My Father’s ‘Pearls’, a String of Old-fashioned Wisdom and Advice

“Flush the toilet while you’re going, so others don’t hear it”

Pensive Dad

My father had a way with words. He wasn’t eloquent. He wasn’t flowery. He didn’t mince them. He was a plain talker who chose his words randomly, then delivered them firmly. Sometimes, they revealed his temper, but more often they reflected his wisdom. Many were gems that I still recall. Not sure if that’s a good thing but on the whole, I think, yes, it is.

While funny now, the bathroom message was a poignant commentary about life in a large family, living in tight quarters and being considerate of others.  I never questioned him and followed his direction by emptying accordingly.  Today, I chuckle about it ‘a few times a day’.

Like many men of his ilk, he didn’t subscribe to ‘there are no stupid questions’.  He was ‘old school’, and would tell you if it was a stupid question.  He was blunt sometimes. Yet, there was a side of him that espoused his ‘old school’ philosophy as a life lesson, to pass on to me and others.

“Walk on the outside when escorting a woman”
(Lesson: be a gentleman)

“Watch me, some day you’ll have your own house and can do this yourself”
(Lesson: be self reliant)

“Go to school. You want to be a painter the rest of your life, like me?”
(Lesson: education is a stepping stone to success)

“Don’t smoke, drink, go in debt or lie”
(Lesson: be healthy, physically and financially, and be an honest broker)

“Don’t fish in another man’s waters”
(Lesson: be respectful of others)

“Life is hard, don’t add extra baggage”
(Lesson: make good decisions)

Having a limited formal education didn’t handicap my dad, or prevent him from improving himself, and he always strove to do that, whether at work or play. He gave his best daily and expected the same from others, especially his children.  He followed his own ‘rules’ and over the course of his life, became a better man to himself, his family and friends. This is his legacy, and it’s reflected in the words he spoke and how he spoke them, his ‘pearls of wisdom’.

Do you have one or more ‘pearls’ from your dad?  What was the message, or lesson, in his words?  I invite you to share them in the comments.


Dedicated to dads everywhere and their ‘words of wisdom’, their pearls.

Published by


Retired in 2013 after 5 years as an elementary school teacher and 40 years as a sales representative to begin anew as a school crossing guard. SMy essays/stories are a way to communicate through the telling of personal experiences. One reader said about my blog stories, "...these are like a cold sip during a marathon run, simple, real life events". Another offered about my blog, “it brings some sense of normalcy not easily found in the modern world.”

8 thoughts on “My Father’s ‘Pearls’, a String of Old-fashioned Wisdom and Advice”

  1. My father was a man of few words. I don’t recall him ever dispensing “pearls,” but he often called me “Jewel,” which I suppose was his way of expressing how valuable I was to him. I hadn’t thought about that in a long time. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good post! Some real pearls there. The old school dads! Here are some of the things mine said and still says: “be on top of the house or the house will be on top of you,” “treat the cleaning lady and the queen the same,” “a true aristocrat can go anywhere in his underwear,” “plus one penny at the end of the month is joy, minus one leads to misery.” I’ll stop there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love these and am so happy that you added yours which is what I was hoping to elicit from readers (heh, now in talking like I know what I’m doing). To me, the ‘cleaning lady and the queen’ means my wife but may actually mean the queen to genuine Englishmen. My wife has a plaque in our laundry room, ‘when the queen is happy, there is peace in the kingdom’. I live the ‘aristocrat’ saying. Old school dads are great.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My Dad set an example, working from age 11 in a state across a bridge which had no child labor laws. He found out from a trucker who told him he could go to a college with a work study program but he needed to start studying “now.” (Age 13)
    It was like a “Pull yourself up by the bootstraps” lesson. We all respected his knowledge and working as a nuclear engineer at NASA. He let us be kids, but wanted us to at least “Try hard.” 😀


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s