Heroes

February 24, 2018

I’ll Believe It When I See It

Last week, I wrote about one of the challenges that I have as a lawyer, which is the failure of many of my clients to understand the nature and extent of the work I do for them. Much of what I do as an attorney is hidden from my clients.

When I represent a client on a personal injury case, if I’m able to get the case settled without having to file a lawsuit, it customarily takes from 18 to 22 months to conclude the case. If it becomes necessary to file a lawsuit, it can take up to five years from the date of the injury to get the case resolved.

During the time that I work on a client’s case, there is not much that I do that my client can see, touch, hear, smell, or taste. At the end of the case when I collect my fee, which can at times be substantial, I want my clients to understand the breadth and scope of the work that I performed for them. So what is it that I can do to help them understand the extent of the work that I do on their behalf?

From the beginning of time, man has been a visual creature. The serpent seduced Eve to bite into the apple in part because it was so visibly appealing. I suppose you could call the serpent the first advertising and marketing expert that ever existed. He crafted a compelling and irresistible message that enticed Eve to defy God.

After he described the apple as being beautiful, delicious, and life changing, he appealed to her pride by saying, “All you have to do is bite into it to be like God.” There is no doubt that the tree and its apples were beautiful and inviting to the eye. But it was her ability to actually see in her imagination the future that the serpent painted for her — a future that promised that she and Adam would have the same powers as their God — that convinced her to act.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the saying, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” That’s what Saint Thomas said after our Lord’s apostles reported to him that Jesus had risen from the dead. Our Lord later reprimanded him for his lack of faith and said, “Blessed are they who have not seen and have believed.” John 20:29

February 17, 2018

The Challenge of Being in a Service Business

Last month, on January 21, 2018, I celebrated the 35th anniversary of the opening my law practice. I graduated from law school in May 1982, and received my license to practice law in November 1982. Two months later, on January 21, 1983, I rented an office from an established Peoria attorney.

Nine years later (1992), I hired my first associate attorney. At that time, I was 35 years old. The attorney that I hired was 10 years younger than me, and had just graduated from law school.

At the time that I hired the attorney, I had an office manager, two full-time secretaries, a full-time receptionist, and a part-time secretary. Hiring an attorney was a big step for me, and I didn’t feel as though I knew enough about running a business to continue to move forward without some assistance.

The same year that I hired the attorney, I signed a contract with Gerber Business Development Corporation to provide me with coaching on how to properly run and grow my business. I had committed to paying the attorney a large salary and I didn’t want to make any catastrophic mistakes in managing and growing my law firm.

I found out about the Gerber company when I read a book that was written by its founder, Michael Gerber. The title of the book was, The E-Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It. What Gerber said in his book about small businesses in America hit a raw nerve with me.

I had previously represented several business clients who had done well for a while and then, for one reason or another, had made mistakes that caused their businesses to fail. I had also handled several bankruptcies for individuals who had failed in their own businesses. Many of the businessmen that Gerber wrote about in his book reminded me of my own clients and their failure to succeed in their businesses.

February 10, 2018

The Death of a Special Christ-Like Priest

Georgette and I met on August 4, 1978, when we were both 21 years old. We were married in June 1980, while I was on break from law school. Ten months later, in March 1981, we had our first child, Harry. I graduated from law school in May of the following year.

We moved back to Peoria during the summer of 1982. At that time, Georgette was pregnant with our second child, Anna. I started my law practice in January 1983, and Anna was born the following month. We had our third child, Maria, 13 months later, in March 1984. When Maria was born, I was 26 years old.

It was during this period of time that my mom and my sister Colleen started commenting about how I had become too serious and I needed to lighten up. Colleen is a year and a half younger than me, and of my eight sisters, she was the one I was closest to while we were growing up.

When my mom and sister told me that I had become too serious, I hadn’t realized that my behavior had changed from the young, carefree guy who liked to have a good time and tease other people to an older guy who felt overwhelmed by the burdens of life.

