The Farm Chronicles—Fighter or pushover?

My dad was a farmer, a cowboy, and a husband, father, and businessman all rolled into one. Born during World War I, he survived the Great Depression, grew food during World War II, was part of the Portage County Mounted Patrol, was a township constable, loved sports, especially football and basketball (he played semi-pro), and I can’t say enough good things about him. His mother was killed when he was 10 years old. She had gotten out of a car to help with an accident and someone hit her with another car. He lost his oldest son, my brother, to a drunk driver. There was a fair amount of tragedy in his life. He kept it all inside him and didn’t burden others with it. He was a man’s man with a code of honor.

There are so many stories I could share about my dad, and as I remember them, you may see them pop up in The Farm Chronicles. One was when my dad and mom were dating. My mom’s sister was getting married the next day, and dad was in the wedding party. So he and the guys were out celebrating at the Wayland town hall dance on Friday night before the wedding. It was time to leave, so he and mom were walking out of the hall, when dad stepped in front of her, showing off that he had a hot dog in each hand and was eating one of them. That’s when the trouble began. There was a world-class boxer outside the door of the town hall. For Friday night fun, he was cold-cocking all who walked through the door.

There were several of dad’s friends laid out outside the door from the boxer’s punches, which dad didn’t see. He was hit so hard that he swallowed the hot dog whole. What ensued was a sight that would have made the nightly news if there was a nightly news back then. Dad picked himself up off the ground and proceeded to beat that boxer within an inch of his life. It was so bad, that the boxer’s doctor called my dad into his office and wanted to know what he used to hit the boxer. Dad just showed him his two fists. The boxer never fought again. No charges were pressed. And the story was told often about how my dad had a black eye at the wedding—and how he got what he deserved for not being a gentleman by walking out of the dance in front of my mother! He would just smile. Mom knew it could have been her getting punched.

People either loved dad or hated him because he was pretty much a “let your yes, be yes and no, no” kind of guy. By the lines at his calling hours and funeral, there were more who loved him. Point is, he led his life by his own standards, the basis of such are found in Matthew 7:12, “Therefore all things whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you even so to them.” The Golden Rule. Dad had a fuel oil delivery business. There were many a frigid night he got a call, got dressed and went into the dark cold to deliver fuel to someone in need. He sold that business in 1973, in clearing the books, there was over $20,000 in uncollected fuel bills—he had given that fuel to those families in need. At say, 25 cents a gallon, that’s a lot of fuel. But that’s the type of man he was. A fighter when need be, a pushover when in need.

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Bill Wilson