Bill Stacey and his Dad

image0With nothing to do on long winter evenings, boys had to think of some way to let out their energy. That’s why Bill and Edmund Stacey and their Cox uncles had a boxing club. Some nights after school or after work they would get together and practice boxing. They were never very good, but had a lot of fun. Then an old rancher came to town who was a professional boxer and taught Bill to box. After that he knew some tricks no one else knew, and even began to consider himself the family protector at nine or ten years old. Even so, the older boys in town didn’t exactly take him seriously.

Another thing families did on those long winter evenings was to watch a play. Since there were no cars, the play had to come to them. The old Adobe Church was built in 1885, but was replaced by the new church in 1898. After that the adobe church had been used as a school and a recreation hall. In the early Twentieth Century it was called “The Opera House.” It sat on the same block as the new brick church, but half a block north. There was a stage at one end on which a traveling troop would come present a play once in a while. People would come see the play for only a few cents each, and go home feeling well entertained.

image1One day when Bill was about ten years old the family went to a play at the old opera house, and Fred got into an argument with the ticket taker, who mistakenly charged him twice. Fred knew he was right, and refused to back down, even when the other man became angry. It got heated enough Bill began to wonder if his father could be in danger. Knowing he was pretty good with his hands, Bill decided to protect his dad. So ten-year old Bill Stacey walked over to stand beside Fred, thinking that would intimidate the ticket taker.

“I loved my dad,” he said. “I stood so close to him no one could have managed a hit without my stepping in to take care of it. I was pretty confident I could protect him even though I was very young.” Fortunately for all involved the argument never came to blows.

Fred Stacey had a way of inspiring his boys to want to work. In fact, he never raised his voice; he never criticized or nagged; he just expected them to do their best, and they did it Bill grew up willing to do anything his dad asked; but as time went on, he realized His Dad had never said he was doing a good job. Fred just expected his boys to work, but never thanked them or appeared to notice they had done their best. Bill would have done anything for his dad, but suddenly he needed one word of thanks. He said,

“Dad expected a lot of us, but he didn’t really talk much. He just said what had to be done, and we wouldn’t have even considered not doing it. In fact, I would have done anything for my Dad. He was my hero even though I was aware I had to work harder than most of my friends. Dad didn’t speak with a loud voice or criticize harshly when we made a mistake. Really, I always wanted image2to do my very best for him.

*”I don’t ever remember hearing him say I was doing a good job. He just expected his boys to work, but never thanked them or appeared to notice they had given their best effort. We worked hard for him because it was just expected of us. *

image3“The year I came back from the Air Force in 1946 I went to work for Dad again, and I decided I would do whatever it took to get him to notice my hard work. I ran the hay mower that summer, and found that my brothers and Uncle William always caught up with me on the rake. Sometimes they even had to take a day off so I could get ahead, so I decided to do whatever it took to stay ahead. I got up early, milked the cows, and worked so hard no one could keep up with me. Uncle William finally said “We’ve got to do something about him. He’s getting too far ahead.”

“By the end of the summer I had done almost a superhuman job of keeping the farm running smoothly, but Dad still hadn’t said a word. One day I was out by the car, and Dad came out with me. “Bill,” he said, “ya done good.” That was the only thing he ever said, but I felt as if I had received the biggest compliment in the world. It was enough.”

Fred Stacey was a real man. He didn’t have to prove it to anyone or raise his voice to be heard. He didn’t have to intimidate or bully others. His quiet strength and honor made a badge of courage no one ever forgot.