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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
We all can think back about people who greatly influenced our lives for the greater good during our formative or growing-up years. For some, it may have been a family member; for others, perhaps it was a neighbor or a very special school teacher who really imprinted your life for the better. Still others may share with us that it was a playmate, a peer, who had the greatest influence for good on your life.

I'd like to share my account with you folks, in hopes of stirring up some memories in your minds of your own very special childhood role model(s), so that ya'll can jump in and tell us about your own special and influential person from your childhood years.

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I'd have to say that one of my most influential childhood role models was a gentleman who lived just two doors down from our house in Memphis. His name was Dan Archer, and he was blessed with a lovely little Italian wife named Marjorie, and a beautiful dark-haired, brown-eyed daughter, Andrea.

Several months after I had received a new pair of sidewalk roller skates from Santa Claus on Christmas morning, 1955, I was blowin' and goin' down the sidewalk in a hotly-contested roller skate race with my buddy, whose name was Bill. As we neared the finish line on the sidewalk that had been clearly marked in chalk before the race, the right front wheel came off my right skate and went careening out into the neutral strip. I wasn't so fortunate to end up in the soft cushion of grass between the curb and the sidewalk.

I don't rightly know if I did a complete tumbling somersault or not, but I did take a rather memorable "crash and burn" on the sidewalk in front of Mr. Archer's house. Mr. Archer was watering his wife's flower bed and witnessed my spill on the concrete, so he dropped his hose and hurried to my aid. He took the red kerchief from around his neck and wrapped it around my bleeding right elbow.

"Boy, that's a pretty nasty tumble you took there, Harry! Looks as if one of the wheels came off your skate."

I choked back the urge to cry because the lovely, doe-eyed Andrea was now kneeling beside me with a look of compassion on her face. She was a year older than me, and I had a "big-time" secret crush on her.

I replied to her father: "Yes sir, a wheel did come off my skate and it looks like it is broken. I guess I won't be able to skate anymore with Andrea, Bonnie, Bill, and the rest of the kids. Can you fix my broken skate, sir?"

After a cursory inspection, Mr. Archer stated that the bearings were bad in the wayward wheel, and this is what had caused it to lock up and break off the roller skate. "I just might be able to take what's left of your set of skates and make you a real hum-dinger of a scooter if you would like for me to."

"What's a scooter?"
At the tender age of nine, I had no idea what a scooter was. I knew that no one on our street had ever owned a contraption called a scooter.

"Well now," Mr. Archer replied, "I guess I'll just have to make you one so you can see for yourself what a sidewalk scooter is. Go home and eat supper, and then come on back down here to my garage and we will see what we can do to get you back on wheels."

When I returned to my kind and gentle neighbor's house, he had already begun the wheeled project. He used 2X4's for the base and the upright portion of the scooter and he braced them together with shorter pieces of wood which he placed at an angle and secured them to the frame with long screws. He took the one good skate I had left and dismantled it and securely attached one set of wheels under the horizontal board for the front wheels and the other set of wheels for the rear scooter wheels.

For the handlebars, Mr. Archer used a section of scrap pipe with cut off pieces of old garden hose stuck on the ends of the pipe for handlebar grips; and he secured them to the upright portion of the apparatus. Then, he fished around in a bucket found an old rusty red reflector and nailed it onto the back of the scooter.

About that time, my mother hollered out the front door that it was time for me to come home and take my bath. Mr. Archer told me to run on home and take my bath. "There's one more thing I want to do to this scooter to really snazz it up; so you come on back down here tomorrow when you see me come home from work, and I'll have somethings that will really dress that scooter up and make it special."

The surprise that Mr. Archer had for me was a paper sack full of bottle caps which he had procured from the soft drink machine at his workplace. All the popular soft drinks of that era were represented by the bottle caps from Coca~Cola, Pepsi~Cola, Orange Crush, Grape Nehi, Dr. Pepper, Seven-up, Royal Crown, and Double Cola.

When I inquired as to what we were going to do with them, Mr. Archer smiled and said: "Well, for starters, we're going to sort out all the Orange Crush caps and nail them all across the front of the bottom board of the scooter for decorations; and then you can just decide which ones you want to use to decorate each side of the base and which ones you wish to use on the upright portion of the scooter".

