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Friday, April 20, 2012

Something I learned from my dad

Dad grew up in a tough mill town. Fights were common.

My dad said to never threaten anyone. He never did.

He had a few reasons. Threatening someone gave them advanced warning. If the guy really needed a punch in the nose -punch him in the nose. Don’t use words when a fist is needed.

If something bad happens to someone, the cops always look for the guy who threatened the victum in public. Even if you didn’t harm the guy, you are still a suspect because of your words. On the other hand, if you really really do harm someone, there are no threats in the public record.
Dad thought threatening someone was a sign of weakness. Words are empty. He had no respect for “big talk and no action.”

Some people yell when mad. Dad did just the opposite. If someone really ticked him off he’d get real quiet. He’d walk up close to the guy and talk in a low voice that only they could hear. The guy would have to pay attention and listen closely. Then dad would tell him the consequences if his actions continued. It wasn’t a threat in dad’s mind -more of a promise. He’d explain to the guy exactly what kind of hurt he was in for. The choice was his. Dad kept his promises.

My father told me to never start fights, but to finish them. In spite of his toughness, he never looked for trouble. In a fighting town, trouble would sometimes find him. Not all those fights were won, but the winner didn’t get away without a world of hurt. Nobody wanted to mess with him again.

As a kid, I knew little of dad’s rough and tumble past. He never wanted me to have to grow up the way he did. Over the years, more and more stories from the old days came to light. I learned a few more while visiting him in Florida this past winter.

Dad’s 76 now and living the typical retired guy life, but heaven help the man who threatens him. My old man is still tough enough if the need should ever arise.



  1. That's a guy I can respect.
    I grew up in a lumber town and there was no end of drunken brawls.

    It's only after getting my scrawny ass kicked too many times to remember have I came to the same conclusions as your father.

    BTW, there is an old saying I have come to admire more every passing year that is a sage piece of advice to our younger and rowdier brethren.

    Never pick a fight with an old man, he will probably just kill you.

  2. An old guy knows he doesn't have the endurance for a prolonged fight so he ends it quick and nasty.

  3. When I was young, the loud threats were called "woofing". Smart guys like your dad never did it. If someone did it you knew that it was time for you to take action or leave. Yelling back only escalated things and gave the other guy time to work up his courage/anger/energy.

  4. I'm too old and weak to fight, so I would have to just shoot the guy!!

  5. I like your Dad and I never even met him!

    Sounds very wise to me.

  6. Phyllis (N/W Jersey)April 20, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    Reminds me of my Dad. Feisty, honorable, funny, compassionate and smart as all get out. He told both my brother AND me to never, ever start a fight; but if you are in one, finish it and don't come home crying. God, how I miss him....

  7. Your post reminded me of Jack Hinson, a Western TN/KY area farmer who owned a large amount of farm land during the civil war era. He was in his 60's when the war commenced and, against sedition, but friendly to both the federals and the Confederates, had two sons beheaded by a Union scouting party. They took them for marauders and put their heads on the gateposts to the farm.

    After burying his sons, he lent a visit to the local gunsmith to have made a .50 caliber rifle. Accurate for several hundred yards, he used it to first remove from action the officer and sergeant responsible for his son's deaths. Thereafter he waged what is now known as "Hinson's One-Man War", putting a notch on his weapon for every Union soldier he eliminated. It is said his favorite targets were officers.

    He was never caught by Union forces, despite hundreds of men sent to kill him, although he lost his home and seven sons to the war. The gun still exists. Its written it has over 100 notches.

    Some folks are quite peaceable till pushed.