Inherited Wealth

Inherited Wealth


           My 6 year old fingers held the nickel at the coin slot of the school’s candy machine.  I wanted so badly to release it and pull the lever for the candy bar.  I knew that I shouldn’t do it, because the coin was a refund from over paid milk money that my 1st grade teacher had given me to take home.  I wasn’t really going to put the money into the machine.  It was just my way of drooling over the candy while waiting for the school bus to take me home. 

Suddenly my friend, Austin, smacked my hand and the coin tinkled down into the machine.  I was frozen in shock as he pulled the lever which dispensed the candy bar.  I couldn’t have felt worse if I had just robbed the local bank at gun point.  I knew that the money should have gone back to my parents.  They were the ones who had provided the milk money in the first place.  As I stood and held that candy bar, I wanted nothing else but to put it back into the machine and to get my nickel back… my parent’s nickel.  I wouldn’t let Austin have any of the candy bar.  I didn’t eat it either.  I didn’t want it anymore.  I just stood and tried to figure out how to get my money back. 

I had a long wait for the bus because first grade got out much earlier than the older kids but we all rode the same bus home.  I was still sitting next to that candy machine when a man came and opened it up to refill it.  He thought my glum demeanor was because I wanted a candy.  So he offered to give me one for free.  As I held up my own candy bar, I told him that I didn’t want the candy, I wanted my money back.  I think he thought I was greedy and unthankful.  He was obviously disgusted with me.  I didn’t care.  I was still feeling full remorse for stealing that nickel from my parents.  Clearly, they had done a wonderful job teaching me honesty by the time I was 6 years old and going to school. 

In spite of my parent’s policy of strict honesty, over the years we had seen many examples of dishonesty on our small farm.  One of my earlier memories of it was when one of Dad’s loyal employees, Wanda, came to him and warned him about some of the other ladies who worked on our egg candling crew.  Dad had made it an employee benefit to “just take the eggs you need for your family, home.”  Wanda told Dad, “They’re robbing ya blind.  They must be taking eggs for every relative they have.”  But Dad seemed more concerned with honoring his promised “egg benefit” than he was about some of the employees taking advantage of him. 

In our little farm egg store, we had an old (even back then in the 60’s it was considered old) cash register.  This cast iron monster must have weighed 200 pounds.  At night the till was locked, but I guess at least sometimes the money was left in it.  One night, the whole cash register was stolen.  Investigation showed that the thief walked in the half mile through the back fields leaving light foot prints in the snow.  The foot prints back out through the fields sank into the snow much deeper as he carried his loot to his waiting get away car.  The thief made off with several hundred dollars.  Several weeks later, the sheriff found our broken open cash register where it had been dumped off along with some checks.  Of course, all of the cash was gone.

Once a farm employee, Greg – a college student who worked for us part-time, reported that one of our egg delivery money bags had been stolen.  In the ensuing investigation he finally admitted that he had taken the money.  Dad got the money back, and he didn’t press charges.  In fact, he even let Greg continue to work for us, just not around any of the money.  Dad wasn’t in a hurry to condemn someone who had made a mistake.

Another employee was one of many who ran home delivery routes for us.  She had worked for years when there was a disagreement over loading her delivery van in the morning for the day’s route.  I was too young to know the details of what her grievance was, but when she quit, we started getting calls from customers that we had no record of.  She had many cash only customers on her routes who were delivered our eggs as she pocketed the full amount of the payment. 

Our little farm store also sold a few other things along with the eggs.  Milk and other dairy including ice cream was a logical tie in.  We also had a nice display of candy, which was popular with the neighborhood kids.  Once we discovered that certain candies were disappearing along with the coin in our cash register.  (We now pulled all the currency out of the cash register every night, but left maybe 5 or 10 dollars of coin in the open drawer.  Dad said if someone broke in to steal the cash, he wanted the drawer open so they wouldn’t destroy the cash register trying to get to the few dollars that might be inside. So we always left it open at night.)  So we tried to stake out the farm at night to catch our thief, but he had been so inconsistent that it took a week or two to get any good leads.  One night while out on patrol, we found a neighbor kid in our yard.  Allen would hang around a lot anyway, so when he said he was just out for a walk (1/2 mile from his house and in our farmyard at 10:30pm) we were suspicious but didn’t have any real evidence that he was our “cat burglar.”  Then finally, we found where he must have been getting through our “Fort Knox” nightly lock-up.  Our egg processing building had a small freight door rather high up on one wall.  This 2 foot square door was our obvious “Achilles heal.”  We took great pleasure in blocking the door from the inside including a sign that Allen would read by flashlight when he tried to enter.  “Ha, Ha, Ha Allen.  No more free candy.” 

Down inside, Allen was a good kid who finally got it right.  He actually came to my Dad several years later with an admission of guilt, an apology, and several hundred dollars in restitution. 

