While reading the book written by Bettie Youngs, I couldn’t help but notice many similarities to so many farm families I have known over my lifetime.
She notes that among her father’s few assets when returning home to the Midwest from service in World War II were “a strikingly beautiful young wife, three healthy children and one on the way.”
Hard work. She remembers those early years in which her father was working so hard to build a farm as wonderful years for their family.
“My mother and dad were happy and optimistic. It was during that time that he made an enormous decision for a man weighted under so much responsibility. He decided he wanted a larger scale operation,” she writes.
It meant that this man needed financial backing to accomplish any of it. This was in an era when a man’s character and integrity served as his collateral. His relationship with his banker became one of mutual respect and trust.
Character. Youngs writes, “Art Swasand, the banker at the Farmer’s Savings Bank in Vincent, was an honorable man who believed in honorable men. He did business the old-fashioned way himself; a client’s character was an important part of the deal.”
I recall this same sense of partnership and honoring of loyalties from so many individuals with whom my dad dealt over the years.
Vivid memory. I recall, in particular, one day when a man stopped by our dairy barn to talk to my dad about changing milk haulers.
After listening to the man tell how he could pick up our milk and haul it to a dairy plant for less money, putting more profit in the farmer’s pocket at the end of the month, I tried to stay busy while curiously watching to see what my dad’s reaction would be.
He lit his pipe. He always lit his pipe when he was contemplating his words carefully. It was a gesture that we knew all too well. Dad slowly and carefully repeated the man’s words back to him.
“That’s right, that’s right!” the man said enthusiastically. He felt sure he had sewn up my dad’s business.
Loyalty. My father then proceeded to tell this gentleman that he was loyal to the family who had picked up his milk, without fail, ever since he started with a string of six Holsteins, putting milk in cans in those early years.
“We’ve had blizzards, floods, all kinds of challenges, and Junior Paullin has never let me down. That’s worth more than a dollar or two at the end of the month. So you don’t need to bother stopping back here ever again. He has my business until I no longer have any milk to ship.”
It was a lesson in loyalty. It was a day I will never forget.
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