Looking at Life Sunny Side Up

Most communities—all of ‘em, except a few so small that their coming in/going out city limit signs are nailed to the same post—are blessed by folks whose productive engines continue to chug.

They find joy in helping others, always have, always will. For some, the spring in their step could do with some oiling, but they push on.

A senior citizen friend grew up on a dry land farm, already a strapping youth when the Great Depression came along more than eighty years ago. “We had no clocks, and the sun was no gauge for our work days,” he says. “We worked from ‘can’ ‘til can’t’.” (He’s the same guy who claims he remembers the day the Depression ended. “I knew it was over when I saw a rabbit hopping down the road with nobody chasing it.)”

One man to whom “burnout” will never apply is Al Lock, a Fort Worth man whose interests are many and business pursuits varied. He’s eighty-four and firmly “hitched” to life’s most important commitments, one being to wife Druena for the past fifty-eight years.

After a thirty-year stint as an executive with Johns-Manville Corporation, he continued far-flung farming and ranching operations he checks on regularly.  He and two partners founded OFCO, a   firm selling office furniture from businesses and institutions that cease operations.

Lock has worked daily in the business for twenty-five years and still looks forward to Monday mornings. One salvage transaction back in 1988 bears repeating.

His firm purchased furnishings and miscellaneous items from Dallas’ Bishop College when the historically Black institution ceased operations.

Included in the purchase was a truck-load of trophies in all shapes and sizes. They denoted athletic triumphs, most the result of blood, sweat and tears.

Many were decades old, and Lock was saddened, realizing that the awards were important to figures of another era.  They meant nothing to OFCO customers, so they went the way of broken dreams and faded memories.

He still works daily and some nights as well. Much of the Locks’ night work is at their church.

In fact, they both teach there, but not in the traditional sense.

They teach “English as a Second Language,” largely to Hispanics – some of them advanced in years—who are seizing the chance to learn the predominant language of the U.S.

The Locks are also well-traveled, and for more than forty years skied the slopes of Utah, often several times yearly.

Another colorful friend is Dr. Joe Rushing, now ninety-one. He still dabbles in ranching near Lampasas and would likely win the trophy if they had a contest for stimulating conversationalists.

His interests are all over the charts, many of them already marked by “been there/done that” tags.

He’s a nationally-renowned educator who was founding president of Broward Community College in Florida and Tarrant County College in Fort Worth. An author, avid reader and scholar, he continues to take college-credit classes regularly at Texas A&M University-Central Texas.

And yes, the widower drives himself to class.

Although slowed a bit by back problems, he exercises three times weekly in a co-ed water aerobics class at nearby Burnet. (He’s the only male in the class, and has perfect attendance.)

Following a recent session at the pool, he attempted to renew his driver’s license, but there was a problem.

“The water left me with ‘prunish’ skin,” he joked. “And they said I had no fingerprints!”

He may well be the original “eternal optimist,” having always viewed life “sunny side up.”

A few days after his “futile fingerprinting,” the procedure went fine when his skin was dry.

“So, I gave no more thought to pursuing a life of crime,” he laughed.

These men realize they are greatly blessed, both in body and mind.  Their commitment is to push on, hoping to wear out rather than rust out.

They are among a diminishing core of Americans whose lives, values and outlooks were forged in the crucibles of difficult circumstances – the Great Depression and World War II.

Because of them, and others of their ilk, we remain free to pledge, sing, worship and “move about the country.” We can enjoy lemonade in big gulps. Guys like Lock and Rushing know what to do when lemons stack up.

Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com.

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