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Stick with me, kid, and you’ll be wearing cigar boxes for shoes…Lessons from Fathers

As we approach Father’s Day, we can’t help but reflect on the many lessons that our fathers provided to us, and think that they deserve some mail-order ice cream. Farmer Bob and the Mother of All Anarchy (MOAA) share the good fortune of having fathers who were giants in their lives.

Fathers Love of Ice Cream Perhaps, most importantly as it relates to Sisters of Anarchy Ice Cream, both fathers passed on a true love of ice cream. Farmer Bob’s dad, Dick, frequently led the charge in making home-made ice cream using rock salt and ice and the hand-crank White Mountain Creamer machine (Fun Fact—Sisters of Anarchy made ice cream this way for the first two years—2016 and 2017—of operation!). If you didn’t crank, you didn’t get any ice cream. MOAA’s dad, Gray, required everyone (including friends who happened to spend the night) to do copious amounts of yard work each Saturday. The reward was a trip to Baskin & Robbins for a cone and window shopping. Dick and Gray would be thrilled that the current entrepreneurship is in the form of farming and of farm-to-cone, mail order ice cream.

Entrepreneurship as a Life Lesson

Farmer Bob and MOAA both grew up in entrepreneurial households. His family ran several retail and wholesale businesses in central New York; MOAA’S family built and managed a portfolio of rental properties in Connecticut. One of Farmer Bob’s earliest memories — around age 4 — is working on a Saturday with his father and older siblings to unload an unexpected truckload of oil containers. He helped both parents collect and roll quarters from car washes. He painted fuel tanks on hot, humid summer days and trailed after his grandfather and great uncles on the family dairy farm. His dad and family conveyed that all work had value, and that doing it well was not only good for the bottom line, it instilled pride and a sense of accomplishment.

MOAA worked with her family pruning apple trees and doing yard work. She eventually parlayed that into a high school gardening business, which she and her best friend ran for three years. MOAA also helped her father sort checks from his rental properties. She learned about interest, mortgages and risk. Did these topics interest the 11-year old MOAA? Rarely. But these conversations held her in good stead as she entered adulthood and had to make her own business and financial decisions.

Commitment to Friends and Colleagues

Dick and Gray were both very committed to their communities and to their colleagues. If an organization needed a board member, someone to lead a fundraising campaign, or a recent college graduate needed advice, they were first in line. At Dick’s funeral, dozens of people – some known, some new to Farmer Bob – told us that Dick was the person that made the first key introduction critical to their getting their first job, or launching into their lifelong career. As MOAA’S dad was dying, friends and colleagues traveled from around the country to pay their respects. Even still, she occasionally will meet someone who tells her that her father helped them get their first internship or job, or was one of their favorite mentors.

Dick and Gray had a large fun side as well. Dick loved to tell jokes and stories, play bridge, play and coach sports, and spend time with family. And the standing agreement was, any book you wanted to read, he would make sure you could get your hands on it. Gray was a big personality who loved a party (he WAS the party). He had his standard party tricks—playing “bag pipes” on his neck and imitating what a cold car says in the morning—and favorite expressions such as “stick with me, kid, and you’ll be wearing cigar boxes for shoes”, or referring to junk food as “pogey bait”.

Spend Time with Dad or Send Mail Order Ice Cream

Farmer Bob and MOAA – as parents – are holding on by their fingernails. They tell themselves the Sisters of Anarchy are resilient, fairly damage-proof, and will overcome any bad parenting that comes their way. But even on the best days, their “parent experience” pales in comparison to the job their grandfathers (and grandmothers!!) did with their mom, dad, aunts and uncles. If the Sisters of Anarchy can learn a few of these lessons—hard work yields reward, do what you can to support colleagues and friends, and cherish time with family and friends—if not through direct experience with their parents then by stories of the previous generations, they will be well equipped. If only their grandfathers were still alive so they could spend the day with them or, in a pinch, send them mail order ice cream.

Four older adults sit at a table, from left, two white males next to two white females, all in formal attire NULL Blog Photo

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