My dad and mom were blessed with seven kids. During World War II, the family moved from Chattanooga to Detroit where dad built engines for the U.S. Army. With our big family we couldn’t afford to move out of the Fisher housing projects and into a rented flat until I was 15.
I remember our whole family listening to the Philco radio in the living room, glued to the adventures of the Lone Ranger, the Green Hornet and Fibber McGee and Molly. At the movies we could see two features, three cartoons and a newsreel for 8 cents.
Many things have changed since then, but quality is still quality. Just like my father, I don’t mind hard work and I love my family dearly. For me, quality comes from doing a job I love, using the best ingredients and giving my best effort to help make the best potato chips our company can.
Determination and dedication are the keys to success. It is the drive and work ethic my father taught me that keeps me focused and always looking for a way to be better at what I do. At the end of the day, I can rest knowing I’ve given my best.
Giving your best
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When I was a boy, my brother Bob and I would travel from Detroit to Tennessee to spend summers on my grandparents’ farm. The bus would drop us off at the end of a dirt road and Bob and I would walk the last eight miles to their old log house, dragging our suitcases behind us.
Grandma and Grandpa had chickens and cows and pigs. They didn't have electricity, running water, a furnace, or anything you might call a luxury.
But I remember they had a night sky so dark and clear that we could see a million stars. I remember cool spring water, tall green trees and endless rolling hills. I remember working hard and never, ever having a problem falling asleep at night when the work was done.
I think sometimes that maybe my grandparents lived their whole lives feeling the way I felt during those summers – unworried, unhurried and content. Perfectly, simply happy. That feeling didn’t come from the things they dreamed of having; it came from being thankful for what they already had.
Being thankful for what I have.
Valuing people above things.
Wanting less and giving more.
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On a warm summer day in 1954, I went fishing with Bill Hurst, my sister’s husband. Bill was more like a brother to me. We fished for about three hours without a bite, but then Bill got a bite that just about pulled him out of the boat. In what seemed like an hour he finally pulled out what looked like Moby Dick’s baby (in reality, it was a huge pike – a whopper). Just one bite and one fish, but it really made our day.
Bill had a new Ford Fairlane. It still smelled like new. He had put down a lot of newspaper in the trunk so as to not spoil his carpet with the recently caught fish. With the rods and reels in the backseat and the fish in the trunk, we drove home.
About a week and a half later Bill told me that he smelled something very bad in his new car. Sure enough, he thought I had taken the fish home and I thought he had taken it in. Instead of being cooked in Bill’s oven, Moby Dick’s baby got cooked in the trunk of his car.
Concentrating on the task at hand
Finishing the job
Doing the job right
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Summers back in the day were a great time of the year in Michigan, especially after a cold winter. As soon as it got warm my sister Frances’ husband Bill and I liked to go fishing in a lake that was stocked solid with perch and crappies.
One day we caught so many fish that we thought we might actually sink the boat.
We started back to shore and as we got closer Bill said, “Ray, throw me my car keys.” I was standing up in the front of the boat and he was sitting in the back and as the keys flew over his head he said “Blankety blank blank blankety blankety blank!”
I said, “I thought you would stand up to catch them.”
Would I dive into that deep cold water to find the car keys? Nope. Not now. Not ever. So Bill dove in. Time after time, he went down and came up with no keys.
As he climbed back into the boat Bill didn’t look good. “I’m going to have to hotwire the car,” he growled. He was really mad.
That was a long time ago. Bill, it’s time to forgive and forget. Your car keys, Ford ID badge and wedding band are gone. I am sorry!
But really Bill, you should have stood up.
Being aware of what is going on around us
Keeping our eyes and ears open
Choosing to do right before we are tempted