I ran into Kim Hunter.
I was jogging down Tenth Street, lost in thought as my mind replayed a bare-knuckle fight I’d witnessed behind Frank’s Dairy Bar 60 years ago. I near ’bout collided with the big guy standing in the middle of the road!
Kim was smiling up at a giant tree he’d come to trim. I’m telling you, I’ve never seen this guy when he wasn’t smiling!
And you need to understand here, when I take off running – when I finally get my motor up to speed – unless there’s a heart attack, the earth stops rotating or a national disaster falls from the sky I don’t stop for anything or anybody.
Kim Hunter is not just anybody.
He’s one of the good guys. I have no idea how long we’ve known each other. But to my everlasting benefit, it’s been years now. He’s always friendly, upbeat, courteous and funny. And he seems to like me. ’Course, you spend five minutes with Kim Hunter and you’ll realize, he likes everybody!
We chatted about life, how we were doing and we collectively shook our heads at the recent, less than stellar, events currently headlining our national news.
I asked about his dad. I always do. As much as I like Kim, his father is even better! Here’s another five-minute rule. You spend 300 seconds with Mr. Hunter – sense his integrity, honesty, intelligence and goodness – and you’ll understand EXACTLY how and why Kim turned out like he did.
He didn’t have a choice!
Both of them will tell you what they think, believe and stand for in a heartbeat. But they do it with the utmost humility and respect for everyone involved.
Kim is a busy man. He returned to his tree. I cranked up the old legs and started on down the trail. But I’m telling you, my smile lingered long after the chainsaw faded, the morning much brighter…
And my mind drifted from bare-knuckles to another father. Dad didn’t teach as much as he expected you to look and learn. For sure he didn’t tell you twice! And he wanted, maybe demanded, a lot out of you. He’d yell when we started down a row of corn, “Turn those caps around backwards boys, I want you pulling so fast I can’t tell if you’re coming or going!”
But if he saw you were really struggling, he’d slow the whole world down for you.
I could easily picture Mr. Hunter doing the same thing.
Dad didn’t teach us to be fair, he was just fair. It was the same with honesty.
He didn’t lecture us on caring for other people’s rights or property; he borrowed a gas lawnmower. I don’t remember what shape it came to us in. But I know how Dad returned it. We washed it, carefully, getting every speck of grass, dirt and grime off that thing! He sharpened the blade, changed the oil and filled it up with gas. We all walked down the street and thanked Mr. Brooks.
Every time Mr. Brooks ran into me for the next six summers he’d say, “Son, if ya’ll need to borrow the lawnmower, it’s in the shed behind the garage.”
Dad didn’t believe necessarily in corporal punishment. He simply felt an obligation to, and a responsibility for, my upbringing. I be-bopped into the house one evening after hitting the game winning homerun as a SOPHOMORE in high school… You can’t believe how good I was! Even the seniors patted ME on the back. I might be the best of all time!
I was strutting through the kitchen and spied the cauliflower on the table. Come on now… I just won the game! Hometown hero! I kinda mumbled under my breath that I wasn’t eating that stuff. I froze in the hall when I heard the angry scrape of Dad’s chair backing up on the vinyl floor. Surely he’s not going to whip me. I just turned 15 —
He picked me up on my tiptoes and whipped the dickens out of me! He shelled down the corn on my backside for what I reckoned to be an hour and a half. When he finished he said, “Son, you don’t have to eat it, but you’re not going to ‘throw off’ on your Mother’s cooking.”
Turned out it was more like 14 seconds. And as for my humility, respect for others, and just common sense about life, people, happenings and general attitude – it was the most important 15 seconds of my life!
Folks, groups, individuals and different parties today throw up their hands in despair over the seeming inability of our nation to cope with the problems that besiege us on every front.
I believe with all my heart fathers like Mr. Hunter and Dad had the correct solution years ago…
This article originally appeared on The Star: Hunker Down: You talk about Founding Fathers!