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Pay Attention, You Might Learn Something

| June 08, 2018

When I was fifteen years old, the furthest thing from my mind was what my life would be like at seventy.  I thought I would go to college and study engineering.  I wanted to build roads and bridges, perhaps because I-70 was under construction just north of town.  I took a course in biology, but my only real interest in that class was the girl with whom I shared a lab table.  I liked history, and I was studying German.  The thread there was Dad’s service during WWII and the fact that Ellis County had been settled by “Volga” Germans.  If there was a science of ageing or a career field called gerontology, I was innocently unaware. 

I didn’t really enjoy my teen years in the classroom, but that’s a tale for another time.  The lessons that were most valuable to me later in life were taught by my principle employer of those years, Adolph Reisig, owner of A. A. Reisig Oil Company (and myriad other small businesses).  Adolph was a lifelong friend of Robert J. Dole.  They grew up together in Russell, Kansas.  Dole was a war hero, and at that time, a U. S. Congressman.  Thanks to Adolph, I have a deep well full of Bob Dole stories, and looking back, I see that Adolph’s purpose in sharing them was to provide some economic and character lessons for my father’s son.  Dad and Adolph were good friends, too.  I’m a slow study, but grateful now.  Adolph never mentioned the fact that he himself had served as an enlisted Marine at Guadalcanal, suffering injuries so severe that he spent more than nine months in a navy hospital.  Or, that he married his nurse.  I learned these things from Adolph’s obituary.  There are lessons there, too, I think.

Do I write like I’m getting old?  Probably, but my papered wandering has a purpose, and that purpose is to expose some acquired wisdom that hasn’t quite organized itself.  I want you to see and appreciate that life teaches.  Life teaches.  Beneath the weight of time – and among the many seemingly unimportant details of their lives – old people know things that matter. Pay close attention to their stories. You might learn something.  Until next week,