When I was very young I slept in a basement bedroom shared by my oldest brother, Boyd. He often worked after school and on Saturdays helping my father who made his living as a building contractor. I think I was just a little jealous of Boyd because he always had some spending money.
Across the road from where we lived was the “White Spot.” The White Spot was not unlike a Dairy Queen. It had a walk-up window in front where you could order all kinds of ice cream products. Inside there was a long counter and booths where you could order food, restaurant-style. Owen and Trudy Frame were the proprietors and they were good friends of the family.
At night, after we were supposedly bedded down, Boyd would often give me fifty cents for himself and a quarter for me and then he would boost me through the basement window with instructions on what to purchase for him at the White Spot. At that time a quarter would buy a hamburger, a foot-long hotdog, a malt or an ice cream sundae. He would usually order a chocolate-marshmallow malt and a hamburger. With the quarter he gave to me I would be torn between ordering a foot-long hotdog or a hot fudge sundae.
In order to avoid being seen by our parents, I would slip around back of the garage and climb over the chain-link fence into the vacant lot next door before crossing the street. After making the purchases I would return by the same route.
One day while working with my father in the back yard, he brought to my attention how the chain-link fence had been mashed down behind the garage in a strategic place. He asked me if I knew how the fence had gotten that way. I just looked at it as if seeing it for the first time and replied, “Gosh, I don’t know.” He said no more about it.
Because my parents were good friends of the owners of the White Spot, I suspect now that he knew all along about my late-night escapades.
How many fences do we mash down as we go through life often trying to hide our “late night escapades”?
Once a month my parents met with others at their homes to study the scriptures. One evening while they were out, my younger brothers and I pulled a little folding bed up to the foot of the stairs that led into the basement. We had great fun diving off the stairs headfirst onto that little bed—until it quit bouncing as it had at first.
After a quick inspection we found that we had collapsed the aluminum legs that supported the springs and mattress. We quickly returned the bed to its place in a corner of the basement and piled it high with stuff hoping to hide the results of what we had done. Sooner or later our ill-advised sport was discovered and the appropriate discipline was meted out. Again, we had left the mark of our actions.
Today’s news reports overwhelm us with stories of people whose lives have been drastically changed overnight because someone discovered the marks of their improprieties in business, in their marriages or in other aspects of their personal lives.
We all leave our footprints, our markers if you will, as we go through life. Sooner or later we will be held to account. Hopefully, the accounting will not all be bad.
One evening my wife and I were invited by an old friend to dine at a fine restaurant. During the course of the meal a woman and her young daughter approached our table. Addressing me, the mother asked, “Were you the principal at Sierra Vista Elementary School?” I replied in the affirmative. “I want to thank you,” she said somewhat emotionally. “You made a big difference in my daughter’s life.”
“Wow!” I thought. I had no idea. And to this day, I don’t even remember having had the girl as a student. But somehow I had left my mark on her. I am just thankful that it was a positive mark. I hope and pray each day of my life that the markers I leave behind, unlike the mashed fences and broken beds of my youth, will result in something good.