But I wasn’t bothered by their comments about my being too serious. To me, that was what responsible adults did — they grew up and did their best to care for and support their families. In some respects, my mom and my sister were correct. My newfound responsibilities made me feel overwhelmed. At times, I felt as though I was doing well just to keep my head above water. Georgette and I had three babies in three years — Maria was born on Harry’s third birthday — and I was doing my best to support my family while managing my law practice.

Now, more than 30 years later, Georgette and I have 13 grandchildren, with three more on the way. I’m still serious, but I’m having more fun now than I’ve had in years. I’ve given myself permission to lighten up and revert to my childhood when I’m around my grandchildren. Their parents sometimes get irritated with me because they think I get their children riled up too much. But that’s OK with me, because I’m finally able to do what my mom and my sister wanted me to do all those years ago.

February 3, 2018

A Dream & The Greatest Showman

I recently joined my wife and some of our children at a local theater to see the movie, The Greatest Showman. The movie is a musical about the life of P.T. Barnum. It begins when Barnum is a boy. He is the son of a poor tailor who does work for a wealthy man. The man looks down on Barnum and his father, because of their lower-class status.

Barnum is a fun-loving boy who is infatuated with the wealthy man’s daughter. The man knows that Barnum likes his daughter and makes it clear to Barnum that he’ll never be good enough for her. After that, the daughter is sent to finishing school for several years. While she is away at school, she and Barnum continue to keep in contact by writing letters to each other.

Years later, when the daughter returns home from school, she is reunited with Barnum. They end up getting married and starting a family. After borrowing money from a local bank, Barnum buys an old museum building in downtown Manhattan. He then sets up Barnum’s American Museum, which showcases wax figures.

After struggling to make his new business work, Barnum’s children tell him that instead of featuring wax figures, he needs to have characters who are “alive.” Barnum likes the idea and begins searching for and hiring “freaks” to serve as performers. As he is rounding up his new cast of characters, Barnum sings the unique and mesmerizing song, Come Alive.

As Barnum’s new show gains popularity in New York, a reporter for the New York Herald is highly critical of Barnum and his “freak show.” The reporter’s columns about Barnum and his show stir up trouble among certain people in the community, including the upper-class members of the community.

To enhance his reputation with the upper-class, Barnum convinces Philip Carlisle, a local playwright from a wealthy family, to join him in his business. To raise Barnum’s status, Carlisle arranges a trip to Europe for Barnum and his cast of characters to meet Queen Victoria.

January 27, 2018

Why is That Church in a Music Video?

I’ve written before about how I was involved in music during my high school and college years. When I was a senior in high school, I formed a barbershop quartet with three of my friends. I did the same thing in college. While my high school quartet had a limited number of performances, my college quartet performed at several community functions and events.

I’ve always been a big fan of quartets and other a cappella groups. One of the groups that I currently pay attention to is Home Free, an American a cappella singing group that consists of five young men. Home Free got its big break in 2013, when it won a competition on the NBC television show, The Sing-Off. The grand prize that year was $100,000, plus a recording contract with Sony.

Last month, Home Free performed at the Peoria Civic Center. Georgette and I attended the show with some friends. My favorite Home Free song is How Great Thou Art. The music video of the song is posted on YouTube. The video has generated more than 13 million views.

In the video, the group is standing on a hill that is surrounded by several hundred acres of land. The scenery in the background includes cascading slopes and mountains. The beautiful harmony of the group is matched by the gorgeous land that surrounds them. The only building in the video is a small country church, which shows up in a field near the end of the video.

I have the video saved on an iPad that sits on a stand on my bathroom counter. Ordinarily, when I’m in the bathroom in the morning getting ready for work, I use the iPad to play educational, self-improvement, or religious recordings. In the evening while I’m getting ready for bed, I usually use the iPad to listen to music.

