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52 Stories #24–Family Sayings

The men in our families often give us advice or correct our behavior. Sometimes we hear the same phrases over and over as we grow up.

I can recall a few from my childhood, all originating with or handed down by my father:

  1. My great-grandfather, Samuel Harvey Reed (1845-1928) told his children “You inherited a good name, now keep it that way.”
  2. My dad, a Navy veteran, often reminded us to keep our home and belongings in Ship Shape.
  3. My dad admonished us when he did not approve of our behavior. Many times he told us to “straighten up and fly right” when he caught us in wrongdoing or to “look alive” when we seemed lazy or slow-moving with an assigned task.
  4. When we faced major life decisions, my dad advised us to “think very carefully about what you do” although he rarely ventured an opinion about what we should decide. Making an exception when we embarked on careers, he suggested that we should work in private industry instead of government so as to make more money.

I had no direct advice from my either of my grandfathers. Owen Herbert Reed (1896-1935) died in a motor vehicle accident long before I was born, and even my dad barely remembered him. Bjarne K. Bentsen (1906-1986) lived in another state, and I did not know him very well. When I did see him, we talked mostly of current events.

Perhaps my own children and grandchildren have heard me repeat some of the sayings from my childhood. They say we raise our children the same way we were brought up. In my family, that meant finding one’s own way with little unsolicited advice from the previous generation.

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