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Father taught his children great lessons

I have always been of fan of John Wayne movies, especially westerns.

One of my favorite Duke flicks is “The War Wagon.” I saw the movie when I was just a small boy and I really didn’t understand or remember much about it at the time, but I remember it was the first movie I ever saw when it was just me and my dad.

My dad, Emmett Walker, liked John Wayne and most cowboy movies. He also liked war movies and he loved to read history books about the subjects.

In recent years I found a DVD copy of “The War Wagon.” I watched it the other day and thought of my dad who died on Sunday.

John Wayne represented a lot of great things about this country that I appreciate, but my dad had those qualities and a lot more.

My dad was a good, honest, moral man. He was a great father to his 11 children and he worked very hard. He always believed that you did an honest days work for whatever you were paid because that’s what you agreed to do.

Of course, just because you work harder than someone else doesn’t guarantee anything. Life isn’t fair, but that shouldn’t change your work ethic.

My dad didn’t raise his voice much, but when he did, you stopped in fear and listened. He smiled often and never met a person he didn’t like, at least on the outside.

Although he seemed very gentle, he was the strong, silent type. He spent 25 years as a corrections officer at the Summit, Ky., prison. When he began, tower guards were equipped with rifles.

There was an attempted escape one day and my dad put a bullet through the inmate’s leg. The inmate didn’t know it was him for a long time, but when he found out he was upset with my dad.

The inmate did something he wasn’t supposed to be doing. He knew what could happen, but he did it anyway. My dad did what he was trained to do. It didn’t bother my dad that the inmate was upset with him. He was in the right. The inmate was blaming the messenger instead of the message.

I learned that lesson and I’ve been through it. Thanks to my dad, I can deal with it.

It has been said that I have been known on rare occasions to be somewhat of a smart aleck. It comes naturally. My dad was standing watch in the cafeteria when an inmate came through the line and asked my dad if he could have two pieces of cake.

My dad said, “OK,” and proceeded to take a knife and cut his cake in half.

Unlike my dad, I have always had a great obsession with sports while his interest was more of a casual passing. We could never talk X’s and O’s.

But what he gave me was even more important. He taught me to treat women in a gentlemanly manner. “You never hit a woman unless your life is in danger,” he said.

He gave me my faith in God and he lived it every day. Going to Mass on Sunday wasn’t an option. I can remember going to 6 a.m. in the mother’s chapel at St. Joseph because he had to work that day and we had only one car.

I didn’t even know there was a 6 a.m.

My dad and my mom, Rose, both worked hard to make sure we had food and clothing. We didn’t have a lot of extra things, but I have learned through the years how all those bells and whistles aren’t important.

It’s like the third Joyful Mystery of the rosary that celebrates the birth of Jesus. It was the most humble birth as Jesus showed that we should separate ourselves from worldly things.

It was a lesson not only taught but well-learned.

I think I’ll watch “The War Wagon” again.


Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.