My son, Harry, and his wife Kathryn live about five minutes away from where my wife and I live. Because they live so close to us, they’re able to stop by our house to visit on a regular basis. Whenever they stop by for a visit, their two oldest sons, Harry and Liam, immediately start looking around the house for me. Harry is 5 years old and Liam is 3 years old.

January 20, 2018

Why Is It So Hard To Practice Patience?

It doesn’t happen very often, but every once in a while, I complain directly to God about something that’s bothering me. Last week, my frustration with an ongoing issue finally got to the point that one of my thoughts went up to God in the form of a question: Why can’t you just have an angel appear to me in a dream and tell me what to do? I’m tired of playing these cat and mouse games where I’m always struggling to try to figure out what I should do.

Of course, I immediately felt guilty about addressing God in this manner. Who did I think I was? A prophet? King Solomon? Saint Joseph?

But I get extremely frustrated at times, because while I want to do the right thing, I often feel as though I need specific direction from God. Although I’ve always been good at solving problems, I don’t like it when I have to wait on God to reveal pieces of the puzzle that are needed to solve the problem I’m struggling with.

I’m convinced that one of the primary reasons God operates this way is to teach me the virtues of humility and patience. If He sent an angel to tell me how to solve my problems, I wouldn’t need to learn and practice humility and patience. I would simply wait for instructions from the angel and then take credit for being a special child of God.

Most of us fail to realize that in order to really be humble, we must first suffer humiliations. And we must accept whatever humiliations that come our way with love and gratitude. While humility is the most important of all virtues, the virtue of patience has to be among the top five virtues. Why? Because it’s so difficult to put into practice.

Last week, I wrote about the three grades of patience, which are, to bear difficulties without interior complaint, to use hardships to make progress in virtue, and to desire the cross and afflictions out of love for God and accept them with spiritual joy. It would be impossible to put the three grades of patience into practice if we were to try to do it without God’s assistance.

January 13, 2018

The Difficulties That Arise After Years of Marriage

Last week, I wrote about a couple who was having financial problems because of the husband’s inability to work. Here’s what I wrote at the end of the article:
I’ve been a lawyer for more than 35 years. I’ve dealt with hundreds of couples who, after years of marriage, are facing an unexpected crisis. You would think that after being married for 20 or more years, married couples would be more patient and forgiving of each other than they were when they were newly married. But that’s usually not the case. The fact that they’ve spent years together seems to somehow inhibit their ability to practice real patience and forgiveness toward each other.

Instead of being patient and forgiving, they’re extremely frustrated and angry with each other. Why?

When couples get married, there’s always great hope for the future. With that hope comes the expectation that they will be able to work out all their problems. There is also an expectation that they will someday be able to overcome whatever bad habits or deficiencies they have.

Unfortunately, as each year passes, nothing really changes. Husbands and wives stop making the effort that is required to please each other. It’s almost as if they’ve been through too much together. They’re worn out and exhausted. They’ve run out of patience.

I’ve written before about a saying that is common in the business world: “Familiarity breeds contempt.” This saying stands for the proposition that the more familiar you are with a person, the more contemptible that person becomes.

Over time, as people in the business world become more familiar with each other, their defects and weaknesses become more evident. They are exposed to and become tired of each other’s excuses, bad habits, broken promises, lack of respect, mood swings, angry outbursts, and lack of appreciation. Before long, their patience wears thin, and the slightest infraction causes them to treat each other with contempt.

January 6, 2018

Something Married Couples Face After Years of Marriage

Last week, I had an appointment with a man — I’ll call him Jim — who hired me eight months ago to represent him on a personal injury case. As usual, Jim brought his wife with him to the appointment. I’ve met with Jim and his wife on four occasions over the past eight months. Jim was injured when a large truck disregarded a stop sign and collided with his vehicle in the middle of an intersection. Because of his injuries, Jim has not been able to return to work. He’s been without an income for eight months.

