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When it comes to your life, choose your rut carefully
The Back Forty
By Roger Pond

This is a busy time for high school seniors.

They’re planning for graduation, looking for summer jobs (or full time jobs), and wondering how many classes they can skip before somebody catches them.

Most of all these kids are getting lots of advice. “Be sure to get home before it’s too late; and don’t drive around without any fuel in the car.” That kind of stuff.

It’s no wonder kids become stressed, even irrational, at this time of year. All that advice begins to wear on a person after awhile.

That’s what happened when my son was in high school years ago. Russ had talked to an Army recruiter before graduation and decided to join the Army.

His mother and I supported the idea, but joining the armed services is an important decision. Not something to rush into.

So I started giving advice. “You’ll have to make your own decision,” I counseled. “But you might want to talk to the Navy and Air Force recruiters before you rush into anything.”

“No, I’ve made up my mind,” Russ said. “I’m going to join the Army. I’m tired of people telling me what to do.”

(Out of the frying pan and into the fire, as we used to say.)

That’s why advice should be given in small doses, like the letter my Uncle Willis wrote to graduating seniors 50 years ago. I received the letter from a man who graduated from Ansonia (Ohio) High School in 1956. My uncle was superintendent there for many years.

How many of us can still find anything we received 50 years ago?

Like those 1956 Chevys, for example. Why did we sell those 1956 Chevys?

I believe my uncle’s letter was printed in the Ansonia High Yearbook. I’m going to share it because I think it’s as good today as it was then.

Dear Seniors:
Long ago and far away in the Midwestern country there once stood a road sign at a spot where a side road left the main road. One who has lived in our American middlewest of 40 years ago can readily understand; but it will be hard for one who has known only our modern improved highways to visualize such a situation.

Nevertheless the condition was standard and the sign was real, and it read as follows: ‘Choose your rut carefully; you will be in it for the next 20 miles.’

As I write these lines for the 1956 Ansonia Oracle, I am tempted to repeat this wise advice with, of course, a slight variation. I would address it to the Seniors of 1956 and it would read thusly: ‘Choose your rut carefully; you may be in it for the rest of your life.’ I will not insult your intelligence by enlarging upon the subject; you know what I mean.”

Very truly yours,
Willis V. Pond

This farm news was published in the June 7, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.