Gratitude: Day 6 (Book Review)

November 7, 2013

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Day 6:

Today I am grateful for education.  All I wanted to be when I grew up (other than a mom) was a teacher.  My sister and I (and our friends) spent HOURS playing school.  My love for school started when I was young.  I loved to learn (and boss teach).  I had wonderful teachers in elementary school who fostered and nurtured my love for school and for learning.  One of my favorite teachers was my sixth grade teacher, Mr. Pyle.  He also started my love for social studies which is what I eventually got my college degree in.  We worked on and entered a map contest and spent HOURS and days and time after school perfecting that map.  We ended up winning the contest and got to meet the Superintendent and had a special ceremony.  I was the group leader and I LOVED participating and creating this map.  I still love maps and think it traces back to my sixth grade year.

The other thing I loved about Mr. Pyle was that he read aloud to us after recess every day.  One of the books he introduced to us was an autobiography by a local author who lived very close to where we went to school at the turn of the century.  Mr. Pyle read with such emotion and I will never forget a particularly touching scene in the book that brought him to tears in front of his whole class.  What a way to show the growing youngsters in his class what a true man is made of!

Since my time in 6th grade I have read this book over and over and it is one of my favorites.  My favorite thing about the book is the way the little boy in the book talks about and reveres his father.  His father speaks such wisdom and much of the book teaches life lessons and how to build good character.

This summer I did the adult reading program through the Jeffco Libraries and one of the Bingo Squares you had to complete was to read a book written by a local author.  I remembered this book and decided to dust it off and read it again.  The only problem was that it was checked out!  So, I read his next book (Man of the Family) and LOVED it just as much or more as the original.  When the book finally made it back to the shelf I checked it out and decided that it was time to introduce the Lord boys to this literary gem.  Much of it is over their heads and they have a hard time picturing all of the farming equipment he describes (to be honest I have a hard time too, but it still so rich with other stuff that it doesn’t really matter).  I have already gotten emotional in the book several times (it means so much more that I have children of  my own- no wonder why Mr. Pyle got emotional).

In the book, Ralph (the author) is 8 years old.  His family has moved from the east coast to Colorado to become ranchers.  The book is about their struggles, triumphs and stories.  My favorite chapter in the book is called “My Character House”.  In this particular chapter, Ralph wants to haul up some rail road ties from a gulch near their house.  His father had mentioned he could help haul the ties when they got a new horse. So the day after they got the new horse, he fibbed and told his mom that Father said he could haul the ties by himself. She was surprised, but let him do it (reminder: this kid is 8 years old and was going to use an unknown horse to haul a huge railroad tie out of a gulch).  When he failed (and got mildly injured) to get the tie out of the gulch before dark, he went home to confess to his mother.  She makes him stand in the corner (missing dinner) until his father gets home.  Here is the interchange between Ralph and his father when Father returned home.

Hard as Father could spank, he never hurt me so much with his stick as he did when Mother stopped talking.  He cleared his throat and didn’t make a sound for at least two full minutes.  When he spoke, his voice was deep and dry.  “Son, there is no question but what the thing you have done today deserves severe punishment.  You might have killed yourself or the horse, but much worse than that, you have injured your own character.  A man’s character is like a house.  If he tears boards off his house and burns them to keep himself warm and comfortable, his house soon becomes a ruin.  If he tells lies to be able to do the things he shouldn’t do but wants to, his character will soon become a ruin.  A man with a ruined character is a shame on the face of the earth.”
He waited until his words had plenty of time to soak in, then he said, “I might give you a hard thrashing; if I did, you would possibly remember the thrashing longer than you would remember about the injury you have done to yourself.  I am not going to do it.  There were eighteen cross ties in the gulch yesterday, and the section foreman told me they were going to place twenty more.  Until you have dragged every one of those ties home, you will wear your Buster Brown suit (which had caused him to be bullied at school) to school, and I will not take you anywhere with me.”
It was a half mile from the house to the gulch.  Father showed me how to hook onto the ties with a chain, and how to pull them up through the head of the gulch.  By getting up early, I dragged one tie home each morning and two after school.  With a half dozen on Saturdays, I had the job done in a couple of weeks.

The book is full of stories about accountability, honesty and how to be a good neighbor.  It has prompted so many good discussions at our house and the kids are always eager for me to read them a chapter before bed at night.

The book is Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers by Ralph Moody.  It is a quick, easy read and he has several other books if you like this one.  All of them are about his family and their life growing up in Colorado and around the country.

Another favorite quote from the book:

There are only two kinds of men in this world: Honest men and dishonest men.  Any man who says the world owes him a living is dishonest.  The same God that made you and me made this earth.  And He planned it so that it would only yield up its wealth in exchange for the labor of man.  Any man who tries to share in that wealth without contributing the work of his brain or his hands is dishonest.

Don’t you just love the wisdome of this man, who probably had no higher than a 9th or 10th grade education?

I hope some of you check out this book (or series).
You can find it on Amazon (they even have it for your Kindle) or at your local library (although if you use the Columbine branch, you might have to wait for me to return my copy).  You might even be able to find it at your local book store (if you live in Colorado).

Happy reading!

For days 4 and 5 of Attitude of Gratitude hit the “older post” button or scroll down.

Gratitude: Day 6 (Book Review)

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