This Sunday, June 18, we will be honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood. So, I decided to sit down with the Pearson dads, to discuss their fathers and the influence they have had on their lives and Pearson Farm……
Mr. Al spent a short 29 years with his father but his guidance continues to have an impact today. I asked him to share with us a few things he learned from his dad……. “He was pretty good at balancing work and play. He enjoyed fishing, hunting and a little golf. I was allowed to tag along on many fishing and hunting trips. We were expected to work on the Farm in the summer but were allowed and encouraged to participate in school activities such as sports and literary during the school year..... He demanded respect for my mother!! He didn't believe in just ‘hanging out' …. if you didn't have something to do, you came home.....He taught me to respect and appreciate the people who worked for us.......My father farmed through the depression and was deathly afraid of debt. This caused him to be very cautious. He taught us that money should be respected in bad times as well as good......The biggest impact he had on my life was teaching me that farming was more than a vocation, it was a lifestyle. Every aspect of our family revolved around farming. We lived, worked, played and worshiped on the Farm.”
Some of Mr. Al's fondest memories of his father were from their family vacations. “They were fun! Most were spent in Daytona Beach, Florida after peach season ended. Everyone was there, ready to relax and enjoy a little time with family and friends.”
I asked Mr. Al if his father expected him to continue in the family business of farming. He was, after all, the 4th generation. It seemed likely that the expectation would have been assumed. However, that wasn't the case. Mr. Al said, he was sure his father would have been proud that he and his sisters continued farming after he passed away, but he never felt pressure to farm. In fact, his father told Mr. Al that he would send him to school as long as he wanted to go. He had even stopped planting peach trees to focus on growing pecans. Something Mr. Al had started doing before Lawton came back home to farm.
Like his father, Lawton went to college, met his wife and then came back to the Farm. Lawton's farm life was different than Mr. Al's in that he didn't live on the Farm, but he did spend lots of time here. One of his favorite memories is of riding in the truck with his dad checking out the peaches. As they were creeping through a particularly narrow row, a branch that had bent back just as far as it could bend without breaking, all of a sudden snapped into the window and popped Lawton right in the face!!
When I asked Lawton about lessons he has learned from Mr. Al, he really didn't know where to start. “Lots, he said…..probably most important and something he has said so many times, True character of a man is determined by what he does when he thinks no one is looking"…. He also told me to "Be good to the trees and they'll be good to you…..When you plant young trees, don't just leave them alone…. touch their leaves, pinch the tips, love on ‘em a little.”
Lawton says that he has always been involved with the Farm. As a young boy, riding around looking at trees with Mr. Al and helping out in the packing shed. As he grew older, he drove tractors and Mr. Al even gave him a caliper to track the growth of peaches for a 2- week span when he was 16. “Of course, he didn't need me to do it but it made me feel important and I loved it”, Lawton told me.
When it came time for Lawton to go to college, he was encouraged to pursue whatever career, goal, or adventure he wanted. There was never any expectation that he should return to the Farm, and he states the he never wanted the Farm to choose him. Being granted permission to pursue other avenues, actually gave him the choice to come back to the Farm. Lawton hopes that his children will be involved in the Farm but he will offer them this same empowerment, to follow their dreams. As for now, they will ride through the orchards in the truck with him, and learn lessons that have been handed down from the generations who worked and loved this dusty, red dirt of Pearson Farm.
Just as I asked Mr. Al and Lawton about lessons learned from their dads, I asked Lawton's children to share things their daddy has taught them. I LOVE, LOVE their responses…. and I know you will too
Adeline- “How to be brave... to hunt.... about peaches.... to love candy.... and to be kind to others”
Cort- “How to pick peaches......how to tell if they are ripe or not....what a button peach looks like”
Sutton- “He taught me about peaches but I forgot......be kind...... to fish.... to hunt......to be a good farmer..... and to be a good brother”
For all you dad's out there…..Pearson Farm wishes you all, a Very Happy Father's Day!