Grace’s Dad and Ted Williams

(If the photos are small, try hitting F5 at the top of your keyboard.)

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Builders,

Just touching on Fatherhood once more, I share this photo of Grace’s Dad, Bob with The legendary Ted Williams. They were good friends, brought together by a common love of the outdoors. Although it is not often remembered, Ted Williams spent five years in the Marine Corps as an aviator, both in WWII and Korea. Williams is arguably the greatest Baseball player who ever lived.

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He was known for Baseball, but Williams was also a life long outdoorsman, passionate about fishing, particularly Salmon fishing. In the 1980’s Williams and Grace’s Dad worked tirelessly to protect the Atlantic Salmon fisheries, not just for the sportsmen, but also for the Canadians and their small towns on the Atlantic coast that had Salmon as a part of their culture and heritage. This successful defense included making a trip to Denmark to convince their government to restrict their fleet’s commercial fishing practices that were destructive to the long-term viability of Salmon

Above, Ted Williams sits in a Grumman F-9F in Korea. In WWII he was an instructor in F-4U Corsairs, and returned to the Marines to fly combat attack missions in Panthers. He was known as a fantastic pilot, praised by squadron mates like John Glenn.  What I find interesting about Williams was his ‘regular guy’ approach to life. He did not want, nor need to be praised nor adored. He didn’t want celebrity, he wanted respect. Everything Grace’s dad has shared confirms this. There was a reality to guys like Ted Williams. Consider that he was paid $30K in 1942, when minimum wage was .30/hr. or  600/yr. The ratio is 50 to 1. Today, min. wage is $7.25 and Alex Rodriguez is paid $29 million a year, a ratio of 2000 to 1.  Rodriguez is a ‘celebrity’, a liar, steroid abuser, and serving the longest suspension in the history of Baseball; and I highly doubt anyone would ever mistake him for a ‘regular guy.’

Above, a 2006 photo of Grace and her Dad shooting  an hour’s worth of practice with pump shotguns in our back yard. Although he is 80 now, he remains a crack shot with the Winchester model 12 he has owned since he was a teenager. Bob has covered most types of game, but he largely focused on fowl and fly fishing. He is an excellent cook, and as a traditionalist and conservationist, he consumed all the game he took. Graces parents spent many years in the Canadian Maritimes,  and Grace herself is named for a Native Canadian woman. Many of her families fondest memories are from that time and place.

My Father in law is from an era of American men that chose the outdoors as their ‘Arena’, just as TR did. These men put many years of patient study and intense awareness into perfecting their field craft. This focus and pursuit has direct parallels to the mastery of being a ‘stick and rudder pilot.’ They both take considerable investment, not of money, but of the willpower to focus on the moment at hand without distraction, to study to subtitle differences between acceptable and better.

This weekend, a person will ride a 4 wheeler to a prepared blind and read emails until a baited animal gets 40 yards away, where they will get off a poorly placed shot with a scoped rifle. There will be the obligatory Face Book picture, another box in life checked off to impress others who are not paying attention. They will have gone to great material expense to make sure it was an empty experience.

This weekend, a person will drive a car to the local FBO, rent a 912 rotax powered S-LSA, and read emails until the CFI gets the plane ready. They will talk on the radio and look at the GPS to get to the ‘practice area’ 40 miles away, where they will get off a few poorly coordinated maneuvers before calling the tower to return.  There will be the obligatory Face Book picture, another box in life checked off to impress others who are not paying attention. They will have gone to great material expense to make sure it was an empty experience.

Will either of these people understand that they cheated themselves out of the experience? Probably not; the modern ‘hurry up and rush’, ‘multitask mentality’ people rarely have this awakening. Being an outdoorsman or an Aviator only pay real rewards to those willing to invest something of themselves, not just money. As a homebuilder, by definition you have selected the path which requires greater investment of yourself.  I have found that people who understand and choose to make this investment lead richer lives and make far better company. I have spent many fine hours in my Father in law’s company. He is possesses the kind of insights that you never find in people who are in a shallow rush to check the next box.-ww.