I was born in the wilderness of Northern Wisconsin, in a log cabin, built by my grandfather, as a wedding gift for my parents, for $42. It measured 20′ wide, by 30′ long, and I slept in the corner of the kitchen in a child's antique, spool bed.
My dad was a school teacher, who taught in a number of one room schools throughout Northern Wisconsin, where many times he instructed the same students all the way from kindergarten through graduation in the twelfth grade. I was raised on “the farm.” My grandfather's eighty acre dairy farm, working like all the other “farm kids,” cleaning, milking, bailing hay, and driving tractors from the time I was tall enough to reach the pedals on the 1954 John Deere tractor. I also worked with my father in the woods, cutting and hauling pulp, and timber every summer, his summer vacations, just to make ends meet. I got to start using the chainsaw when I turned twelve.We never had a lot, but I can never remember myself, or my family wanting for anything. There was always good food on the table, and although my pants got pretty short sometimes, they were always clean, and patched.
Although at this point in my life, many may see me as being successful at my endeavors, and without knowing, assume that I had it easy, or that my road to success was nicely paved before me. Now, I never thought I had it bad, but the truth is, I didn't start out with anything, and I came from pretty humble beginnings. I had a mother, and father, a brother, and sister, grandparents, and dozens of cousins all around me while I was growing up. All of us were in the same boat, trying to make a living out of the ground, in the Northern Wisconsin fields and forests.
My whole family was all about hard work, a little rest, and then more hard work. There is no Saturday or Sunday, no holidays off for a farmer. I remember attending all the Memorial Day Services, Veterans Days, and Fourth of July Parades. Hell, everyone who was from my home land did the same thing. We all pledged allegiance, and sang the National Anthem, with our hand over our hearts, every time it was played.
My family respected this country, and what it stood for, what so many have given their lives for, and when it was their time, I had numerous aunts, uncles, brothers, and cousins who all wore the uniform in service of our country.
My father once told me that hard work was the only secret ingredient to success, and that most people just never learn that secret. My mother told me to, “Never expect anything, and that no one owes you anything,” but then she said, “There’s one thing, and only one thing, that you can expect from this country. Everything else has to be earned. The one thing that you will get from this country, is opportunity, and that opportunity does not exist in many other places. You can grow up to be something, or you can grow up to be nothing. The choice is yours, but you can never blame anything or anyone else but yourself if you don't succeed, and never forget to thank God for this country, if you do.”