Category Archives: Life lessons

Frozen Moments

“Memories are the key not to the past, but to the future.”

—Corrie Ten Boom

Today’s poem is contributed by Tom Krause.

Frozen Moments

Sam Krause

You were three years old.

Balls were bouncing in the gym.
Children were running, shooting baskets.
Among all the chaos
I saw you grinning at me –
wanting me to watch you.
You waved at me – I waved at you.
You showed me how you could dribble.
The moment froze in my memory.

Souvenir of a Dad’s Lullaby

A ’20s hit triggers memories of a musical father who sang his 10 children to sleep each night.

Today’s story appeared originally in The Wall Street Journal. Barbara Corcoran spoke with reporter Marc Myers. Barbara and Marc kindly allowed Savvy Dad to share this story.

I know that I seem tough on TV’s “Shark Tank,” often tearing into business pitches, but deep down I’m really a softie. Growing up in Edgewater, N.J. in the mid-1950s with five sisters and four brothers, I loved listening to my father sing in the living room every Wednesday night with his barbershop quartet. The song he sang that touched me most was “Heart of My Heart.”

Barbara Corcoran

Barbara and her Dad

My father loved music more than anything else. A printing press foreman in Newark, N.J., he had taught himself to play guitar, piano and accordion. He also sang tenor with a group of guys he worked with and always sang at family gatherings. When I was about 5 years old, my father began singing “Heart of My Heart” each night to put us all to sleep. But since he couldn’t be in both the boys and girls’ rooms at once, he’d sing live in one and play a tape of him singing the song in the other. The next night he’d switch. READ MORE 

7 Ways My Father Influenced Who I Am

“My heroes are and were my parents. I can’t see having anyone else as my parents.”

—Michael Jordan

Today’s story contributed by Harold Herring.

my father

Harold Herring with his mother and father

When I was a freshman in college…we were asked to write a paper on the greatest man we’d ever met. It was an easy and immediate decision for me… I wrote about my Father.

Since that first year of college…I’ve met five Presidents, two Vice-Presidents, numerous Generals, Admirals, sports stars, singers, international ministry leaders and assorted other celebrities and persons in authority.

If I were asked to write the same paper during this the 25th anniversary of my 39th birthday year…I would still write about my father…for whom I will always call Daddy, so why change.

He was and still is the greatest man I’ve ever met.

My purpose in this blog is not just to write something sentimental about my father but there are several things that “Mr. Harold,” as Dad was known in our town, taught me…that will benefit and bless all who read these words. READ MORE 

Dad Sent Me To Mars

“Curiosity is one of the great secrets of happiness.”

—Bryant H. McGill

This story contributed by Peter H. Smith.

He was born in 1902 in Easley, South Carolina. No electricity, no radio, no television, no cars, no running water, and no stores — they grew food on the family farm. Outdoor kitchen and outdoor bathrooms. You get the picture.

But my dad, Hugh Smith, was a born adventurer.

Peter and his father, Hugh Smith

A small farming town could only hold him so long. In 1923, at the age of 21, he drove his Ford Model T across the country, camping along the roadside. He just wanted to “see what’s out there.” Since childhood, he was consumed with an insatiable curiosity for the world and beyond.

His first real “adventure” was Rochester Med School. But he wasn’t satisfied with just the M.D. — he later attended Johns Hopkins for a second degree in Public Health.

Working as a virologist for the Rockefeller Foundation, he would take on his next (and probably his greatest) adventure… Yellow fever.


Johnny Be Bad

“The bad boy: Always more fun.”

—Ian McShane

Today’s story is contributed by Chris Haydel.

“Stay away from that Johnny, he’s trouble,” Mom warned.

He’s a troublemaker, a bad seed. As a nurse, Mom had observed the sometimes tragic result of hanging out with “dangerous” kids.

johnny be bad

Chris Haydel Family,
Christmas 1971

It was a hot summer day in New Orleans, but to me, it had never felt cooler. I had saved up for a month, and today was the big day. The shiny long barrel. The plastic “ivory” grip. Multi-cap loading capacity. A magnificent weapon. A young boy’s dream. I had seen it in the toy aisle of a store not too far away.

Mom had gone out to run errands, but she promised to take me as soon as she got back. I was playing outside to kill time.

Johnny was outside too, but he was killing bugs with his magnifying glass. “Hey, watcha doin’?” He yelled from across the street.

“Nothing,” I mumbled, bowing my head, heeding Mom’s warning. READ MORE 

Bankrupt to “Booyah!”

“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight with no vision.”

—Helen Keller

Today’s story is contributed by Darin Kidd.

I was 25 years old. Bankrupt. Medicaid. Applying for food stamps. Car repossessed. My wife and I were at the lowest of low. Neither of us made it through college. Five kids. I felt like a total failure — as a husband, as a father, and as a provider.


Darin and his mentor, Jeff Olson

Opportunities were scarce in our small Virginia town. I needed help. Guidance. Someone to show me the way.

My Dad? A faithful Christian. A family man. Growing up, he helped others in need, even when we were scraping to get by. He was a wonderful man, and I count myself very blessed. But it was clear I needed a different kind of help, from a different kind of mentor. Life smarts. Business savvy. Principles for success. I went on the hunt…

I found Jeff Olson. He wrote a book called The Slight Edge, among others. What I learned from him has defined my life. READ MORE 


“Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you.”

—H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Today’s story is contributed by Robert Dilenschneider.

A late night phone call. To my surprise, Dad took it in the solitude of the basement. In hushed, urgent tones he spoke,

“I’m sorry, I’ve got to do it. I hope you’ll be able to understand.”

Huddled beneath the basement steps, in my secret spot, I could hear the tension in his voice.

Thus begins one of my earliest and most powerful lessons from Dad, a portrait of virtue, and an example of standing one’s ground.
father and son newspaper story

A young Robert and his father, Dil

My father, Sigmund John Dilenschneider, or “Dil” as he was known, was a newspaperman. The son of a middle class weaver, he had worked his way through school, culminating in his graduation from the esteemed Wharton School of Business in Philadelphia.

It was at Wharton, in the midst of the Great Depression in the 1930’s, that he met and married my mom. For a time they were forced to live apart with parents and friends — too poor to afford an apartment together.

But back to that basement call… READ MORE