My husband Bob started working for his Dad at age nine at his Dad’s automotive garage. Bob had a very serious hearing impairment that came to surface at age four. This made it hard for him to communicate and learn what his Dad was trying to teach him about running a garage. At times they both got quite frustrated! Bob did not let his handicap or the harshness of his Dad’s discipline destroy his spirit. Though he went through a period of rebellion he still turned out to be a very responsible, loyal, loving, compassionate, and decent human being.
When Bob was growing up hearing aides were large and clumsy so Bob was made fun of a lot in school. However, Bob had a way with people along with a great sense of humor, and, easily won over the love and admiration of his fellow classmates and the customers at his Dad’s garage. He learned to read lips very well at an early age. When Bob first started working at the garage after school and on the weekends, he mostly swept the floors, took the trash out and washed windows.
Bob’s Dad was very strict, and, at times used excessive physical punishment, which undoubtedly was what was used on him when he was a child. Bob’s Dad thought that this type of upbringing was necessary to teach Bob good work ethics. However, he did not understand the value of play in a child’s life.
Even at the age of nine, Bob’s Dad would leave him with a co-worker to make him feel more confident and learn to take charge. Bob felt at that time, largely due to being forced to work at such an early age that taking over his Dad’s station was not for him.
Bob often turned to his Mom for love and advice. She is a very godly woman who always pointed Bob to the Bible for answers. Now that she is in the nursing home with Alzheimer’s, Bob misses those long talks they used to have, and, the warm summer nights they shared sitting on the porch swing.
Bob started pumping gas and taking care of customers at the age of 16. He also took inventory, did some paperwork, and, watched the station while his Dad was away.
Bob witnessed his first robbery
At the age of 17, Bob witnessed his first gas station robbery! Bob was sitting in the office looking over some paperwork. Suddenly out of nowhere, he was approached by masked robbers with a 30 caliper handgun. They demanded Bob give them whatever money he had inside his shirt pocket that he used to make change for the customers. It was very quick thinking on Bob’s part to tell the robbers that he did not know how to open the safe. They proceeded to try to take Bob around back to beat him up or kill him.
Bob’s prayers saved him!
Instead, due to prayer on Bob’s part, they decided to take him to the stockroom! They left him there because it was locked, and, they thought that Bob could not get out. After they left, Bob reached down the bottom of the door and hit a switch which enabled him to open the door. Bob then proceeded to call the police.
Bob is convinced that God saved his life by tricking these men into thinking that there was no way to unlock the stockroom door from the inside. Bob has had other close brushes with death and he is convinced the Lord intervened on his behalf.
After the robbery, Bob’s Dad bought a Doberman to protect Bob and the station.
The Doberman saved the day!
Bob recalls another incident where he had his Doberman, Shawn, on a long chain next to the tool drawers by the work bench, when three suspicious “would be robbers” walked into the garage. One man paid Bob for something very small, but, his partner tried to walk away with a can of STP oil treatment. Suddenly, Shawn started barking and jumping at least 8 feet off the ground. They left the unpaid for merchandise and ran. Apparently Shawn must have felt something was wrong by Bob’s demeanor. Bob has always had a very unique way with animals. They seem to detect a need on Bob’s part and give him their undying loyalty.
Bob was finally put on the payroll when he turned 16. Bob had a hard time always working because he wanted to be able to have a social life. So one could say that Bob’s childhood, and, teenage years were stolen from him. If Bob wanted the day off, he would have to notify his Dad ahead of time. Even after notifying his Dad, he would still try to keep Bob from having that day off. His Dad believed in all work and no play!
As Bob got older and needed much tutoring with his school work, due to his hearing problem, he still spent most of his time working at his Dad’s garage. Since he was considered to be on a “work program” the school did not address his special needs brought about from his hearing loss.
When Bob was 18, he was able to purchase his own car. He left home at the age of 19 because he and his Dad could not see eye to eye. Bob went through a period of rebelling after leaving home, due to his strict childhood upbringing but I believe that it was those long talks with his Mom that brought him back to the Lord. Bob ended up working in the same factory for 30 years, which to me is a testimony of his dedication and strength of character. However, he does admit that he would have wanted to take over his Dad’s garage after his Dad’s death, but, did not have the money to purchase the lease.
Bob is a very devoted, loyal, and loving father, and, husband. His daughter loves him unconditionally, and, is also a very loving, forgiving and Godly woman. Bob was very blessed to have a very loving Mom who knew how to incorporate the Bible into her everyday life to give her strength, wisdom and courage. I feel that she had a strong impact on instilling the good personality traits that I see in Bob.
Resources: My husband Bob and I