Growing up, like most children, I did not have the perspective to fully comprehend my environment. My father owned a stake in the family companies started by his father. The South Texas companies included construction, cranes, and lumber businesses that started in 1927.
Having a 4,000-acre company hunting lease in Frio County to go to every winter, or, if you were broken down on the road, a company tractor-trailer rig that would arrive to pick up both you and your car and take you to the company’s mechanics shop – this was just part of my childhood environment.
This made me a lazy person in some ways, but in others, I picked up on the family work ethic. When I was 14, I worked in the summer as a laborer. For $1.50 an hour, I had a number of jobs. Some I remember well, like moving multiple bundles of lumber out of the weather by hand, picking up trash, and sweeping the floor. The floor was 20,000 square feet and the trash filled three thirty-foot dump bed trucks. The truck driver Jesse taught me how to use the PTO and dump the load. It was a lot more fun and easier to unload the trash than to fill it up.
My work effort reading and writing in middle and high school is a good example of the bad kind of lazy. Almost all my reading was technical books. I could write process documentation, but hardly anything else. I was in my early 20s when I started reading novels for fun. After that, my writing improved.
So, if I could go back and speak to my younger self, it would be to say, “Read and write for fun when you’re young and never stop!”
P.S. My grandfather was in his early teens when he and his father immigrated from Southern Italy, coming through Galveston to work in the vast open copper mines in southeastern Arizona. The mines at the time were worked primarily by Mexicans and Italians. here he met my grandmother and started a family. In 1920, he moved the family to San Antonio.
When starting his own business, my grandfather needed to have accounting skills, so he sent off for a correspondence course from Chicago. He would do his homework and send it off by mail, and two or three weeks later he would receive a letter with his grade and the next assignment.
How times have changed.