In honor of Father’s Day, Carol Kana, Dr. Elva Meiners and Gale Lincke join me in honoring the memories of our dads. These good men not only left footprints on our hearts, but the lessons they taught us continue to influence and enhance our lives today.
Carol Kana remembers her father, Arthur Strobel
When I was growing up, Dad worked for the Carnation Company in Schulenburg, Texas. Very early, six mornings a week, he drove a route picking up large, heavy steel 10-gallon cans of milk from local farmers. He later off-loaded them at the processing plant in town.
When I was 10 years old, Dad began teaching me to drive his old flatbed delivery truck on Saturdays and summer mornings.
I can still hear his laughter when I accidentally double-clutched. If I ground the gears, he’d say, “They’ll make them out of rubber next year.”
The farm roads were not all that well maintained and got quite slippery when they were wet. These conditions sometimes caused the milk cans to slide around on that slick steel-plated truck bed, especially on sharp curves. It didn’t bother Dad, though. He would comment, “I’m glad this flatbed has side rails.”
Afternoons and evenings were dedicated to Dad’s second job: custom haymaking. He cut, raked, and baled hay for multiple customers. My dad trusted me to help him by driving the tractor and raking.
Summers were hot and dusty, but the 1¢ per bale compensation I earned was pure profit. It was my first savings plan! A small transistor radio, a steering wheel knob and a small canopy added to my comfort on those 98-plus degree afternoons. Job perks included occasional trips to the local swimming pool and frequent treats of hand churned homemade ice cream made by Mom.
Learning tractor skills, engaging gears and perfecting rake settings taught me common sense and a work ethic that has stayed with me all my life.
Walking in my dad’s footsteps and watching him closely all those years ago, I learned valuable life skills. Dad never knew a stranger, so his friends were many. That meant they were my friends, too. Dad’s honesty and generosity were endless. A compassionate man, Dad possessed many talents that he passed down as a legacy for his grandchildren.
At family gatherings and large spreads of home baking, Dad always made the same comment that still is repeated in our family today.
“I wonder what the poor folk are eating!” he would say.
Memories of my father, Arthur Strobel, are not reserved just for Father’s Day. His positive attitude and jovial personality still influence my life daily!
Dr. Elva Keilers remembers her father, Elvis W. Meiners
For the most part, my father was a soft-spoken man. However, when he did speak, it was in one’s best interest to listen.
Our earliest relationship revolved around hunting and guns. In fact, I’m told that on my first birthday, his gift to me was a small rifle, a 218B, to be exact. Clearly, it was quite a few years before I could even lift it, much less shoot it, but the importance of that gift was to acquaint me with guns as a normal part of my life.
That led to a couple of rules never to be violated or ignored:
First, a gun is ALWAYS loaded, even if all ammo has just been removed. Treat it as if it is loaded. End of discussion, no exceptions.
Second, NEVER point a gun at anything that you do not intend to shoot. Again, end of discussion, no exceptions.
Those two rules were implanted in my brain with all the impact of a blinking neon sign. They have kept me from acting impulsively on numerous occasions throughout my considerable life span. Caution in these two areas spread to other situations, which often has been helpful in ways that I could not have anticipated.
Another piece of advice from both my parents was to always remember that if one wants to do something badly enough and works hard enough, one can achieve it, within reason of course. My mother always echoed my father’s words in this matter, and this advice allowed me to accomplish numerous things that helped me along my life’s course.
I daresay that it directed me often, even at times when I would have preferred different guidance.
It took years for me to develop the maturity to appreciate the wisdom in all these bits of advice from my dad. I hope he would appreciate the outcome of his efforts.
I am ever grateful for his undying patience with me in all things at all times.
Gale Lincke remembers her father, Elmo Minzenmeyer
A full time farmer, my father worked from early in the morning until sundown. He was gentle with the earth and with his animals.
He marveled at spider webs, the birth of animals, purple thistles and all the ways of nature, always remarking at the wonders he knew God had created. My father also instilled in me the interest and curiosity to care for what God has given us.
My father was a natural leader, thoughtful and dedicated. A man of integrity, he rose to leadership roles in community organizations such as church, school board, Texas Farm Bureau and Fayette Electric Cooperative.
The calendar that hung on the wall by the phone was always penciled full of meetings. Dad never “made over” the fact that he was president of an organization. His goal always was to do what was right for the benefit of the group. Somehow, he fit it all in, and still ran a successful farming operation.