All the hammering and nailing brought out the inquisitive kids from our neighborhood; and pretty soon, at the recommendation of Mr. Archer, the bottle cap decorating task became a community event where we all took turns nailing our own unique bottle cap patterns on the front and sides of the scooter. Upon completion of the task, we stood the scooter up against Mrs. Archer's graceful old Mimosa tree and backed away to admire our handiwork. The sunlight glistened as it reflected off the myriad of shiny bottle caps.

"Wow!" said Sandy, "that's just about the neatest thing I've ever seen in my whole life!" (Sandy was six-years-old.):D

Mr. Archer broke the spell by telling us that he now wanted to give us all a bit of instruction on how to operate the vehicle. After that, he suggested that I take the first ride on the bottle-cap scooter, since it was mine.

I placed my left foot on the running board and my rignt foot on the ground, as he had instructed us to do, and began to gain speed as I pushed faster and faster against the sidewalk with my Keds-shod foot! Every kid on the street who was old enough to ride a bike was afforded the opportunity to learn how to ride the scooter; and ride it we did, taking turns until our mothers began calling us inside for our evening baths.

As the kids began to shuffle off, reluctantly, to their respective homes and bathtubs, I went over to Mr. Archer and hugged him around the waist and thanked him for what would be, for a long time to come, the most uniquely decorated kid's vehicle in the neighborhood. "I am so glad that your are my friend, sir!"

Mr. Archer teared up and hugged me back and said: "You are very welcome, Harry. I am glad that you like it. Now, run along home and get your bath before momma comes down here and drags you home by the ear."


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Honestly, I could write a book about this humble gentleman named Dan Archer; as there were countless other times he took the time out of his life to mentor me and the other children who lived on our street by demonstrating to us through his own life: compassion, mercy, kindness, creativity, resourcefulness, cooperation, working well with others, generosity and sharing what you have with others.

The things that Mr. Archer taught me have, no doubt in my mind, helped me all these years to stay on the straight and narrow path in life that my beloved parents and grandparents set me on when I was a mere lad.

********************
Now, folks, it's your turn. :biggrin:
 

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Beautiful story Harry! There are good people in this world, like your Mr. Archer. From my tme here in the forum, and reading your posts, I had already come to the conclusion that you are one of those people...:) I would really have to think about who was a role model to me growing up. Thanks for posting!
 

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Great story Harry as usual you give us all something to think and reminisce upon. Thank you!
 
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Lovely story Harry! Shame there are not more Mr. Archers around.

When I went to boarding school and was 13 my English teacher was a gentleman named Mr....yes English! We called him "Igor" He walked lopsidely stooped over, very pronounced limp, face just wasn't right, nose flattened so it almost wasn't there.
During an after school detention with him he asked me why I was playing up in class. Did I have a problem. So I poured my heart out to him. My Mother had died the previous year, my elder brother who "looked after" me had graduated, I felt alone and overwhelmed.
We talked for all of the detention. He told me why he walked funny and looked so ugly.
When Singapore surrendered, he and his wife were taken prisoner, He was an Army Captain. He never saw his wife again. He was tortured by his captors including having 2 ribs torn out with a crowbar, beaten with clubs etc etc. When he was returned to the rest of the captives he was "repaired" by an Army doctor with very few tools and no anasthetic.
He taught me that no matter the problems or the pain there is always a way out and a better road ahead.
We had many talks after that...not in detention!
God Bless you Mr. English and THANK YOU!
 

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Thanks for posting Harry, you sure know how to drum up the memories. :)

For me, it was my Grandfather. I don't have Harry's writing skills, but there is no doubt that I could write a book on him.

The endless number of things he taught me, are with me today. Of course, my dad also, instilled the word integrity in my brain.

I remember saying goodbye to my dad at the airport when I left for basic training. He said "son, always remember, your word is you gold, that's what you have".
 

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Harry -you are a blessing to everyone on TA!! It must be divine inspiration that gets you started on these ideas to bring happy memories to the forefront of our minds to help soothe us in these troubled times. I thank you!! Reflecting back, I had several teachers that I really admired, an "aunt" who encouraged my love of reading but was taken too quickly from this world, a true aunt who was my safe port when things got stormy in the house I grew up in, and Red Skelton. I loved Red as an actor, as a person, as a humanitarian. I even found out a few years ago that DH also loved him (great minds think alike, don'cha know:)). So as Red would say at the end of each program, "May God Bless".
 

