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Bottom Rung Educators

"Bottom Rung Educators" is this writer's title for the article filled with memories of how he came to view education.

By Phillip Coffey

I got my best education 'back behind the woodshed' or the fear of having to make a trek there. O.J.T (On the job training) is the deal. Walking the gently sloping hillsides as well as steeper slopes in youth and beyond taught me a-plenty. Per usual I often insert my personal heroes (Mom and Dad), other close relatives and also distant kin as well.

I could hear among the hardwood trees and the overly tilled fields of my long gone kin whispering -'You be kind, honest, respectful, truthful, help a feller or gal get up when they are down, swallow up that pride, discard all those grudges against whomever with passion; better not give your family a bad name.'

I worked among the uneducated and learned my values from them as well as, 'you better get an education because it sho' is hard doing what we have been doing all our lives.' These hard working people in my life that had been given 'the short end of the stick' were my impetus for getting some kind of higher education. Dad had almost no education except hard manual labor which included working in a cedar thicket and whatever to make a dollar or even less. (He made a total of five dollars from all his labor at home, placed it on the mantel above the fireplace and someone had the audacity to steal it. 'Hard times were always knocking on the cabin door - Stephen Foster).

'Ole Uncle Sam' called Dad to serve his country. He had little formal education (fourth grade), tough as a pine knot and then some and also a marksman. (Bad combination). Everyone(s) least favorite Uncle in wartime put him in the Infantry on the 'front row'. 'Isn't that grand'?

Dad was one of the most honest people I have ever known hands down but with a touch of hyperbole he said, "I would steal if I had another chance to get an education." He saw where the strong and uneducated were placed in peace and war. I knew if there was anyway I was going to get an education of some kind.

I did not want to be on the front line in war and the very bottom rung in life.

I saw what my parents and many other relatives had to do to scrape by to live on the lowest step of society. They Are/Were My Heroes. If they were still around I would give them a big group hug - 'gaur-en-teed'."

This story was posted on 2020-05-28 01:28:21
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