Jim and his wife are in their late 30s. He’s a skilled tradesman who has been a member of a trade union for more than 20 years. Jim has never had any problem finding work, primarily because he is willing to travel to other states to work, when necessary. Since the accident, Jim’s financial situation has become progressively worse. He has had to borrow money to support his wife and children, and he also recently cashed in part of his retirement, so he could keep up with his bills.

Prior to the accident, Jim’s wife did not work outside the home. A few months after the accident, she felt that she had no other choice but to get a job, so she applied for and secured a job at a local business.

Each of the times I’ve met with Jim, he’s been upbeat and happy. He’s an intelligent, good-natured person who likes to talk and tell stories. His wife has come to all his appointments and has always been courteous and friendly — until last week.

Last week, when I entered the conference room to meet with them, Jim was the same as he’s always been, but his wife was quiet and had an angry look on her face. Her demeanor indicated to me that she and Jim either argued on the way to my office, or she was fed up with his situation.

I talked to Jim about his condition and he indicated to me that he was still receiving physical therapy three times a week. He said that he probably wasn’t going to be able to return to work for at least another 10 to 12 months. He told me that before the accident, he worked at the same trade for 20 years.

February 10, 2018

The Death of a Special Christ-Like Priest

Georgette and I met on August 4, 1978, when we were both 21 years old. We were married in June 1980, while I was on break from law school. Ten months later, in March 1981, we had our first child, Harry. I graduated from law school in May of the following year.

We moved back to Peoria during the summer of 1982. At that time, Georgette was pregnant with our second child, Anna. I started my law practice in January 1983, and Anna was born the following month. We had our third child, Maria, 13 months later, in March 1984. When Maria was born, I was 26 years old.

It was during this period of time that my mom and my sister Colleen started commenting about how I had become too serious and I needed to lighten up. Colleen is a year and a half younger than me, and of my eight sisters, she was the one I was closest to while we were growing up.

When my mom and sister told me that I had become too serious, I hadn’t realized that my behavior had changed from the young, carefree guy who liked to have a good time and tease other people to an older guy who felt overwhelmed by the burdens of life.

But I wasn’t bothered by their comments about my being too serious. To me, that was what responsible adults did — they grew up and did their best to care for and support their families. In some respects, my mom and my sister were correct. My newfound responsibilities made me feel overwhelmed. At times, I felt as though I was doing well just to keep my head above water. Georgette and I had three babies in three years — Maria was born on Harry’s third birthday — and I was doing my best to support my family while managing my law practice.

Now, more than 30 years later, Georgette and I have 13 grandchildren, with three more on the way. I’m still serious, but I’m having more fun now than I’ve had in years. I’ve given myself permission to lighten up and revert to my childhood when I’m around my grandchildren. Their parents sometimes get irritated with me because they think I get their children riled up too much. But that’s OK with me, because I’m finally able to do what my mom and my sister wanted me to do all those years ago.

August 19, 2017

A Pocket Knife, a Pen, and the Blood of a Dead Pope

Every day when I come home from work, I empty my pockets and put the items from my pockets into the top drawer of my dresser. I have a separate place for my wallet, my keys, and my rosary. Next to where I keep my keys is a pocket knife that my dad gave to me. The pocket knife is important to me because it belonged to my grandfather, Tom Williams.

Whenever I open my drawer and see my grandfather’s knife, I’m reminded of all the occasions when we spent time together watching television, working on projects, and cleaning his laundromat.

In addition to the pocket knife, I also have a shiny, black fountain pen. Engraved in silver on the pen is the name of my other grandfather, Harry M. LaHood. My mom gave the pen to me when I was a boy. Because my mom’s dad died three days before I was born, I never had the opportunity to get to know him.

I think about both of my grandfathers on a regular basis and periodically reach out to them in prayer to ask for their help with challenges that I am facing.

I thought about the pocket knife and pen last week when one of my clients — I’ll call her Julie — made a comment to me: “I’m not Catholic, so I have no idea why Catholics would care about a vial that contains the blood of a dead pope. Can you explain to me why people would want to go look at a vial with blood in it?”

