“Society’s lottery winners”. Clever, Mr. President. One might argue that to meet one of these “lottery winners” you need look no further than a mirror — preferably the filthy one you used in one of your recent selfie binges.
Instead, meet my recently deceased uncle John.
He grew up outside Nashville, TN in a small town you’d characterize as home of bitter clingers. It was a two parent household. The house itself was meager. They were not anywhere near well off.
John graduated high school and went into the Air Force. He didn’t fly planes. And he didn’t serve in a war. He was an enlisted man with a desk job. Along the way he met the love that would become his wife of more than 40 years. They left the Air Force and he took a foreman position at a trucking company.
Moves were frequent but largely among company terminals in the southeastern states. My uncle and his wife were interested in beginning a family and as such they wanted to put down roots and establish themselves somewhere.
They chose Atlanta. That’s where their leanest years occurred. Uncle John and a friend also decided to start a business.
Yes, Mr. President, they did build that. There were no handout programs to help them. No labor union thugs with lists of demands either. This was the late 1960s/early 1970s and they took a huge gamble selling industrial electrical batteries wholesale. In a sense they were ahead of their time.
Over time though, with a lot of hard work and sacrifice, what began in an Atlanta warehouse eventually expanded across the southeast. My uncle bought out his partner and continued working the business. He expanded into business to business tire sales just as rental car usage was becoming commonplace. And no, this wasn’t luck. It was a matter of paying attention to what consumers were buying and being able to help meet that need.
John moved into an ordinary neighborhood in an ordinary Atlanta suburb. He paid off his mortgage when he could, then did the same with the house next door and a vacant lot. The latter was intended for his children should any ever want or need a place to build a home. (it also served as a place for the family to ride their ATV’s). The former he acquired and hired a general contractor to join with his own home. Sounds unusual maybe but the homes were similar enough that it worked out.
As John grew older, the business was something he and his wife handed down to their kids. They took time to spend with each other, taking long-distance motorcycle trips and traveling the world. They loved Europe, motorcycling through Canada’s Yukon Province, and eastern Iowa.
Not too shabby for a man that grew up poor and never went to college. A man that worked hard and refused to quit trying.
Society’s lottery winners, Mr. President? Really?