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The Pickle jar.......

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
The Pickle Jar

The pickle jar as far back as I can remember sat on the floor beside the
dresser in my parents' bedroom. When he got ready for bed, Dad would
empty his pockets and toss his coins into the jar.

As a small boy I was always fascinated at the sounds the coins made as
they were dropped into the jar. They landed with a merry jingle when the
jar was almost empty. Then the tones gradually muted to a dull thud as
the jar was filled.

I used to squat on the floor in front of the jar and admire the copper
and silver circles that glinted like a pirate's treasure when the sun
poured through the bedroom window. When the jar was filled, Dad would
sit at the kitchen table and roll the coins before taking them to the

Taking the coins to the bank was always a big production. Stacked neatly
in a small cardboard box, the coins were placed between Dad and me on the
seat of his old truck.

Each and every time, as we drove to the bank, Dad would look at me
hopefully. 'Those coins are going to keep you out of the textile mill,
son You're going to do better than me. This old mill town's not going to
hold you back.'

Also, each and every time, as he slid the box of rolled coins across the
counter at the bank toward the cashier, he would grin proudly 'These are
for my son's college fund. He'll never work at the mill all his life like

We would always celebrate each deposit by stopping for an ice cream cone.
I always got chocolate. Dad always got vanilla. When the clerk at the
ice cream parlor handed Dad his change, he would show me the few coins
nestled in his palm. 'When we get home, we'll start filling the jar
again.' He always let me drop the first coins into the empty jar. As
they rattled around with a brief, happy jingle, we grinned at each other.
'You'll get to college on pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters,' he said.
'But you'll get there; I'll see to that.'
No matter how rough things got at home, Dad continued to doggedly drop
his coins into the jar. Even the summer when Dad got laid off from the
mill, and Mama had to serve dried beans several times a week, not a
single dime was taken from the jar.

To the contrary, as Dad looked across the table at me, pouring catsup
over my beans to make them more palatable, he became more determined than
ever to make a way out for me. 'When you finish college, Son,' he told
me, his eyes glistening, 'You'll never have to eat beans again - unless
you want to.'

The years passed, and I finished college and took a job in another town.
Once, while visiting my parents, I used the phone in their bedroom, and
noticed that the pickle jar was gone. It had served its purpose and had
been removed.

A lump rose in my throat as I stared at the spot beside the dresser where
the jar had always stood. My dad was a man of few words, and never
lectured me on the values of determination, perseverance, and faith. The
pickle jar had taught me all these virtues far more eloquently than the
most flowery of words could have done. When I married, I told my wife
Susan about the significant part the lowly pickle jar had played in my
life as a boy. In my mind, it defined, more than anything else, how much
my dad had loved me.

The first Christmas after our daughter Jessica was born, we spent the
holiday with my parents. After dinner, Mom and Dad sat next to each
other on the sofa, taking turns cuddling their first grandchild. Jessica
began to whimper softly, and Susan took her from Dad's arms. 'She
probably needs to be changed,' she said, carrying the baby into my
parents' bedroom to diaper her. When Susan came back into the living
room, there was a strange mist in her eyes.

She handed Jessica back to Dad before taking my hand and leading me into
the room. 'Look,' she said softly, her eyes directing me to a spot on
the floor beside the dresser. To my amazement, there, as if it had never
been removed, stood the old pickle jar, the bottom already covered with
coins. I walked over to the pickle jar, dug down into my pocket, and
pulled out a fistful of coins. With a gamut of emotions choking me, I
dropped the coins into the jar. I looked up and saw that Dad, carrying
Jessica, had slipped quietly into the room. Our eyes locked, and I knew
he was feeling the same emotions I felt. Neither one of us could speak.

This truly touched my heart. I know it has yours as well. Sometimes we
are so busy adding up our troubles that we forget to count our blessings.

Never underestimate the power of your actions. With one small gesture
you can change a person's life, for better or for worse.
post #2 of 33
An if the world would only start livin simple like that again, what a better place we could have.