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My movie star hero was of course, John Wayne!
 

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Mine was my maternal Grandfather. My parents were divorced when I was three, and my father was absent until I was in High School. My brother and I would spend our summers at our grandparent's place in rural coastal North Carolina where they retired. It was a great place. It was on the water and he had a dock where he kept his boat. It was a 25' fishing boat with a small cabin, a flying bridge, outriggers, and a big inboard Chrysler diesel V8. We could get offshore pretty quick.

Spending my summers there was a great benefit to me, and to my Grandfather. Due to the size of the boat it was virtually impossible for him to take the boat out by himself, and my Grandmother wouldn't allow it as she felt it was unsafe. He would occasionally take a neighbor, but it was often hard for him to find somebody to go with him. The boat was ready to go by the time we arrived and we went out 2-3 times a week all summer. My mother was an only child, and my Grandfather was glad to have a couple of boys around for entertainment.

We caught more Bluefish and Spanish Mackerel than we could ever eat. We'd clean all our fish and freeze a few for ourselves, then he'd wrap the surplus in butcher paper and dispatch us to the neighbors to distribute our catch. By the end of the summer we had all the neighbor's freezers stocked with enough fish to last until the next summer. Many of the neighbors had large vegetable gardens, and would reciprocate my Grandfather's kindness by delivering fresh produce to my Grandmother. I learned a lot about community while I was there.

Grandfather was a bit of a stickler for rules, especially when it came to the boat and it's operation. There's a certain etiquette that's expected on the water. One day we were out fishing, just at the mouth of the bay heading out to the ocean. A speed boat moving really fast came up on our stern, and got way too close before he swerved around us. As he went by, I noticed one of our port side fishing lines was following the boat. My brother was taking his turn up on the flying bridge (we fought over that constantly) and my Grandfather was standing next to me. I let out a holler about the line, and he let out an expletive, then he did something I didn't get, until later. He went for the reel on the affected line and released the drag. I don't know how many hundreds of feet of line were on that big Penn reel, but the speed boat got all of it.

About 20 minutes later we come upon the speedboat, dead in the water. It's outboard was up with the prop out of the water. Not that you could actually see the prop with all the fishing line tangled in it. My Grandfather just said "wave at the nice people boys" as we cruised past. We laughed for about 10 minutes, then he let us have a beer (what happens on the boat, stays on the boat) and we went back to fishing after he called the Coast Guard and gave them the speedboat's position.
 

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It would have to be my Step-Father. My dad died when I was 12. He was a chronic alcoholic, and when on a binge, was not a nice person. When he was sober, he was ok, but I've used him as a model of how NOT to be a Dad. I had three brothers and three sisters, all younger than I. My Mom met my Step-Father at an AA meeting that my Mom and real Dad attended in one of my Dad's few long term bouts with sobriety. My Step-Father (Herb) was struggling with the same demon as my Dad. But Herb was a stonger person and was winning. My Dad died on a cold November evening. Ostensibly of a heart attack, but I found out in early adulthood that it was actually alcohol poisoning. About a year later, my Mom and Herb started seeing each other and a year later, they were married. It takes a man with a lot of guts to marry a widow with seven kids. But guts he had, and he never took a drink from 3 years before he married my Mom and the day he died nearly 30 years later. I could fill a book with stories of his gentle courage and spirit and the way he loved my brothers and sisters and me like his own children (3). At one time, there were 8 kids under the same roof, all in school, and we only had one bathroom. But Herb, through example, taught us all to be good parents. I think of him every day, and give him credit for being me being a good and caring father.
 

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DB​- great story about your step dad, Herb!! Thanks for sharing!
 
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Thanks for sharing, my childhood role models are of a different sort.

The people who influenced me the most were the drunks, abusers, and not so honest people I grew up around. They showed me a way of life I knew I did not want to follow. They had the biggest impact on who I am today.

My scout master was a positive influence on my life, he never gave up on anyone and I learned a lot from him.
 

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My parents and grandparents were all big role models in my life, but I've always tried to learn something from everyone I come in contact with.

