Do you have a code that you live by?

An open letter to my grandkids, nieces and nephews.  No, I wasn’t thinking of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s “Teach Your Children” when I gave this a title…but it does fit.  🙂

My dearest loved ones…

I may have shared this before but I’ll do so again at the risk of repeating myself. I was 15 and playing basketball outdoors in the summer at a local elementary…in the evening.  It was the fifties and nothing was offered on TV that could possibly compete with basketball for a boy in Indiana.

As darkness came the outdoor lights came on. There were about 12 of us and we were playing full court. Suddenly 3 or 4 police cars came up with their lights on. The police descended on the school and started rounding up boys who were playing…and running away at this point. I walked calmly to one of the cars and asked the policeman what was up. He asked for my ID..I didn’t have any.

He assumed I was older due to my size. I told him my name age and address. He said get in the car. I thought he was going to take me home and told him I only lived 2 blocks away and could walk. He laughed and said I was going to the police station. My parents would have to come down and get me. My dad had been gone several years and mom didn’t no car. As I sat in the hallway outside the juvenile detention room I dreaded my mothers appearance. As she entered in her old green tweed coat walking down the hallway I hung my head, almost to my knees in shame. She whispered as she passed me, “I am so ashamed Joseph”. If I could have become an insect at that point I would have chosen it. We hardly spoke a word as we walked the 12 blocks home from the police station at midnight.

I had been reprimanded by the police for being out after 11pm curfew. In my mothers eyes I may as well have stolen the Mona Lisa. I have thought about that many times when I had to make a decision about right and wrong. What would Mom think?


We are all guided by someone special in our lives.  The fear of punishment is ever present when we make decisions.  I knew I hadn’t lost my mothers love.  But I also knew I had disappointed her.  It was her standard I was supposed to live by and thus I should employ that standard in my life.  I tried to do that.  I have not always been succesful but I still try to do that today.

Love to you all.  I am so proud of each and every one of you.

I respect your decisions and the way you treat others.

Thinking of you,

Grandpa Joe


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