That's a good story coyote.
post #3 of 33
Excellent story Coyote, brought a tear to my eye. This past weekend we dropped our oldest of for his Freshman year at college. That really brought on the tears.
post #4 of 33
What a great story. Certainly stirred up my heart. Reminds me that in my profession (physician) we get so busy with all the hoopla we sometimes forget how an act of kindness can be so meaningful to someone and maybe change their life.
post #5 of 33
This doesn't belong under "Jokes" and I hope it's true.
Werdwolf, a FINE physician is HARD to find and I have a FABULOUS one now. EVERY time I see him before he starts, he says Let's start with your head (which is pretty f'd up):) then he works down to my toes. Sort of like a mini physical. THEN he gets to why I'm there. FYI.

Coyote, GREAT story!
post #6 of 33

Thank you for sharing this wonderful story with us. And I agree it should not be in the "Jokes" section.

I am moving this thread to the "Messages For All Members and Guests" section and making it a sticky.

Thank you again!
post #7 of 33
what he said^^^^^^^^^ thanks coyote it did bring a tear.
post #8 of 33
Hey coyote,a touching tale,and yes it made my eyes water.Thank you for sharing it with us.
post #9 of 33
Great story brother ! It brought a tear to my eye !
post #10 of 33
Coyote, that is a great story, and one that a lot of folks could learn from. We are living in such a selfish "instant gratification" society that I think folks have totally forgotten what hard times and sacrifice are all about. Remember, smoking meat, and really bbq, all started as a way to make cheap meat palatable. Look what it's become to all of us.

Whenever I see a bratty little kid with a fancy cell phone, or some sixteen year old driving a fancy car his parents bought for him, I wonder if those values are forevermore lost from our society. People feel pretty entitled to everything "right now". I'm glad to know folks like you out there still have them and are passing them on. To this day, I can remember my grandma sewing up holes in my grandpa's socks. Today, we just head to the store, buy another pair, and chuck the old ones.