My dad had been burned so many times that you’d wonder if his occupation was firefighting.  I was once using an old shovel to clean the floor in one of our chicken coops.  Dad was there helping with a push broom.  He said to me, “Be careful with that shovel.  I paid $1300.00 for it.  I look down at the old rusty shovel in shock.  He then told me that he had loaned a friend the money and had received the shovel as collateral.  Obviously, he knew he’d never see the money again.

Dad learned from these experiences and made adjustments.  One thing I remember him always saying was to keep the temptation for people to be dishonest to a minimum.  “Keep it out of sight.  Lock the doors.  Help keep the honest people honest.” 

As I reflect back on my childhood days on our farm, I want nothing more than to continue the legacy my parents perpetuated from their parents.  We always had enough money to meet our needs and once in awhile even a little extra for some fun, but we were never considered wealthy.  But the wealth of learning how to live honestly in spite of dishonesty all around me is a great treasured gem I received as a child.  It’s what made a six year old recognize whose nickel it really belonged to at the candy machine so many years ago.  My subconscious rings with maxims like, “An honest days work for an honest day’s wage.”  Like my dad, if I say I am going to do something, my honor is at stake.  So, “My word is my bond.”   

Truly, I have inherited a great wealth from my family.  The best part of this wealth is that no matter how trusting or gullible I am with other people who might want to steal my treasures, they can’t steal this one from me.  If I lose it, it’s my fault only.  More than money, land, or jewels, I want to be able to pass this treasure on to my children, and theirs.                

32 thoughts on “Inherited Wealth”

  1. Boy, those stories sure brought back memories.  I remember them all. You kind of brought it all togther for me though.  Now I know why I get so upset when people don’t keep their word.  Cause I was raised differently.

  2. It’s amazing when we think about the influences we’ve had growing up.  We still have some roadside produce stands in our area that have a little box for people to put their money in (on the honor system).
    I have a very strong sense of integrity that I have worked to pass on to my children.
    I try to teach this lesson through example.
    We were raised that ‘one’s word was your bond’, also.
    Great blog!  Have a great day!

  3. I had those dreams too.  I vividly remember "flying" down the lane and wishing I could go that fast when we were about to miss the bus.  Maybe it was all those eggs we ate, huh? ha ha

  4. Kia ora Ron,
    thanks for the visit.  Now how can we tie your lovely wife down for a bit of R&R.  And when we figure that out, maybe I can let my hubby know and he can work it in for me too.  LOL.  I love your latest story.  I feel the same about honesty as well, especially that old saying do unto others….  However my dad was a big liar and maybe that is what has kept me honest.  I will admit that Im not perfect and the odd little white lie does slip out now and then.. but I like to think its to help rather than to hinder someone.  I must admit the few times Ive given into temptation and done a whoppa lie it usually comes back and slaps me in the face.   LOL, so I guess Im just not good at it.  Its way too much energy and frustration trying to be dishonest anyway.  I find it much eaiser to be true to myself.. as much as Im able to anyway.  Have a good christmas. 
    ka kite ano

  5. What a wonderful inheritance! The older I grow the more I thank God for the wealth my parents passed on to me and the more I realize that it is the only true wealth I can leave my children.

  6. That was a good story… see?
    Thanks for coming by… wasting your time over there with me! ha ha… just think… three hours you’ll never get back.. ;o)

  7. What a wonderful story Ron.  How lucky you must feel to be a part of such a great family.  And I’ll bet they are proud of you.   You seem to be keeping with the tradition with your beautiful family.  I know you don’t blog a lot, but when you do…..its just plain wonderful.  Thanks for coming by to let me know.  Have a wonderful holiday season!

  8. Hi Ron,
    This story is very timely for me. We’ve had people breaking into our vehicles and stealing tools and they even pried the door open on my garden shed! A box of tools was also recently stolen from a job site so now everything is getting locked up at night. Too bad some  people don’t respect others property.
    Anyway I’m glad you think I’m bragging about the cold weather instead of thinking of me as the complainer that I actually am,lol.

  9. A fine tale but a six year old who is ‘testing’  a parents love is far removed from an employee swindling his boss. Too many people turn a blind eye these days, so much so that stealing from ‘the boss’ becomes a game, not a question of morals.
    Pleased you enjoyed my piece about my home county!! Have a peaceful weekend. 

  10. Ron, the story has two sides.  One is obvious the other not so.  Forgiveness is its own reward and honesty is much desired heritage.  The other side is the question of what poverty led to dishonesty on the part of those stealing.  I once said to an employer, "You’d fire us in a minute, if we stole as much from you as you steal from us.  You probably wonder why I think I can get away with speaking this way to you.  Well, you need me more than I need you. When I came to work for you, you promised to pay me $8.00 an hour, but now you require me to come in early off the clock.  That is my time and you are stealing it."  I wasn’t fired but he kept the policy. I did not quit, as I needed the job.  I did not steal from him to make it even.  Some do, some don’t. 
    Thanks for the mind jogging story.

