Life Lessons: Working Hard or Hardly Working

By Mayer Smith


“Life’s Precious Moments Don’t Have Value unless They Are Shared”

I try to live by this phrase and want to share some of my life stories with you, my readers.

Let me give you some background.

While in high school, I rode my bike a little under a mile each morning to get there.

After school emptied out at a little after 3 pm, I rode the bike to our family grocery store to perform miscellaneous chores and “wait on trade” (serving customers by finding the items they needed).

When I was old enough to drive, I would sometimes wake up about 6 am, grab some breakfast and drive the ½ ton panel truck several miles to our “truck farm” (a farm raising vegetables), wait for the farm hands to load the truck with the bushel baskets of vegetables (sweet potatoes, collards, and sundry others) for me to take to the store.  Then I would ride my bike to school to attend classes.

I rarely did my homework before going to bed. Most of the time, I did it in the ½ hour free period in homeroom where we had our desks with all our books inside.

Nevertheless, I was an Honor Student and in my senior year won the class Bausch & Lomb Science Award and graduated 13th in a class of 163 students in June 1942 in Newport News, VA.

In retrospect, I attribute my ability to achieve what I did to the fact that I really listened while in each class session. And, I was fortunate to have high school teachers who apparently loved their work and cared about their students.

An interesting sequel:  At my graduation ceremony while we were all in our caps and gowns and moving forward in lines to receive our diplomas, I searched the audience of parents but could not find mine.  One by one, the principal would call off each name and the student would walk across the stage to be handed his diploma. I still could not locate my parents.

When it came to my turn, I almost fell on my face because I was in the motion of stepping forward anticipating my name being called.  However, the principal, instead of just calling my name, declared: “The next young man is the 10th member of his family to graduate Newport News High School. All of them were a credit to the school and are a credit to the community! Mayer Smith.” There was a thunderous applause.  At that point, a beacon shone in the audience …. it was my mother’s face as red as a beet with pride!