Inside Notes: The Men Who Made Us
By Curtis Parrott
I think back to how I got to this point in time in my life. After all my mistakes, it was the mentors behind me, pushing me forward kicking and screaming, who made the difference. There have been many mentors in my life and they trained me in the many ways of the world.
For many of us, our fathers made the biggest difference in our lives. My dad, Al Parrott, born in 1920, grew up in the heart of the depression. He fought in WWII in the CBI Theater of operations and traveled the world. Dad worked hard every day of his life giving his best, raised and loved his family, and sacrificed everything for us. Loved by all, he truly made a positive impression on many people.
When I as 11, I met Jerry Lawson. A self-made man and entrepreneur, he taught me the newspaper business and taking risk to achieve my goals. He was an Army veteran working with missiles in West Germany (yes, pointed east). He started off in Tyler, Texas, at their local paper, worked with the Dallas Daily News (working the day President Kennedy was assassinated), and Dealer Scope Magazine, all before starting Retailing News and the HVAC Insider. He was a major influence in my life and has been my friend for the past 51 years.
A man of strong devotion and will, my mentor Joe Whisenant, got me into law enforcement when I was 19. Growing up next to the Masters Golf course in Augusta, he became a pro golfer. Later in life he felt devotion for the public’s safety. I learned how to survive in a wild world. Being an undisciplined lad, he taught me to be a professional and as he always said, “Just do your job.” We went through many adventures together.
I spent 6 years in the travel industry running several travel agencies. My friend Paul Rymniak scooped me right out of travel school. A Ukrainian Catholic, he was very devoted to his faith and believed in getting the truth out. We worked and traveled together, visiting many exciting places, having great adventures.
There were many, many others, too many to name but they all had an environmental and physiological effect on me.
There are some lessons and bits of wisdom that only a man can impart to another man. Men and women are different. We view and interact with the world differently. So it makes sense for men to seek out other men for guidance on how to navigate life.
Being a man means being responsible, respecting other people, making a contribution to the community, and most of all, it means being the best father you can be. There is no rule book.
The most important role anyone can take on is to be a parent. Poor parenting can have devastating consequences, in relationships to both your sons and daughters.
Unfortunately, it seems like a generation of men went without mentors growing up and we need mentors. We hear on the news about absent fathers and the effect it is having on young men today. Even when a man has a father he can look up to, it takes a village of man mentors to raise a child. Yet men find themselves more and more isolated, without the community ties and relationships that helped previous generations learn the art of manliness. Without good examples of men to emulate, young men often get a bit lost. Studies have shown that the lack of a male figure in a boy’s life increases the likelihood that the lad will perform poorly in school or get involved in crime. And beyond the obvious consequences like crime and education, this void can affect a man in a myriad of subtle ways.
In addition to providing some guidance in navigating through life as a man, mentors can expand one’s view of what it means to be a man. Every man has had different life experiences and been exposed to different philosophies and worldviews. They’ve been brought to their knees by different trials, been carried away in different joys, and have learned unique bits of wisdom. They can help you see things a different way, inspire you to dare greatly, comfort you when you grieve, and help you become a better man.
Be a good mentor in a young man’s life!
Keep the Faith!