My Grandpa Demuth was a man with an eighth grade education. I learned a lot of my work ethic from him and credit my ability to fix just about anything I try to fix to him. He worked for the Ford plant in Memphis (road a mule to work here), ran his own grocery store (in the Mt. Pisgah Rd area) and then wound up as the maintenance man at a private school in German Town I think. He was a self taught locksmith and jack of all trades. He always called me Bryant not Brian because an old friend of his was Mr. Bryant. This always made mom furious, but I thought it was funny.

One of his stories that always stuck with me and taught me how to go on a job interview (Dress a little nicer than the job will require you to dress on a daily basis, but don't over dress). One of his first jobs he went to get he had dressed up in a good suit and fancy shoes and the boss told him to get some work clothes.
 

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Easy one; my Father. Not only was he blessed with an abundance of common sense, but a "BS" detector better than any LEO, a kind heart, and enormous physical strength.

He had the ability to "Jerry Rig" (you boys from the South notice how I cleaned that one up to PC levels?) or repair "Anything" better than "Mac Gyver".

People from all walks of life would bring "Niney" (his Nick Name) their malfunctioning "whazit" they couldn't afford to repair and he'd quickly get it back in proper working order.

He had more good one liner colloquialisms on life and living to share than Theodore Roosevelt. Two days after I returned home from Viet Nam he died of a heart attack. I miss him to this day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Beautiful story Harry! There are good people in this world, like your Mr. Archer. From my tme here in the forum, and reading your posts, I had already come to the conclusion that you are one of those people...:) I would really have to think about who was a role model to me growing up. Thanks for posting!
That's very kind of you, ice.

Now that you've had enough time to think about it :icon_ poke:, let's "hear" your role model story.:D
 
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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Lovely story Harry! Shame there are not more Mr. Archers around.

When I went to boarding school and was 13 my English teacher was a gentleman named Mr....yes English! We called him "Igor" He walked lopsidely stooped over, very pronounced limp, face just wasn't right, nose flattened so it almost wasn't there.
During an after school detention with him he asked me why I was playing up in class. Did I have a problem. So I poured my heart out to him. My Mother had died the previous year, my elder brother who "looked after" me had graduated, I felt alone and overwhelmed.
We talked for all of the detention. He told me why he walked funny and looked so ugly.
When Singapore surrendered, he and his wife were taken prisoner, He was an Army Captain. He never saw his wife again. He was tortured by his captors including having 2 ribs torn out with a crowbar, beaten with clubs etc etc. When he was returned to the rest of the captives he was "repaired" by an Army doctor with very few tools and no anasthetic.
He taught me that no matter the problems or the pain there is always a way out and a better road ahead.
We had many talks after that...not in detention!
God Bless you Mr. English and THANK YOU!
I appreciate your sharing this interesting and inspiring account with us, Rod.

There were many men during that era who dealt with debilitating physical disabilities they received during World War II and the Korean War, and the unimaginable mental "battlefield scars" on their hearts and minds which they had to carry for the remainder of their lives.

Thank God that Mr. English had the grit, courage, and intestinal fortitude to survive his terrible ordeals, and was the kind of man who knew how to share with others the benefit of being able to overcome life's ills and sorrows...and to look ahead to a better day tomorrow.

Mr. English has helped me this morning to deal with an issue that has been troubling me for several days now. Thank you, Mr. English, and a tip of the proverbial hat to you, Rod, for introducing him to us.
 
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Well... I'm going to have to go with my Granny, who passed away when I was 10. She had cancer and had ended up in a wheelchair. There are pictures of her and I pre-wheelchair, but unfortunately I'm not blessed with any of these memories

As a small child, I'm told that whenever mom and dad needed to go somewhere, it was my granny who watched me, and if that wasn't possible, I screamed for whoever the lucky babysitter was ha!

As I grew older I can remember her playing cards and games with me, when of course she didn't really feel like it, and one of my best memories is the day I spent in the extra wheelchair that I got out of the garage. She probably wondered why I would want to spend the whole day in that wheelchair, but I know now, I was trying to be just like her...

What she taught me was to keep your head up, stay positive, even when the odds are stacked against you, and.... Love, Love, Love! I Try, Try Try to live my life this way, and I thank her for that.
 
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