The look on Julie’s face gave away how she felt about people who would go out of their way to look at a vial of blood. She thought it was extremely bizarre that there are people who would make a special effort to pay homage to the blood of a dead person.

Julie was referring to a news report that she had seen that stated that a vial that contains the blood of Saint John Paul II was going to be on display at Saint Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria, on Saturday, August 19, 2017.

February 18, 2017

The Death of a Modern-Day Theologian

Michael Novak and his wife Karen greeting Saint John Paul II

I have a quote that I want you to read and then tell me if you know who wrote it: “Enjoying what we do is not always a feeling of enjoyment; it is sometimes the gritty resolution a man or woman shows in doing what must be done — perhaps with inner dread and yet without whimpering self-pity.”

I like the phrase, “without whimpering self-pity.” It sounds much more dramatic and important than the phrase, “without feeling sorry for yourself.” I also like the phrase, “gritty resolution.” Was there anything that you did last week that you dreaded, but still did with gritty resolution and without whimpering self-pity?

Here’s another quote from the same man in which he articulated his idea of what God is — and is not:

He is not “the Big Guy upstairs,” nor the loud booming voice that Hollywood films affect for God. There are hosts of bogus pictures for God: the Watchmaker beyond the skies, the puppeteer of history. If you wish to find him, watch for him in quiet and humility — perhaps among the poor and broken things of earth. There are people who looked into the eyes of the most abandoned of the poor and saw infinite treasure there, treasure without price, and there found God dwelling.

The man I have been quoting is Michael Novak, a Catholic philosopher and theologian who died from cancer on February 17, 2017, at the age of 83. His wife of 46 years, the former Karen Laub, died in 2009.

Novak was the author of more than 50 books that addressed topics such as religion, economics, policy, politics, and sports. He was best known for his expertise in economics, which was on display in his book The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism.

He described “democratic capitalism” as “neither the kingdom of God nor without sin. Yet all other known systems of political economy are worse. Such hope as we have for alleviating poverty and for removing oppressive tyranny — perhaps our last, best hope — lies in this much despised system.”

April 2, 2016

The Departure of a Hero

HeroOn a Thursday evening during the summer of 1971, my dad and I went to Limestone Community High School in Bartonville, Illinois, to register me for the upcoming school year. I had graduated from St. Mark’s Catholic School in May, which was the end of what I considered an eight-year prison term.

I got off to a bad start at St. Mark’s. My first-grade teacher was Sister Lorken, a cruel and unforgiving religious sister who had no business teaching children. Because I had trouble learning how to read, Sister Lorken regularly singled me out for verbal abuse in front of my classmates. She also periodically physically abused me by grabbing my shoulders and shaking me while she yelled at me. At the end of the school year, Sister Lorken recommended to my parents that I be held back. My parents refused her request and insisted that I be allowed to advance to the second grade.

My second grade teacher was Sister Eduarda, who was also very abusive. Unlike today, the mindset of some of the teachers during the 1960s was that the only way to handle young boys who were not performing up to expectations was to ridicule them and, when necessary, use corporal punishment to force them to conform.

During my seventh and eighth grade years, classes were split up between two seventh grade teachers and two eighth grade teachers, one of whom was Sister Theogene. She was as bad as Sister Lorken and Sister Eduarda.

There was one memorable occasion that occurred during the first month of seventh grade. One day while I was walking in the hallway on my way to class, Sister Theogene attacked me from behind and started hitting me on the back of my head with an open hand. As she was hitting me, she yelled at me because my shirt was untucked in back. I was not aware that the back of my shirt had become untucked while I had been sitting in my previous class.

