I’ve mentioned before that I used to get a small allowance as a kid. But, my Dad figured that my duty for that small amount of money would be mowing grass.
I started cutting grass when I was 9 years old. My Dad taught me the basics of grass care and lawn mower maintenance. How to carefully fill the mower with gas, check the oil after each use, how to overlap on each pass slightly as to not “miss a spot” Our yard over on Simmons Street seemed the size of Forest lawn to me and it seemed to take forever to cut it. It was boring, so I daydreamed about playing baseball. I was old Mickey Mantle in the 9th inning of the World Series getting the winning hit. In the end the grass got cut.
Down the road a few years later when I was 12, if I wanted money I had to work for it. At the beginning of the Summer in 1962, my Dad said “Go out and get you a few yards to mow.” So I went out and asked. I got Mr and Mrs Smith’s yard in the two story white house across from the mill. Mr and Mrs Cohran’ s house beside them, and the Smith’s two adult daughters who lived behind them on fifth street. I had a couple of them up on eighth street too, The William’s house and old Mr Crawford’s house. Mr Crawford was a character. He had been in WWI, and had been gassed with Mustard gas. Even though that had given him lung problems he still worked very hard at the Mill as a sweeper. He was quite a talker and I learned a lot from listening to him.
I got so many yards to mow, that I was super busy! The first couple of weeks were not so bad, but then there was ball practice….extra ones even, due to the fact that our coach really wanted to win first place. My client’s yards started getting long and Dad ended up “helping me out” so I could keep my yards and get my money. Dad didn’t complain. That’s just the way he was.
We won first place in little league that year, and I know Dad was proud. Tired from having to help me mow yards, but proud nonetheless. I continued to mow these same yards for years after that because Dad had “saved me” that year. I think my brother Mike Bowers kept on mowing them after I went off to West Georgia. Dad continued to help me if I needed it, and he would always check to make sure I hadn’t missed a spot. He did the same thing when I washed the car too!
I’ve tried to live the same philosophy. Let people work when they can, help when they need it, and tell them when they have “missed a spot”