Years ago we had the good fortune of meeting a man who has set a wonderful example for just about everyone. He is very modest and it would embarrass him to even learn that I was writing about him. I remember some years back I told a newspaper reporter about him (she was doing a story of interesting people in the area) and he would not even see her to be interviewed.
Where we first lived when coming to this area, (only 7 miles from where we are now) he use to help a lot of people that he had known since his youth. City folks, who bought “second” homes in the area, heard about him. As a result, he ended up cutting grass and cleaning yards for more people than seemed possible to handle. Especially amazing because he was more than 70 years of age.
We knew Mr. C because he had just “always been around.” When we would be out of town on business and end up not being able to cut our grass in a timely fashion we would ask him for help. He always said, “Well, I’m very busy, but I’ll try to fit you in next week.” At first I would panic, because I took him at his word and thought to myself: our yard will be a jungle in a week. But ——he would always show within the next two days and get the job done.
I think now they call that “under promise” and “over deliver.” Makes the people on the other end really feel good. (Certainly the opposite of what takes place a lot now: Promise the world and deliver nothing.) A good business principle in any business, but much harder to do than talk about.
In his youth Mr. C worked as a menhaden fisherman aboard fishing boats where men pulled up nets teeming with menhanden fish by hand. Hauling up a heavy net could take 40 men as much as an hour or two of pulling and working together. The work was grueling, but this was one of the most profitable occupations for those in our area during the first half of the century, particularly for young black men.
He lost more than half of his right hand those many years ago while working the water.
Bill (my artist husband) was out watching wildlife at a favorite haunt this morning. Mr. C was on the way to a job, but stopped his truck to talk. He lamented to Bill, “It’s my birthday and nobody ever believes how old I am.”
He was 95 today. Happy Birthday Mr. C!