The Boat Ride

Len Addington By Len Addington, 12th Jun 2017 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Friends

This page reflects an unexpected act of kindness by an older man to the teenager who did his yard work.

The Boat Ride

I grew up on a small peninsula bordered by an industrial park. The aviation company nearby built airplanes during World War II and the homes on the peninsula were built for workers assembling the aircraft. The neighborhood strip mall had only a pharmacy, dry cleaners, and grocery store. There were very few jobs for the young people living there and none for those under age 16.

At the age of 12 I was asked by an elderly woman if I would be willing to rake the leaves in her yard for $.25 an hour. Since I received no allowance from my parents the thought of being able to earn spending money was appealing. Over the next few years I took care of many yards in the neighborhood, and also learned to wash and wax cars with some expertise.

I had become the caretaker of the yard and car off an older man, who was wise from his many years as a business owner and realtor. His waterfront property sported a log cabin he had designed and a beach cottage at river's edge. When driftwood would accumulate on the beach we would haul it across the river using his 12 foot boat. A 3 horsepower engine took across the river, about a quarter of a mile. The driftwood would be collected by craftsmen who turned it into furniture or artwork.

One September evening in my senior year of high school I received a call asking for me to come to his house to take care of something. Mr. Wetzelberger never told me what needed to be done. When I arrived I was told to lower the boat into the river and make sure the fuel tank was full. When we were ready to leave the dock I was told to head out into the bay.

I had worked for Mr. Wetzelberger for quite some time, and his 80 years had begun to show as he directed me doing yard work and other jobs. As I steered the boat out toward the bay I wondered whether he was sure of what he was doing. The roar of the boat engine made conversation impossible, so I decided not to question his instructions, but wait until told to stop the engine.

About a mile out into the bay I was told to cut the motor off. We coasted forward for about 30 feet and I was told to drop the anchor. As I waited to find out why we were at least a mile from land, Mr. Wetzelberger spoke up. “Before you get too busy to spend the time to appreciate it, I want you to sit back and watch the sun go down.” We sat in silence for about half an hour. As dusk began to fall, Mr. Wetzelberger called for me to start the engine, and to start back home. After securing the boat to the pier, I headed for home. Mr. Wetzelberger stopped me, insisting he pay me for the time we spent together.

The boat ride happened nearly 50 years ago, but I have never forgotten the kindness of a man who wanted me to appreciate one of the wonders we can experience that can easily be taken for granted.


An Unexpected Act Of Kindness, The Wisdom Of Aging

Meet the author

author avatar Len Addington
I worked as a Counselor for 40 years. I gave my clients dignity and worth and modeled a life of integrity. I will post articles on careers and counseling and anecdotes.S

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