Everything Happens For A Reason — Part 2

From injury to Idaho
10

When we left off last month I had a bandaged foot with orders to stay off work for a week. It had only been less than two days and I’m already sitting there feeling sorry for myself, and trying to find some reason for this to happen.

Through his articles and books, Elmer Keith was directly responsible for inspiring John and family to move to Idaho.

New Job

I found out on Monday morning when Dot called me from her office to tell me “get down here and apply at the factory” since they were hiring. I soon was hired at a job making three times what I had been making. Now we could start a family of our own. If Dot had not left the keys in the apartment perhaps none of this would’ve happened.

The downside to my new job was I hated every minute. There had to be a better reason for winding up there besides financial. I dreaded going to work — was there really a reason for this? Had I taken the wrong fork in the road? Would I be spending the rest of my life working six nights a week in a tire factory and hoping someday to get enough seniority to actually work days? There had to be a reason. I was about to find out.

The only positive reason I could find was financial. I was now making enough money Dot could quit work, stay home and we could start a family of our own. We soon had a baby on the way.

The Voice

In the summer of 1960 we were sitting in church on a Sunday evening and I heard an audible voice — I could still hear in those days — however it would not have made any difference because this was a voice only for me. I do know God speaks to us in many ways — through other people, through His Word, through his beautiful creation and perhaps sometimes directly.

As I sat there I heard the voice say to me “I want you to teach.” It seemed strange as I was already helping Dot teach preschoolers in Sunday school but this wasn’t what the voice meant. “I want you to go to school and become a teacher.” Say what you will about this, I can only say it was definitely real to me. Now I had my reason for what had been happening. Now I knew why I was working nights. I did not hesitate, but rather drove 30 miles to Kent State University the next morning and registered for fall classes.

Classes

From the very beginning I did not like the classes. I hated my job but my work schedule allowed me to go to school full-time. It was a toss-up which I disliked the most — my factory job or college classes. Kent State required 192 hours to graduate, which figured out to 16 hours per quarter. I signed up for only nine hours the first quarter to see how it would go. I thought I had my reason but maybe I wasn’t quite sure.

That first quarter worked out pretty good because the excitement of having direction even, if I didn’t like the road I was traveling, helped carry me through. The second quarter I signed up for 17 hours and my so-called Advisor told me it was impossible, and I couldn’t take more than eight hours. I took this as a challenge and told him: “Just sign the card and get out of my way!” I took the 17 hours and made the Dean’s List with a grade point average of more than 3.6.

It was tough and many a night I had tears running down my face as I went to work. I was always tired, but Dot and I made it together. During this time we never went anywhere except church and grandma’s house. Dot had to take up a lot of slack doing things around the house as I was busy with work, school and trying to sleep whenever I could. There were times I didn’t remember driving to school. There were times when I looked at my notes and they didn’t make any sense.

John’s first article, “4 x 44 = FUN!!!” was written about the four .44 Magnums
which accompanied John, Diamond Dot and their kids during the move to Idaho.

Teaching At Last

In my last year I had to do 12 weeks of Student Teaching at a primarily black school. It turned out to be a wonderful experience with great kids and the supervising teacher was like a mother to me. I was always tired and there’s a definitely a reason we do things like this when we are young, but we made it! I got an “A” for my student teaching. When I graduated we had three young kids, were buying a house and we also had a brand-new 1965 Ford Station wagon for which I would soon have a most important reason.

I graduated on a Friday morning in March. I no sooner got home and there was a phone call asking me to come to work in a neighboring school district. I was hired immediately and started to work on Monday morning, teaching junior high mathematics. Now certainly everything would be great! Or would it? When I reported for work, I found out the previous teacher had been run out by the kids. I looked at them and said I was staying — I never had a problem with any of those kids for the rest of the year.

I held onto my factory job working the evening shift through the 2-1/2 months left in the school year and then through the summer. When September arrived, I was overjoyed to say goodbye to the factory job. The downside was financial — leaving the factory job and going to teaching, I had to take a 35% pay cut. Everything was looking good except for the money, however a fork in the road was about to arrive.

Go West Young Man

Ohio had been a great place to grow up when I was a kid, however things were not looking so bright as to where our kids would be going to school. I had been reading a lot of Elmer Keith and he was my inspiration to apply for a job in Idaho. I was hired over the phone, took another pay cut — this time 20% — to go from Ohio to Idaho. However, I’ve never regretted the move.

We hooked a U-Haul trailer to the Ford, folded down the back seats for the kids and headed for Idaho. We looked like a modern rendition of the Beverly Hillbillies. Elmer Keith had influenced me enough I had four .44 Magnum sixguns, two Rugers and two Smith & Wessons in the car. We spent the summer of 1967 — the first of 29 years teaching in Idaho — in the Payette National Forest and it was where I wrote my first article: “4 x 44 = FUN!!!” It was the beginning and now more than 53 years later, I can look back on over 3,000 articles and nine books. Yes, there is definitely a reason for everything.

The Lesson

As long as we live, there will be forks in the road. I have learned the best way to know which fork to choose is by making sure the four things most important to me all line up — Faith, Family, Friends and Firearms. I have been thoroughly blessed with an abundance of all four and I don’t want to think about what my life would’ve been if I only followed my own instincts instead of these guideposts.

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