For a while now there’s been a commercial on television with a little boy saying his dad doesn’t wear a cape or can beam heat rays from his eyes or have super strength – but that his Dad is just “super.”
Just as I was blessed having two moms, so was I blessed having two dads.
My father began working in a coal mine at the age of 11. His job was to lead the mule that pulled cars loaded with coal out of the mine. The mules were blind because they lived their entire live underground. Dad said he received 25 cents every two weeks from his paycheck. The rest of the money he earned went to help support the family. Dad had two sisters and five brothers.
When the Great Depression hit, Dad, as many men did, wandered across America seeking work. He told of building bridges in Wisconsin. Most of the money he earned he sent home to help support his parents. He also said he found his way to the copper mine in Butte. Copper miners could always tell if a new worker had been a coal miner because coal miners had a different style lunch bucket than copper miners.
For 32 years, Dad worked in coal mines. Then all the mines in southeast Iowa closed. Dad was once again seeking work. He found it in a farm implement factory.
Dad was a hard worker. And a very wise man. I always thought he was years ahead of his time with some of his philosophies. Education was a high priority with Dad. He insisted no matter what it took, my brother and I would finish high school and, if possible, go on to college. The last full year I worked before getting married, Dad and I compared our year’s earnings. I had earned almost $1,000 more than he had. “See, girl,” he said, “that’s what an education can get you – better wages.”
Dad taught me to be independent, to learn how to take care of myself, to treat everyone fairly, to give an honest day’s work. He always said, “When a man hires you for eight hours of work, you give him eight hours. Not seven and a half. And if the job takes longer than eight hours, you stay until it’s finished.”
He taught me how to grow my own food, how to fish and hunt, how to provide for my family. He also taught me to laugh, to enjoy life, and to never turn away from someone in need, and to stand up for what was right.
My other Dad – my father-in-law – was a remarkable man. The first time I met him, he tested my wit and sense of humor. I passed his test and from that moment on he and I were fast friends.
When he and my mother-in-law brought me word of my mother’s death, he put his hand on my shoulder and said, “This is a hard time. I want you to remember we love you and are here to help you however we can to get through this.”
Both my dad and my father-in-law possessed many of the same qualities. Both had a strong work ethic. They both did whatever it took to provide for and protect their families. Both respected others and were respected in turn.
I learned a great deal from both these men. At times, when there is a family gathering, I find myself repeating their words to me and telling my children and grandchildren how good their lives can be if they follow in the footsteps of my two “super” dads.
Sandy Laumeyer is The Courier's Nashua correspondent.