Cheers to the pickle jar. I'm starting my own.
post #11 of 33
Loving and caring for and wanting your children to be better than you is selfless. It is TRUE love and to be admired.
Coyote ROCKS!
post #12 of 33
Don't have a real "pickle jar " but have been using one of those big water bottles ( like the water cooler they have in offices and such )for a few years now and just dropped in some more change. Don't have any kids of our own , but got one spry lil' nephew and a brand new niece. I'm gonna start calling that old water bottle the "Pickle Jar "
Thanks Coyote cool.gif
post #13 of 33
Much appreciated Coyote. We too, just took our oldest off to college. Thing is he's 22. He has been our problem child. Messed with ***** as a teen, hated his parents (us), many scrapes with the law, probation, group homes, counseling and on and on. He has gone his own way the past several years, working in resort towns for min. wage jobs, not saving a dime. His college fund was wiped out pretty much years ago with legal costs, counselors, etc. But this summer he decided it was time to try to go to school and pursue a better life for himself. He made all of the arrangements himself, got registered, applied for and is getting financial aid, got a place to live. He only asked us to pick him up where he was living and take him to the college town, which we did. We have continued to put money into his "college fund" and though it isn't much, it was great to help where needed. We've seen him walk away from us mad in the past with a whole lot less in his pockets and a whole lot worse prospects going for him. But after a sincere handshake and hug from him, it was almost harder to leave the day we dropped him off at school two weeks ago. We're not so naive as to think it will all be roses from here on out, but are cautiously optimistic just the same. His sisters have been straight A students, one is in her 3rd year of college on a full ride scholarship, and the youngest, a junior in HS is poised to follow suit. Right now we are every bit as proud of him as we are of them.
post #14 of 33
Nice story, I loved It.
post #15 of 33
After my wife's first cancer, it wiped out every penny we had and put us $120,000 in debt. We had to ask our oldest son to delay his dream of going to college as we had spent his college fund. He was working part time at RadioShack, so he asked his boss and got promoted to full time, living at the house with us for the next year. During that time he put all his change into a mayonnaise jar, and we'd add to it as we could; it was his 'someday' savings.
He discovered while studying to be a Manager In Training that RadioShack offered a benefit for it's employees and employees' siblings; Charles Tandy set aside a large block of stock and the proceeds from that stock funded an account that would provide grants for college for needy associates. It is known as The Tandy Fund. He was also offered a store at about the same time, and called me from work, asking me my advice what he should do... it was exciting thinking of becoming a Store Manager, or should he go to college? I told him that if he became a store manager without a college education then 30 years from now he would still be a store manager; if he got his college education he could buy a store. He applied for and got the Tandy Grant and got accepted at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth (where he had to go on the Grant) majoring in Computer Science. We went to the bank and cashed in his jars of change; it was enough to pay for a train ride to Texas, the only way we could afford to get him there.
Shortly after my wife's cancer operation, I ruptured 3 discs as a meat manager and had to have a back operation, out of work for 2 1/2 years, in a wheelchair most the time. I recovered enough to get out of the chair, and he was in his 3rd year of school, still working for RadioShack. But, he was offered a lucrative job on campus doing their networking between dorms and the main computer. If he left RadioShack he'd lose his grant. I applied and was hired by RadioShack as a sales associate so he could quit RadioShack and take on this networking job.
15 years later he now is CEO of his own networking corporation, expanding to surrounding states after 10 years in business. He's gone back to TCU and got his Executive MBA and is working on his doctorate. He has a mayonnaise jar in his office he puts his change in. It's what got him from Adams Center, NY to Fort Worth, Tx. to begin his adult life; without it we could never have raised the money for the train ticket. Now he has a daughter and a son on the way.
15 years later I'm a store manager for RadioShack and we also moved to Fort Worth about 10 years ago. Without a college education I can't go much further and it's a testament to what I'd told him, but I'm thankful for the job. Now my wife's come down with another cancer, her tests were last week and we find out how bad next week. In one week we've already accumulated $2,500 in bills that the insurance won't cover. We've been putting change in a water bucket for the last year or so for grandkids, but we're going to need it again.... you put money away for a rainy day.. it's raining.
I won't be posting much more as far as smoking anything large goes; it's now not in our budget. I did some sausage and going to do a chicken today for our son's birthday (the CEO), maybe a small turkey for New Year's Eve. I've got some pork steaks I'm going to do Sunday. But, no briskets or butts or anything of a larger amount, we have new oncologists and radiologists we have to pay off their cars and boats again. It took me 10 years before to pay off the $120,000 but I did it; I refused to file for bankrupcy. I won't again, I'll work parttime jobs again to pay this off too. Anybody need their smoker cleaned?
But, I'll be on here as I can and I can only offer anything I know as much as I know to pass on to help others. I've got a lifetime of experience in meats and I'm glad to share anything at all I am able to. Isn't that what a lifetime of experience in something good for, to pass on to help others? Please don't hesitate to ask, I'm more than glad to give whatever input I can.
Take heed of the pickle jar and start one, you never know when it'll be needed!
post #16 of 33
Great story coyote. Brought back some old memories.
post #17 of 33
Isn't it truly amazing how so many different folks separated by time and distance can relate to being helped along in such similar ways.

Pops, you are a man of great courage, strength and wisdom. Congratulations on your guidance and sacrifice for your son and for sticking to your guns and doing the right thing with your wife. You are now challenged again by a change in the current of the river of life. My prayers will be with you and your wife and please keep your SMF family posted on developments both good and otherwise.

I find it most unique that even when faced with a situation such as yours you still offer a piece of yourself to all of us. You are a great person and I am proud to call you a friend! I'll do what I can to get a good word in for you and yours "Upstairs".

post #18 of 33
Wow. I'm feeling somewhat inadequate... that is an amazing story, Pops. I have a change jar... I'll be looking at it a little differently after these posts. Thank you.
post #19 of 33
I feel the same as Rich, I have a water bottle also and I too will look at it differently from now on...Thanks Guys far great posts
post #20 of 33
Pops what an example of a FINE individual.
GLAD your Wife is kicking. Sorry bout your back. REAL HAPPY bout your fine Son!

America is BEAUTIFUL!
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