From the Heartland: The Price of Admission

After the last VITAL issue, I received several comments from readers on the story I shared about a valuable life lesson I learned from my father. Well, he didn’t raise no dummy, so I thought I’d share another!

We were living in Huron, SD when I turned eight years old. We moved there so my dad, a banker, could finish his college degree, from what is now a defunct institution, Huron College. We lived in a small apartment across the street from what I thought was the most amazing and magical place on earth - the grounds for the South Dakota State Fair!

Shortly after my eighth birthday, my dad and I made it to the Fairgrounds to attend their dirt track races. I loved the smell, sound and thrill of watching the local dare-devils put their skills and homemade race cars to the test. On most race nights, I could only experience the thunder of the cars from my bedroom. But on this night, I would actually be there!

I could hardly contain my excitement as my dad was purchasing our tickets. Even more than loving the races, I really just loved being with my dad. I vividly recall him telling the lady at the ticket booth that he needed one adult ticket and a ticket for an eight-year old. As soon as he received the tickets and stepped away from the booth, I immediately said to my dad, “Why didn’t you just tell her I was seven-years old? The sign says seven and under are free! How would she ever even know?” My dad turned to me and said, “I could have done that, but if I did, not only would I have been lying, I would have been stealing too.”

I can tell you that 40 years later, I have no recollection of anything that happened during the races that night. But those few words from my dad are etched in my memory. I’ve repeated them so often to my daughters that they make fun of me.

Isn’t life funny how we anticipate events or a final destination, but yet how oftentimes the truly memorable things happen and the valuable lessons are learned during the journey? That night, I’m sure my dad was hoping he could give me a good time and some memories at the race track. But I got all I needed at the ticket booth.



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