I grew up in Miami, Florida. Dad was district Manager of Life and Casualty Insurance Company of Nashville, Tennessee. At the time, I was in high school and dating a beautiful girl from Hialeah, the city just northwest of Miami.
Dad was to be gone for a full week of conference and mother would be along for a mini-vacation. Mother was born in Nashville and it would afford her time to visit her loved ones.
The old saying was new to me that “it’s easier to get forgiveness than to get permission.” I made the mistake in asking Dad, “Could I use the car to take Ann to church on Sunday?” The ’39 Ford was Dad’s one and only favorite car and the answer was a stern and ABSOLUTE “NO!”
Now that posed a serious problem. I had already told Ann I would come and take her to the service. Now it was either Ann or Dad who said “Don’t take the car out of the garage”.
No contest. How could I go get Ann in the car if I didn’t take it out of the garage? Dad was gone and the die was cast as I swung the garage doors open. Fifteen miles later I parked the car in front of her house. No only would I take her to church but think of the impression I would leave on her Mother. I put her on my arm, opened the door for her, closed it quietly and got into the driver’s seat. I looked like an ace pilot as I check out all the instruments.
The engine came to a smooth purr; I waved at Mom, shoved it in reverse and hit the gas. “BAM, WHAM, SLAM, D—” I hit the telephone pole squarely in the middle of the rear with such force, it folded the bumper, trunk and all into a perfect ‘V’. I reviewed the damage, slumped in the seat, red faced and drove away with extra care and a heavy heart.
I was working that summer for the White Swan laundry. I said to the boss, “I’m in bad trouble and I need to pull two shifts a day for extra money.” This was in the summer of 1945. On Friday I paid the bill in cash ($35.65 cents). The repair was perfect. By one o’clock the car was safely in the garage. Dad never knew and I never told him!!
A similar occurrence happened the following summer. A cookout was planned on the beautiful sands of Miami, Beach. This time I remembered the saying and didn’t file ‘a flight plan’ for the evening. The 75 mile round trip would have been have received a definite “NO”!! We went anyway. The sand was warm, the hotdogs hot and as night was falling, we returned to the car for the homeward trip. I reached for the keys and found nothing but a large hole in my front pocket. The keys were somewhere on the beach. We searched. It was impossible and we just sat down in desperation. Ann rubbed her hand through the sand, and bingo, found the keys.
We roared away from the curb and switched on the radio. Horns were blowing, people were shouting as the radio announced again and again, “VJ DAY”. We paraded down Flagler Street shouting, horns blowing, waving and acting the fool like all the others.
Again, Dad never asked, and I never told!
Now before any of you ‘jump my case’, just stop, and think back in your teenage years of some of the fool things you did. Remember the simple saying, “Dad never asked and you never told.” It reminded me of what Mrs. Paul Revere said on that fateful evening. “I don’t care who’s coming now, it’s MY NIGHT to use the horse!”
Two little boys were talking about church and one said, “There are two kinds of sins; the sins of commission and the sins of omission. The sins of commission is when you commit a sin you shouldn’t, and the sins of omission is when you don’t commit a sin that you should have.”
Old King Solomon wrote, “Remember now thy creator in the day of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shall say, I have no pleasure in them . . . But let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter; Fear god and keep his commandments for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:1, 13).
In my book called “FABLES FOR TODAY” I tell the story of a little boy who was very fond of dried apples. Mother would peal and hang them on long strings to dry in the attic. I didn’t touch them for there was a picture of an old man whose eyes were watching me all the time I was there. If only he wasn’t there I could dive right into those apples.
One day when Mother had gone visiting, I went to the attic and took a pair of scissors and scratched they eyes out of the old man in the picture. Then I took the apples and ate them.
Of course, in time, mother found out what I had done and gave me a lesson I will never forget. She said, “Jack, you can’t scratch the eyes out of God”.