I remain proud that I was a Boy Scout when growing up. After many years I also can look back on my years in military school at McCallie with fondness. The McCallie motto of Honor, Truth, and Duty has been as much a part of my being as Harvard's motto of Veritas (Truth). My years at Harvard were a time when our country seemed to be ripping apart at the seams, but I remain convinced that our country's foundations handled the challenge of the sixties and seventies without breaking and were stronger after all the turmoil.
It used to be a joke in our family that my mother would give a friend or family member almost anything that they asked for that she had. She was never one for letting things be stuffed away unused in the attic or even under-used somewhere in the house. She was always happy when useful homes were found for things in storage. Life was for living and accumulating stuff was not part of her plan for happiness. Mother was also not very forgiving about donations that were wasted. My father once gave the Mount Airy YMCA a $20,000 donation. They used the money for a parking lot and mother thought they could have done much more with the money. She never forgot or forgave them.
Considering my background, perhaps it is not too surprising that I became disenchanted with politics in the early seventies. It was a time of assassinations and Watergate. It was also a time when I felt like that I did not know myself. I took a chance and went off to Canada. With $6,000 from my mother, I bought a home and farm on the shores of the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia. My father helped with a few thousand for a farm tractor and some equipment and I went back to the land for three years. There were a few cows, two Labrador retrievers, tons of hay and lots of gardening. Of necessity I learned to do almost everything from copper plumbing to electrical wiring and building cabinets.
About two years into my back to the land experiment, I made a trip down to the states to help a college roommate get married just outside of Boston. From there I wandered down to Washington to visit a college friend. The trip to Washington convinced me I had made the right decision to move to Canada. After Washington I headed down to Mount Airy where my mother was living. With the help of a blind date, I was smitten and ended up marrying a wonderful North Carolina lady a few months latter. I convinced her to come back to Nova Scotia with me.
Once there is someone else in your life, it is impossible not to think about others. In 1974, my wife, our two retrievers, the tractor, several cats and all our belongings moved to a farm in Tay Creek, New Brunswick. There I learned almost everything I had not learned in Nova Scotia. While more cattle came first (eventually the herd numbered 200 Angus), the children showed up within a few years. Our three children had the most impact on my worldview. It is impossible to have children and not care about the world where they will grow up. With children you get involved with all sorts of things like Sunday school, Brownies, Cub Scouts, soccer, hockey, and even schools especially when they are threatened.
Our children in the end were what brought us back to the United States. Even after we moved off the farm to Halifax, Nova Scotia and I went to work for Apple, we still loved living in Canada. We had great friends and enjoyed the relative tranquility of Canada. I still remember the story of the one bank robbery that we had in the small town of Stanley that was near our farm. The bank robber came in and was told the safe was on a timer and he would have to wait for it to open. The teller asked him if he would like a cup of tea and being Canadian he said yes. The teller made the tea, called the RCMP, and after the robber finished his tea and left with the money, he was picked up on the one road that led out of town. We left Canada not because of Canada but because we thought our children would have better opportunities in the States.
We first moved to Columbia, Maryland, but quickly figured out that we needed a place closer to our roots so within a couple of years we were living on the side of a mountain in Roanoke, Virginia. There in the Roanoke Valley we found a great Presbyterian Church (to match my years in a Presbyterian military school), wonderful schools, and friends that still delight us. Still my Apple job was a pressure cooker and the little time that I had was often dedicated to family and staying sane. In 2000 my mother moved in with us in Roanoke and we became part of the sandwich generation.
By 2006, my mother had passed away and I was gone from Apple and its unethical culture. That year we found a new place to heal from the wounds of the corporate world. The Crystal Coast has been a dream place to be, and as the pressures of work eased up after my departure from Apple, I was able to start volunteering to help others on a consistent basis instead of just being a good Samaritan when I cleaned their driveways with a snowblower, helped dig graves, or pulled folks out of snow drifts. I learned a lot in my three years as a Presbyterian elder and still feel great peace from our church family. However, the last year of my three years as an HOA board member made me feel like I was back in the seventies. It has not made me want to move back to the cold winters of Canada.
While I am just as disenchanted with the problematic HOA board that took over from our team as I was with our government back in the days of Watergate, I do not feel as helpless. With the skills that I learned over many years, I know the problem can be fixed and it is just a matter of time before things will be back to normal. It will take work and a thick skin but with others standing shoulder to shoulder with me, the problem while troubling is manageable. Long ago I learned that you cannot let others hijack your institutions for their own benefit. There are times you have to stand for what you believe. I take great pleasure in knowing that many others are already standing with me and rooting for our success.
Much of what people seem to learn today is that everything goes especially if it makes their own tiny life better. Even when they make many others miserable in the process, it is justifiable because they benefit. The selfishness that drives many of these people makes no sense and I often wonder how they even sleep at night.
Only as people understand that promoting the greater good helps us all will we make true progress. Sacrificing a little of yourself for others is a grand American tradition that has been lost in much of the business culture of this country. We need to bring it back and refuse to elevate those whose only goal is success on the backs of others.
My Amazon author page has books that chronicle all parts of our journey including the fourth edition of our book, A Week at the Beach - The Emerald Isle Travel Guide.