Message of the Day – A Man and His Mule

Cal Skinner behind a mule in the early 1040’s working his father’s farm in Queen Anne County, Maryland. His father was too sick that year to farm.

Not the Marlborough Man, although that might be appropriate since my father was a cigarette smoker who died of lung cancer (even though he had stopped for almost 10 years).

This is Cal Skinner, my father, in the early 1940’s.

Today is the day that Addie Watling Skinner gave birth to my father 90 years ago. I suppose that my grandfather Roy Skinner had some role to play that day.

My grandmother was running a little corner store in Wilmington.

When she got pregnant the second time, she told me that her girl friends advised that she get an abortion.

They told her she could not run the store and take care of my father’s older brother George, plus another child.

We’re talking late 1915, early 1916, here.

I learned that when I interviewed my grandmother at age 95 in the late 1980’s.

At one point, she asked,

What do you think about abortion?

Out of office, but still in my more or less pro-choice days, I stumbled out this answer:

I don’t know, Grandmom. What do you think?

“Well, I hope you’re against it, because you wouldn’t be here, if I had followed my girl friends’ advice.”

That certainly caught my attention.

When Dad was on his deathbed, I asked if he had anything that he would have done differently, if he could do it again.

That’s where this picture comes in. Before my grandparents sold their Eastern Shore of Maryland farm, my grandfather was unable to work it for a couple of years.

My father drove up each weekend to do the farming. My guess is that this photograph was taken during this period in the early Forties when I was a small child. I see this sled is carrying a plow. It looks like the plow that is in our back yard.

Cal Skinner, Jr., wheeling his father, Cal Skinner, Sr., into the County Board room to vote for Ann Hughes for County Board Chairman. He has been receiving treatment for lung cancer in Washington, D.C.

Dad’s answer:

I would have spent more time with you during your first years, instead of working the farm every weekend.

So, the messages I derive are at least three-fold:

(1) Spend more time with your children so you don’t have the same regret my father had,

(2) Your family may have some familial memories that have political implications and

(3) Look how far this country has come in the last 60 years.

Here is a picture of Dad and me at the December, 1988, meeting of the McHenry County Board.

Dad signed himself out of the hospital so he could come home to vote for Ann Hughes for County Board Chairman. With his vote, she won. (There does seem to be a family resemblance, especially, in the Skinner nose.)

At least, some 45 years later, Dad had wheels.

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