February 26th, 1973: I got a little upset tonight, because some people by the name of (edited out), sent a card to dad that said "Good bye from all of us." Dad said they didn't mean it the way it sounded. These were people he traded with at the store, and he gives them pretty good deals. Outside of that, we just took it easy.
February 26th, 2013: I hate to edit. But I'm intentionally leaving out the name of the family who sent the card. They might still live in the area. Or have relatives. As dad noted, they didn't mean it the way it came across. They just didn't understand. Or know better. They lived south of town. The man may have been a hired hand on a farm. They weren't highly educated, and they didn't have a lot of money. I believe they had a big family.
I can't remember every detail about the card. But it was designed as a farewell card. A poor choice for a cancer patient. Dad might laugh now, and admire them for cutting to the chase. Inside were words something along the lines of "Good bye from all of us. The big of us, the small of us. The short of us, the tall of us. We all say good bye."
It upset mom more than dad. It sort of upset me. The fact that they cared to send a card was really what was important. Dad was beginning to receive a lot of cards and calls as the word spread about his condition. He'd sit at his spot at the kitchen table and open the mail each evening before supper.
Pittsfield is small. A little more than 4,000 people. Pike County? I"m not sure. But dad had built a good reputation, and had loyal customers, at the store. These people included. And dad didn't treat these people any differently than a doctor or attorney who shopped at the store either. It wasn't his style. He treated everyone the same, as far as I know. With respect and dignity. And he'd "work" with people who might have it tougher than others. Letting them extend payments. He was a good businessman. But he sincerely wanted to help. And maybe teach responsibility along the way.
One of my favorite "dad tales" is how he would let paper boys buy their bicycles on the payment plan. Just like people do cars now. It only applied to paper boys. We sold Schwinn bikes. The Cadillac of bicycles back then. The paper boys would come in, put a few dollars down, then pay off the bikes a dollar a week. A good bike was probably $50-$60 back then. Dad sold bikes, taught kids responsibility, and never got burned.
I'm sure dad "worked" with the family who sent the card. I'd heard their name before. Hard working people. Mom and dad always taught me to never look down at anyone. And I don't. I read that Art Rooney, the late owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, was said to have "Treated everyone the same. Whether it was the Pope, or a bum on the street." Mr. Rooney is in my "top five" favorite sports figures because of that. Dad was like that too.
Because of that, dad was beginning to hear from people, and learn that they cared about him too.