  11. Just read your thankful list and the blog previous to that one about your ancestors.  Ah, how one has so much to be thankful for.  One day, I received an email from someone who had seen my quest for info on Mr. Guppie’s relatives.  It was another leg of Great Grandpa Henry M. G.  and so the search has added another section … Still nothing farther back… but it seems we are growing wider and deeper from his first bond.  Have a pleasant weekend you and your family.  mtgal

  12. Hey what were you doing lurking in my space at 2:20 in the morning?  ha ha.  I thought you were a early bird, not a night owl.  What a second, you didn’t get UP that early did you.  Holy Cow!!!!

    Wonderful, wonderful story, Ron…
    Sadly, the ones we really need to have embrace the old values of honesty and integrity now run this country as if they had never learned the lessons you did so long ago. That lack of values pervades so much decision-making affecting the lives of millions of honest, hard-working Americans. My comment wasn’t meant to be a political rant, my friend and I apologize if it appeared so.
    Not only was this a deeply moving story, Ron, in many ways it was a very appropriate parable for our needful times. Thank you for your compassionate, wise, generous offering of insight and personal experience.
    This one may well be my favorite of your entries to date.
    I wish you and your family a warm, safe, blessed Christmas together.

  14. Hi, Vallerie reads my space occasionally and said you were featured, so I came by. Good stories!! It’s amazing how times have changed, but you don’t think of it until memories like this make you realize. A good read, as was the Thankful list.

  15. hi, A greeting from a stranger in China, I saw your space ocassionally…and your wife’s as well…
    I like all your spaces and your family, so admiring you all…for we just could have only one child in one family, pity…..~~~

  16. Every time I come here I’m not disappointed. I so enjoyed your stories, even the little ones you’re telling, have profound meanings. And I’m so touched by your previous entry at Thanksgiving. Hope all is well with you and your family!

  17. Ron,
    Congratulations on being featured by MSN’s what your story! You deserve it! Have fun with all of your visitors! 
    Loved this blog, so well written and so true, there is nothing more important that one can have, with the virtues of honesty and integrity, that once lost is so hard to regain!
    I have gone back to running, but I am doing easy 3-5 mile runs.  Gonna keep it low mileage for a while.  My 11 yr old has expressed some interest, so I may start her on a training schedule in the next few weeks.
    Have you been keeping up with your running?
    Hope you are doing well,

  18. Honesty is the most precious gift the God give.
    It reminds me of my school days.A lot of students cheat in Exam,so did I .
    Then I realized it  guilty because the teacher told us that it is  a behaviour of stolen.
    I am trying best to get rid of the bad habit until now.
    P.S I would like to know your msn address and i wonder whether you often go there?
    Waiting for your reply.
    Yours sincerely,
    Caroline Hsu

  19. Hello Ron, Long time no blog!!! Just stopped by to say hello and to see what wonderful memories you have to share. What a great story this one is. As usual your memories are filled with lessons. All is good here in Colorado. Love the snow we got but it’ not enough…I love the snow! I love taking pictures of the snow too! Well take care Merry Christmas!

  20. Hi, RON!
    I love the story about your childhood days and the farm. I think I mentioned that my mom’s brothers were both farmers in Alberta,Canada. We spent many summer vacations on the farm, so I always consider myself a country girl. About learning values as a child, I remember when I was five and I took some candy, a chocalate bar or something and my mom made me bring it back. I learned the importance being honest from then!

  21. This is a great blog!  Honesty, when no one else but you knows, is a true sign of integrity.
    I am thankful for a conscience.
    Wishing you and your beautiful family a very Merry Christmas!! 

  22. *•.¸( *•.¸♥¸.•*´ )¸.•*´♥«´¨`•°MERRY CHRISTMAS°•´¨`»♥.¸.•* ( ¸.•*´♥`*•.¸ )`*•.¸

  23. Hello Ron… Merry Christmas on this special day.   I want you to know how much I have loved spending time with your family this year and for all the kind and thotful things you have done.  I hope this next year is the best ever for all of you. I cant imagine how it could be filled with more change than this last one has been.  If you decide to ski this year, let me know when you are headed up the canyon.  I would love to have the chance to catch up on all the news.  As the new year begins I hope you will take the time to do some things for you… I will touch base when I have a few spare minutes….Thanks again… Thotski…(my eastern european name)

  24. hoping that everything is OK with the family!
    Please extend an apology if I hurt V’s feelings over an insensitive comment. I was kidding, but my timing was very poor. Please tell her I am sorry.

  25. It’s been a while, Ron.  I hope you and your family are doing well.  Just thinking of you.  Been wanting another story from you.  

  26. Hi, Ron!
    I’m just stopping by to touch base and to tell you I hope your New Year is off to a wonderful start!
    I also hope your work on your novel continues to progess and that you are enjoying your work on it.
    Hope to see an update from you soon!

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