and his FB writer's page is:

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