8/13/2011

Happy Birthday to my father.

We all have dates that we learned early in our lives because they have special significance. July 14 - my birthday. December 25th - Christmas and my mama's birthday. August 13 - Daddy's birthday.

Robert Bernard Diggle - born August 13, 1914 - died August 29, 1993.
 Memorial history

This week when I was cleaning my office I found an old letter tucked in among some other papers. I recognized the distinctive handwriting immediately. A letter from Daddy to his father in 1943. He wrote it to his father, S.L. Diggle from Biloxi, MS where he was training to be an airplane mechanic on big US Air Force bomber planes. He was 29 years old. After the training he was shipped out to a base in India (now Pakistan)  where he served until the war ended.

Most of the letter was catch-up stuff. How are you - this is how I am. But one sentence spoke for so many of our serice men - then and now. "I wonder if there will be a job for me when I get home?"



His question hovered in the back of my mind leading me to think about how he did find a job when he got home. About how your career makes a turn you never expected.

He was a solo-preneur before anyone thought up that word. He was a traveling salesman - who worked on commission. He was not trained as a salesman - its a job he fell into after he came home from WWII. He was born from Irish roots and he had "the gift of gab". People liked him. He was a natural.

At first he traveled North and South Carolina by car carrying catalogs of a variety of the new machines to make housework easier.  He drove through the small towns making stops at their general stores. Later, when he sold for a single company not for a variety of products, he moved up to flying to cover larger territories across the US where he marketed to the new larger stores specializing in "home appliances." He planned his trips on Monday and traveled three or four days a week. He was paid by the amount he sold and whether he met his sales goals for the week, month or quarter.

His desk in the bedroom was his office. He kept his files in perfect order - with a well-thumbed Rolodek on the top of his desk near the telephone. I never really saw how well-organized he was until I cleaned his desk drawers after he died.

Whenever he changed companies or products - he changed his sales pitch. His years in the business trained him to see what the customer needed and to describe his product in those terms. He prided himself on his ability to "make a sale."

Now as I think about him I see his business model as something I should think about.

I too am a solo-preneur. My business problems are similar to those Daddy faced.  His was how to make the next sale. Mine is where to schedule the next gig. Who will want to know about my programs? How can I create interest in their having me present the programs for their audiences?

Like Daddy, my desk is my office and I sit near the telephone or the cell phone.

How did he do it?

I wish I had understood more about his skills.  How I would like to call him for advice.



5 comments:

Sean said...

Wow, just wow. Thank you so much for this.

Robin S. Fox said...

I remember Boboo's office spot along the wall of his bedroom, and how he spent time there even in retirement. Mostly I remember the yellow pads of paper and the way he would smile when he talked about sending letters to various customer service departments, telling a story about something not quite right, and how he loved ending those letters with a simple, "How come?"

I was there most often in the beginning of my career when I covered North Carolina out of NYC for Chemical Bank. Always, I tried to spend at least one night on Buchanan Street with he and Lulu -- I loved those visits.

He would ask me about my client meetings and remind me he had traveled for business, too.

I wish now that I had asked him more questions... isn't that always the way?

Love, Robin

ELLOUISESTORY said...

Robin:
So glad you mentioned those yellow pads. I remembered them after I finished the post and wished I had added them - but.
They loved your coming to spend the night. I believe he called the small bedroom - "Robin's Nest".
Ah, the letters. I have a few of those letters - I particularly love the one he wrote to a company when five of us - Lynda, me, Karen, Mama and him - were working for the company on an independent project.
Daddy did have a way with words.
The letter I particularly treasure is one he wrote to me the first year I was in Nurse's Training and desperately homesick. Some bits of good advice - from his life experience.

MissDazey said...

This is a beautiful birthday tribute. I love your Dad's closing line in letters, "How come?"

Got to share this, my Dad's birthday is August 25, 1909. He passed in 1993, one of my grandsons was both that same year on his great-grandpa's birthday, August 25.

Anonymous said...

What a great tribute to your Daddy-Mine-Hank-was born on August 27, 1923 and passed way too soon on April 16, 1988 at 64 years-I miss him every day-and his "I love You too Sissy-" as I was the only daughter with 3 sons-Just needed to say I enjoyed this so much and Thanks!