June 6, 2015

John Wayne vs. Bruce Jenner

John WayneEvery so often, my wife tells me that I’m living in the wrong times. Because of my old-fashioned beliefs, she claims that I would have been better off living during the 1800s. Whenever she comments about this, I remind her that I spent the better part of my early years at my grandfather’s (Tom Williams’s) house, and since he was born in 1898, that’s probably where I picked up a lot of my beliefs.

I’ve written before about how my grandparents lived next-door to my parents’ house. During the years that I was growing up, my grandfather owned a coin-operated laundromat. He was semiretired at that time and worked 20 to 30 hours a week at the laundromat. The rest of the time, he was home.

During the 1960s, I spent a lot of time in my grandfather’s living room, watching his favorite television shows with him. The heroes in those shows were always men who were smart, tough, bold, and decisive — virile warriors who always practiced and lived the virtues of honor and courage.

During those years, the movie studios released several Westerns that starred John Wayne. One such Western was McLintock, a 1963 comedy that starred John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. In the movie, Wayne’s character was a wealthy rancher, George Washington (“GW”) McLintock. His wife, “Kate,” was played by O’Hara. For a reason unknown to GW, Kate moved out of their house and separated from him. She then became a snobbish diva in the local community, insisting that she be called by her formal name, “Katherine.”

After living on her own for two years, Kate returned to GW’s home at the same time their daughter returned home from college. Kate then announced that she was going to take their daughter back to the state capitol to live with her. At one point, Kate embarrassed GW in front of the local townspeople and GW grabbed her, turned her over his knee, and then spanked her bottom with a small coal shovel. The townspeople cheered when they saw Kate get what they felt she deserved.

April 18, 2015

Guidelines For A Disgraced Congressman

Ben Franklin - 13 Virtues to Moral PerfectionIf you pay attention to the news, you know about the recent resignation of our local U.S. Congressman, Aaron Schock. Schock is currently under investigation for violating federal law while he was in office. Some of the violations include using campaign funds for his own personal benefit, overcharging the government for mileage expenses, and flying around in private jets that were owned by individuals or companies who donated money to his campaign.

Last week a lawsuit was filed against Schock in federal court by a man who had previously donated $500 to his campaign. The lawyer who filed the lawsuit is going to ask the judge in the case to certify the case as a class action lawsuit. Lawyers like class action lawsuits because they can potentially earn millions of dollars in fees for representing an entire class of individuals, which in this case would be all the people who donated money to Schock’s campaigns.

The filing of the lawsuit was just one more nail in the coffin in which the dead career of Aaron Schock resides.

Up until a few months ago, Schock could do no wrong. He won his first election at the age of 19 when he ran for the local school board. At the age of 23, he was elected to serve as a State Representative in the Illinois House of Representatives. Then he ran for U.S. Congress and won.

During the past 30 days, one news story after another pointed out various illegal acts that were committed by Schock. Now his reputation is in ruins and he is facing an uncertain future that will most likely include time in prison.

What happened to the ambitious, smart, innocent, good-looking young man who could do no wrong?

Like many of our politicians — especially those at the national level — he lacked virtue.

The dictionary defines “virtue” as “moral excellence; goodness; righteousness” and “conformity of one’s life and conduct to moral and ethical principles.

January 31, 2015

A Letter to a Coach and Mentor

No Pain No GainLast November, I received a letter from the wife (“Carla”) of one of my longtime business coaches and mentors. In the letter, Carla said her husband (“Dan”) was going to be celebrating his 60th birthday in December. She said that, as a gift, she wanted to give him letters from his friends and colleagues. She asked if I would be willing to write a letter to her husband that told him how I had benefited from my relationship with him.

Carla’s letter forced me to think through the handful of men who have had the most influence on my life. I came up with seven men, four of whom influenced me prior to my 18th birthday. The remaining three came along later in life.

