The cold, nasty weather of the past few weeks reminded me of another early life lesson I learned from my father, Mel Hardy. When I was about ten years old, my father decided to purchase a used white Studebaker Lark to fix up. It was 1965, and this particular Studebaker had a problem that many Studebakers eventually suffered – the floor boards had started to rust through. In fact, from my vantage point in the back seat, I could see the pavement running below my feet through the finger-sized holes that had already appeared.
As dangerous as this sounds, I didn’t feel threatened. In fact, for a ten year old boy it was kind of exciting – until winter hit. On one particular January trip, I was sitting in the back with my two sisters on the way to our grandmother’s house during a snow storm. The roads were so snow covered that there were only two thin ruts from the cars in front that you could see to drive. However, my father for some reason was not staying in the ruts and was driving off to the sides of the ruts, causing ice and snow to come up through the floor boards and into my face.
I finally had enough and yelled out, “Dad! Why aren’t you driving in the ruts! The snow is coming up through the floor!” When he realized what he was doing, he laughed and said, “Sorry, but I was trying to makes the path wider for the cars behind us. We should always try to make the way easier for others.”
At the time, I was more relieved that the snow barrage had stopped than I was concerned with the welfare of the other people behind us. But as I got older, I came to appreciate his belief that if we have the ability to help widen the path for other people, we should do it. It is a simple way to share our fire with others, but I still wonder to this day if his simple act of concern might have prevented someone getting stuck, or a bad accident, or even a death. When I think about his actions in that context, a little snow in the face was a small price to pay.