Lessons Learned from My Father

Gail was a stay-at-home mom back in the fifties when that was the norm. Her husband, Clyde, worked long hours and wasn’t as involved in raising the six children. Again, that was the norm back then. Here’s a tribute that was written awhile back by their daughter, Virginia for her father shortly before his 84th birthday.

Lessons Learned from My Father

“My dad worked many years at grueling jobs making a living and supporting a family of six children. It wasn’t an easy life, but he persevered. The six of us grew up solid citizens who didn’t use drugs and applied ourselves successfully to our chosen endeavors.

His job meant he usually wasn’t there for a softball game, 4-H meeting, or a parent-teacher conference. That didn’t matter. We learned a lot from my father without his participation in those activities. Seeing how he conducted himself in different situations, and how he applied himself to his work set an example for all of us. Here are philosophies I learned from my father:

Do it yourself and save money. Dad could fix a car engine, milk a cow, skin a catfish, fix a frozen pipe under the house, assemble a bicycle from a mixture of parts, and hundreds of other skills. To this day, I look first at how can I do something myself before considering having someone else do it.

Work hard to get ahead. Dad rose through the ranks in oilfield work. From roughneck to driller to rig pusher to derrick man to pumper then finally production superintendent, he applied himself and moved ahead of those who just put in their time. His children learned to put their all into any job they had.

Clyde Martin and daughter Virginia Allain

Clyde Martin with his daughter, Virginia.

An education will pay for itself. Dad often talked proudly of his youngest brother who applied himself in school and won a full scholarship to MIT. It was easy to see the comparison between his brother flying to California for computer troubleshooting and his own physically wearing and lower-paying job. I especially appreciate this message that resulted in my getting a master’s degree and a career as a librarian.

If you do something, do it well. Dad mastered many jobs and life skills. In retirement, he raised bumper crops in his garden and sold it at the farmer’s market. He taught himself to make bread and built a following of loyal customers. His children’s interests included building hot rod cars, bowling, performing, golfing, conducting pageants, writing, and dozens of other activities. In each case, they perfected their interest to a high level. Thanks, Dad, for instilling this principle in us.

Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without. Growing up during the depression, he learned a frugality that he never dropped, even in more prosperous times. Coffee grounds and vegetable parings recycled through the compost bin brought new life to his garden patch. I see myself practicing many daily economies that are throwbacks to such depression era lessons.

When you start something, stick with it. My father wouldn’t quit once he started something. Over sixty years of marriage is a testament to that. When his children tackled something, Dad’s example of persistence spurs us to keep going to complete the job.

lessons learned father clyde
These are some key lessons learned from my father. We often don’t express appreciation for these life lessons. I hope he can see some of these behaviors in his children and recognize the influence he’s had on all of us. My dad will be 84 in a few months. I’m still learning from him.”

This was previously posted on the Our Echo website.

One thought on “Lessons Learned from My Father

  1. These life lessons are the underpinning of success. How fortunate you were to have such a wonderful example growing up!
    My Dad was a lot like your Dad–we were both blessed.
    I love that photo of you with him.


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