With all of the community involvement and personal connections that Dad enjoyed, he accepted everyone as “A Child of God.”
“We just have to accept him as God made him,” I can hear him saying.
Dad knew exactly how to get the best out of anyone. When I was a child, he never chastised me for failing, but gently asked, “Did you do your best?” Having to answer that question was all of the reprimand that I needed.
Going to church on Sunday morning was an extension of our family life. If there was something at church, we were there.
If someone was in need, my parents were the first to step up to help. Dad knew just where to find the resources needed to solve a problem and he was never afraid to ask.
Dad also taught me how to correctly stack hay on a hay trailer, move cattle without driving them through the fence, check a “hot wire” on the fence without getting zapped and use a clutch.
My father passed away without warning when my son was six months old. One of my greatest regrets is that my son did not get to have a relationship with this strong Christian man. My son missed the gift of learning life lessons that his grandfather, Elmo Minzenmeyer, taught me.
Living in what I think of as the shadow of his leadership, I often reflect on Dad’s legacy. I hope he would be pleased with my contributions.
Elaine Thomas remembers her father, Robert William Taylor
When my father whistled, the sound was so pleasing that songbirds stopped to listen. A quiet man, who was as honest as the day is long, he was uneasy being the center of attention. Yet, Dad served the community in a different, but vital way.
Despite Dad’s reserved demeanor, he had a reputation as the best water-witcher in the district. Like his father before him, Dad could find water.
This was long before high-powered water drilling rigs could easily punch triple-digit deep holes in the ground in the foothills of the Rockies south of Calgary where I grew up. Back then, if a piece of farmland didn’t have a steady, reliable source to water livestock or supply a farmstead, its value was greatly diminished.
Surface water sloughs were undependable, often drying up in the summer or icing over in the winter. Many old wells hand dug to a maximum depth of about 20 feet played out over time. Occasionally, a prolific deeper well would begin to falter and fail, feeding a suspicion that a new well somewhere else had tapped into that vein of water.
No wonder Dad’s expertise was in demand.
We didn’t have a telephone, so when an old pickup truck lumbered slowly down our driveway in the summer months, Dad frowned. He dreaded visits that began with small talk about rain and crops and ended with an urgent request.
“Bill, I’m out of water. I have to drill another well. Will you witch it for me? Please?”
Although Dad wanted to say no politely and send the neighbor on his way, he couldn’t do that. Instead, he gazed off at the horizon before speaking.
“I can’t guarantee anything,” he’d say.
When the neighbor offered payment, Dad shook his head vehemently. “I don’t want your money.”
Usually the next morning, the same pickup truck came down the driveway, this time kicking up a little tunnel of dust on the gravel road. The neighbor, all smiles, had come to pick up Dad to head to where the water was so desperately needed.
Dad carried a freshly cut “v” branch cut from a young willow on the banks of the creek below the house in one hand. In the other, he grasped a heavy iron crowbar.
Once at the location, Dad held a prong of the sapling in each hand and walked slowly back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. As the minutes ticked by, nothing was said. Certainly no pictures were taken.
Sometimes, the stick jerked slightly on its own. Now and then, when it refused to move at all, Dad reluctantly told the neighbor he couldn’t find a significant underground stream at that site.
On occasion, though, the sapling twisted so violently that it grazed the skin on the palms of Dad’s hands.
When that happened, the neighbor got excited, but Dad was weary, physically and mentally wrung out from the effort. They’d mark the spot before Dad exchanged his willow stick for the crowbar.
He’d go back to the designated spot and holding the crowbar loosely in his hand, count as it methodically rocked back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. When the motion stopped, he multiplied the total by two, an estimate on the depth of the water stream, give-or-take 10 feet.
Would the well pay off so his neighbor obtained the water supply he desperately needed? Dad certainly hoped and prayed so. In the interval between the witching of the well and the arrival of the drillers, he often paced the kitchen floor at night wrestling with the responsibility.
I admire Dad for stepping up, fully aware of the big-ticket expense and work involved once he said, “There’s a strong stream here.”
Pushed beyond his comfort zone each time he witched a well, Dad earned his neighbors’ respect for trying. Most, but not all, of his wells turned out to be highly satisfactory.
Dad would be pleased, I think, to know many still are pumping today.
Sons and daughters, now it’s your turn. How did your father influence your life? We’d enjoy hearing your memories.