In 1948, my parents bought 40 acres in Waldo, FL where they opened a truck stop on Hwy 301 and raised their family. Of all the places in the world, why did they pick Waldo?
This question is compounded by the fact that my family’s roots are deep in rural North Carolina. We are talking Revolutionary War deep. But, in 1945, the doctors recommended that my parents move somewhere near the ocean due to my father’s chronic asthmatic bronchitis. With my father’s health in mind, my parents packed up and moved to Ft. Lauderdale in south Florida. But as time went on, my parents questioned this move. My father was a traveling salesman and between his absences and the negative influences of the area, they were concerned about the safety and wellbeing of their children. Also, my parents were small town folks with small town values. And this ‘big city’ did not fit who they were nor was Ft. Lauderdale the environment they wanted my siblings and me to be raised in.
One day, as my father was contemplating this dilemma, he passed through Waldo on his way to Jacksonville and saw a “For Sale” sign on 40 acres. This acreage fronted on U.S. Highway 301 and also had a small log cabin on it. As he looked around Waldo, he saw a town on a major artery connecting Jacksonville to Tampa and he thought, “What a great place to build a truck stop!” As he evaluated the town, he saw the things that a growing family would need: grocery stores, a hardware store, a dry goods/clothing store, a drugstore, a doctor’s office, K-12 education and various churches.
But, in my father’s infinite wisdom, he saw something that was even more important. He saw a community. Together, my parents decided that this would be a great place to live and raise their four youngins!
So, our family said “ado” to Ft. Lauderdale without any protest. Shortly after we moved into the log cabin, construction on the truck stop began in earnest. Once completed, the truck stop became our home. Our bedrooms were connected to the restaurant, so we did our homework on the restaurant tables.
This move and business/family plan may seem a bit crazy. But think about the wisdom of their decision. Our father didn’t travel anymore, so he was there to guide our path every day. We not only got to see how business worked, but we participated by pumping gas, waiting on tables, cleaning the truck stop as well as clearing the 40 acres. This education was probably the most important of my life.
Indeed, being raised in this small town environment made a lasting and very beneficial impression on me. I was raised by wise parents and influenced by other elders in the community, many who were parents of my friends that I grew up with. Others were the wonderful school teachers, coaches, Scout leaders and my 4-H leader that became a mentor and close friend.
Thru it all, I gained a lot of what I call “Waldo Wisdom.”
Over the years, I’ve continued to gain Waldo Wisdom regardless of where I lived - because this kind of wisdom transcends a locale and is actually a mindset. Webster defines wisdom as: knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight. Waldo Wisdom takes this a step further by adding in small town values, love for your fellow man, hard work and just plain, good ole common sense.
One of the biggest lessons that I continually learn from is that you can find wisdom in every situation if you are if you are willing to look for it. Every bad experience and every good experience includes a nugget of wisdom if you are willing to look for it. And you can find it anywhere…. even in Waldo.