Of course, Dan made the list. In my letter, I outlined the admirable traits that each of the first six men on my list possessed. I asked Dan to make sure to read about the other men before reading what I had to say about him, because what I had to say about the other men provided a foundation for what I had to say about him. Here’s what I wrote about the men who had the greatest impact on my life:

1. Carl Williams: My dad and the father of 17 children (nine boys and eight girls).       I was his fifth child. Dad’s 85 years old now and is still in good health. The most significant quality that my dad passed on to me was his love for and his loyalty to my mother, Kathryn Williams.

After more than 62 years of marriage, my dad is still in love with and fiercely loyal to my mom. To this day, he still insists that his children show her the love and respect she deserves, and comes to her defense anytime he believes she is not being treated appropriately by any of her children.

2. Tom Williams: My grandfather, who lived in the house next to my parents’ house. His grandchildren called him “Jidu,” the Lebanese name for grandfather. Jidu spent his adolescent and teenage years in Lebanon and was required to actually fight in a war while he was a teenager.

November 23, 2013

Protection From A Tornado

TornadoThe recent tornado that ripped through Washington, Illinois, destroyed the home of my office manager, Kenna.  When she heard the sirens and realized what was going on, she barely had enough time to wake her daughter and get her out of bed to run down to the basement of their house.  As soon as they got down the stairs, the tornado took out her daughter’s bedroom and then tore through the rest of the house.  If Kenna had delayed her decision to get her daughter out of bed by five seconds, neither one of them would be alive today.

In addition to Kenna’s house, the house of another one of my employees was also destroyed by the tornado.  Two of my relatives who live in Washington also lost their homes.  The path that the tornado took was less than a mile away from where I live.  I feel guilty because the only inconveniences that my family and I had to endure were a loss of power for one day and a boil order that the City of Washington put into place for a few days.

Within hours of the tornado, hundreds of people took it upon themselves to reach out and assist the people whose homes were destroyed.

During the first few days after the storm, my wife volunteered to help out at different facilities that were set up in Washington to distribute items that were donated by local residents.  She told me that she was overwhelmed by the generosity of the members of our community.  One man walked in with several boxes of brand new blankets he had purchased from a local store.  A woman dropped off a couple dozen new coats she had purchased from Bergners.  Hundreds of other people donated newly purchased items.

On the first day my wife helped out, she said that within hours, the inside of the building looked like a showroom for Sam’s Warehouse.  It was filled with everything from diapers to canned goods, which were being given away for free to people who were in need.

January 5, 2013

Is Life A Wrestling Match?

Verne Gagne - Wrestling Champion

Verne Gagne – Wrestling Champion

When I was growing up during the 1960s and early 1970s, most Saturdays my brothers and I watched “All-Star Wrestling” on television.  On one occasion while we were watching a wrestling match, a big brawl broke out between me and three of my brothers.  We were in the middle of the family room beating on each other, and my mom came into the room, turned off the television, and ordered all of us to “go outside with the other animals!”  It was a common occurrence for my mom to send us outside to burn off our energy and aggression.

When I was 13 years old (1970), the local television station that featured “All-Star Wrestling” advertised an event that was going to be put on in Peoria, Illinois.  Some of the same wrestlers we saw on television were scheduled to come to Peoria to compete at the Peoria Stadium.  My brothers and I were able to talk my dad into taking us to see the event.  Since the Peoria Stadium was outdoors, the wrestling ring was set up on the football field.  The event took place on a Saturday evening, and the ring was lit up with lights.

Out of all my brothers, my younger brother Peter was the biggest “All-Star Wrestling” fan.  He was seven years old when we went to see the event at the Peoria Stadium.  He knew all the wrestlers by name, and the wrestler he admired most was Verne Gagne, who at that time was the American Wrestling Association (AWA) World Heavyweight Champion.

Although my dad had told us that all the wrestling matches were staged, we didn’t believe him.  He said that the winners were chosen ahead of time and that the matches were rehearsed.  He also told us that Verne Gagne lived in the state of Minnesota, near where his uncles Joe and Unes Williams lived.  When we continued to doubt my dad, he told us he would call one of his uncles and we could ask his uncle to verify what he was telling us.

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