In the first half of the twentieth century a son and his father were repairing a roof in rural Idaho. Father would take a nail, tap it to set it and drive it home with two or three well placed strikes. His son would take a nail, tap it to set it, and drive it home with ten or fifteen well placed strikes. This process repeated itself a few times before Father stopped to observe his son at work. He noticed that his son was holding the hammer halfway up the handle. Father stopped his son and explained to him that he would have a much easier time setting nails if he held the handle lower. Doing this would give more power to his strike and let him swing the hammer far fewer times. Father stepped back and allowed his son to return to work. His son took a nail, tapped it to set it, and drove it home with four well placed strikes. Pleased Father returned to his section of roof and the two continued working. After some time Father noticed the number of strikes from his son again increasing to ten to fifteen strikes per nail. Father looked up and saw that his son was holding the hammer in the middle of the handle again. Father stopped his work, went to the ladder, and climbed off the roof. His son stopped working and wondered where his father had gone. After a brief absence father returned with a saw in hand. He went to his son, placed his sons hand on the hammer near the head, marked where the bottom of his hand was on the handle, took the hammer and shortened the handle with the saw. The son looked on a surprised that his father would ruin a tool. Father handed the hammer back and returned to work. The son placed a nail, tapped it twice to set it and then drove it home with twenty-five to thirty well placed strikes. As the sun went down the son marked the end of the work day and was disappointed by how little they had accomplished because of the time it had taken him to do his work.

Many years later the son, my grandfather, related this story to me and told me that his father often taught him this way. Practical lessons that have allowed him to learn things he may not have realized on his own.

The way that I live my life ties to the examples that have been set before me. When I teach my children I often go to the practical lessons like the one in the story. I do that because that is how my father taught me and how I'm sure his father taught him. I've had many good examples of how to be a good child, friend, husband, father, leader, teacher and person. I try always to be conscious of the example I set so that at the end I can say I've lived an Atticus Finch type life where I am the same behind closed doors as I am in public.



AuthorClinton Robison