Montgomery: Work Ethic


C.O. Montgomery

I have entitled this “Coffee House Rambling,” Work Ethic. Unfortunately, I am afraid that some in America have never had it or, perhaps due to circumstances beyond their control such as government subsidies some have.

However “Titans” of industry Elon Musk, Senator Tim Scott, Roger Penske, Karen Lynch, Rosalind Brewer and Weather-Tech’s, David MacNiel definitely exhibit work ethic.

Work ethic can also be exhibited in the field of athletics, such as my two grandsons. Zac plays football at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada. Brett has enrolled at Hanover University. He will also be playing football for them. Recently I saw a quote, “Small boys become big men through the influence of big men who care about small boys.”

Work ethic also abounds in our New Palestine Community. Recently, a friend of mine, Hancock County Commissioner Bill Spaulding, posted a thought-provoking Facebook post.

We all know about Facebook. One either loves it or hates it. Another friend of mine once said that Facebook is “intoxicating.” It is an easy anonymous forum in which you can argue with someone you probably don’t know. You then spend time, and sometimes days, trying to get your point across. Finally, you usually wind up getting “nasty,” and end up blocking each other. Trust me, Bill’s post did not go this path.

Bill was reminiscing about growing up in New Palestine, Indiana. Bill mentioned that he drove past some rather large straw bales. He then recalled how he spent a lot of dry summer days helping Gerald Lantz (a local farmer) and his family bale hay and straw. Bill went on to say Mr. Lantz had faith in a youngster. For you see, Mr. Lantz let him work at a ‘”stifling-hot” job. As life passed on, Mr. Lantz assigned Bill other jobs. At age 13 he was given the responsibility to operate important pieces of equipment, such as the baler.

I did not grow up on a farm. Oft times I wished I had. I did have uncles and cousins that were farmers. I often heard similar stories about the farmer’s wife bringing food and drink out to the field. Make no mistake back then, even as today, a famer’s job is tough. Thank God for them.

Bill concludes his post by saying, “Those were the days!” He also stated, “Thanks for giving me the farm experience and reinforcing growing work ethic.” Others commented that “good help” was hard to get back then. I maintain it still is.

Please allow me to share a similar view, albeit a “city kid’s” work ethic.

My story is similar to Bill’s. It is also not unique. I grew up in a “blue collar/working class neighborhood,” Fountain Square, roughly 4-5 miles south of Monument Circle. There were no cornfields, wheat fields, no hay to bale. But, I like many of my contemporaries, did similar “odd jobs.” Mine consisted of going door to door peddling anything from newspaper fliers to toiletries. (I think this is why I do not care too much for door-to-door salesmen). I quickly progressed to carrying newspapers. I carried newspapers all over the south side of Indianapolis. In those days you had to be “bonded” because you would collect the money also. I would usually start a route in February or March. I would then quit the route in November or early December. The bond money was then refunded in time for me to buy Christmas presents for the family.

Our Gerald Lantz came in the form of Lloyd Tucker. “Tuck” and his wife owned a local pharmacy. You knew you were on your way to “manhood” when “Tuck” hired you. After that, I moved on to working at various auto parts stores.

Like most kids of that day, you also managed to get other odd jobs. My two brothers-in-law worked in soft-drink route sales. I was able to help them.

You talk about work ethic? My motivation was purely economics. Gasoline was anywhere from 19 cents a gallon to a high of 31 cents. I needed the money to go visit my favorite girl. She later became my wife. She also motivated me. Similar to Bill Spaulding, my life has had many mentors.

I barely remember Gerald Lantz. But one thing I do know about the Lantz family, is that they were, and still are, a much-respected name in the New Palestine area. We are blessed to have many farm families still in our community, the Fouts, Marlin Corwin, Kerry Estes, Connors and the Cains. This city boy also had many great mentors in his life.

I firmly believe that good work ethic produces good community leaders. Bill went on to become one of the finest Indiana State Troopers that I have ever had the pleasure to know. What was his motivation? I am not sure, but more than likely it was also economics, and that intangible “driving force to succeed.” I still have a hand carved wooden plaque in my office, “Success comes before Work only in the Dictionary.” God instituted work ethic with creation.

Have many in America “lost” their work ethic? I perceive that many have. However, thank God many have not. Also, as God rises up a “Community” of BIG men through their influence to help Small boys, America will retain her work ethic.