Mentor Tell You Something About You
The Value of Post-it Notes

It was sixty-four years ago that I spent a couple of weeks working at Aunt Charlotte's candy store in Merchantville, NJ.  Aunt Charlette's was Brooks Oakford's store.  Back then, everyone called him Bud.  He was my cousin.  He asked me whether I would work for him as the store prepared for the Christmas season.  At that time, I was a month shy of reaching my ninth birthday.  Can you imagine what a great Christmas gift Bud gave me that year by allowing me to work in his store?  I was like a young kid in the proverbial candy story.  No matter where I went in the store, I could see, smell, and sample everything.  I received a great gift that Christmas long ago.

Description: Aunt Charlotte's

This is what Aunt Charlotte's looked like when I worked there.

Description: Aunt Charlotte's Candies

Aunt Charlotte's has moved, and this is what it looks like today.

Nonetheless, it took me a couple of decades to realize that the great gift that Bud gave me was not something that I understood many years before.  The greatest gift wasn't having the time of my life working in a candy store.  It was that Bud saw something in me at a very young age.  He could trust me to do a job without hurting myself or the equipment.  I did several different jobs, but the one that fascinated me the most was putting pretzels on a conveyor-belt that would coat them with chocolate. 

This was the coating machine that I worked on over six decades ago.

As I look back on my nearly 74-years, Bud was my first mentor in my life.  I realize now that he gave me a Post-it Note about how he saw me, and I have never forgotten that critically important insight that he had about me.  In fact, several years ago, I returned to Merchantville.  I took Bud and Bunny, his wife, and his four children to lunch and thanked him for his gift many Christmas seasons ago. 


I missed that Post-it Note initially.

At this end of my life, I am keenly aware of the truth that Steve Jobs mentioned in a graduation address at Stanford. 

You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something -- your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

Jobs was correct.  The next series of dots that I connected had to do with Professor Louie Palmer.  This time, I got the message right away.  While I was a student at Muskingum College from 1961-65, there was a course called The Arts.  It was a required 10-hour class taken in either your junior or senior year.  I took it in my junior year.  It was a difficult course, and most students feared it.  I enjoyed the class but didn't ace it.  However, at the end of the second semester, Louie called me into his office and replicated Bud's invitation to work for him.  In my senior year, I taught a handful of weekly subsections and wrote and graded the midterm and final both semesters.  I wound up as a teaching assistant while I was still an undergraduate.  That was a Post-it Note that I got immediately and have never forgotten it.  In fact, I am still teaching at the college level long after most people have retired. 

If you go to Mentors and Me on my website, you will find approximately a dozen and half of my mentors.  I owe these people a great deal for making me into who I am today.  By their actions, words, and work, they taught me how to function well in today's world.  Many of those people are no longer still around, however, they are still in my heart and mind. 

As a result, I have told people what I admire in them all the time.  However, this is especially true with my young grandchildren.  Two of them live in Indy.  Jack is six and Owen is four.  They are told every time that I see them what I love about them. 

However, I started the use of actual Post-it Notes with both of them several months ago.  Sometimes, I will talk to them about the notes.  However, other times, I'll leave them around their bedrooms on the desks, bureaus, or closet doors.  When I am not around and they find Post-it Notes, they will have to ask their parents what Papa wrote to them in longhand.  Imagine what that simple gesture will mean to them as they grow up.

This is an interesting aside to Post-it Notes.  When I started leaving Post-it Notes for the boys, I gave Jack several packages of them, small yellow and blue packs.  He has begun that tradition.  I was there several months ago, and he was leaving them around for his parents in the kitchen. 

Three years ago, I met my other granddaughter in Myanmar.  Her name is Ti Ti and she lives in northern Myanmar near Inle Lake.  Her mother was my tour guide in that area and needed to stop at her home to pick up some material for where we were going next.  Ti Ti was home on some holiday, and I was introduced to her.

Ti Ti spoke perfect American English and asked whether I wanted to play Scrabble with her. We played for around an hour after which she added up the score. Ti Ti was delighted to announce that she won. She was happy. I told Ti Ti never to forget that experience.  She had beaten a person old enough to be her grandfather, in an American game in her country, and in English, which is her second language.  Actually, I was happier than Ti Ti was.  I was quite serious about her not forgetting this event in her life. A young girl was able to best a male.  That was a learning moment for her.  Had I had a Post-it Note on me, I would have given her a note about our Scrabble victory.


This next picture is on my wall in my office in my home.  I truly view Ti Ti as my granddaughter.  I'm proud of her and the rest of her family.  When I return to Myanmar, I'll see Ti Ti again.

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Burma flag

Burmese independence flag

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Connecting The Dots

Connecting the Dots

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The Last Lecture

The Last Lecture

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Dancing with Death

Dancing with Death

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My Hauntings

My Hauntings

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An old man and his grandson

An Old Man and His Grandson

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