Know who you are
Let me tell you about Jesse Coats, my father. He was a hard man that usually pointed out what you did wrong long before every
Do hard things
These treats served Dad well until the late 1960s. We had just moved from Memphis to take over my Grandfather’s chainsaw dealership in 1968. These were the Civil Rights years of separate bathrooms, separate waiting rooms, and separate schools. The freedom riders had come to town and the schools were about to be integrated.
One night the Ku Klux Klan came to see my father and told him not to extend credit to our black customers. Dad had to decide what was the right thing to do. Was it standing up for his fellow man or taking care of the business and us? His sense of responsibility was rushing through his head. He could agree to the Klan’s demands and no one would blame him. The business would continue to grow and we would be safe. If we refused, we would very likely find a cross lit on our front lawn and our place of business burn to the ground.
This is when I learned that there are certain decisions that must be made regardless of the consequences. Dad told the Klansmen that our black customers paid the bills just as well as our white customers and that he was proud to work with any honest man. Then he told them to get out of his shop. We would spend many nights afraid of what may happen and worry about when it would happen. As it were, they never lit a cross on our lawn, nor did they burn our place of business. It wasn’t until years later that I found out why.
The real quality of a person is displayed when no one sees