Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Principles as Taut as a Full Sail

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Principles as Taut as a Full Sail

Article excerpt

My father was very much a man of principle, though not all his principles made sense to my sister and me. Take food, for instance. He hated to cut into the second Sunday chicken. When one of us asked for more, he would invariably try to fill the order with scraps from the first bird.

"Good heavens, George, there's another whole chicken right there," my mother would say. "Probably Katharine wants some more, too."

If my sister nodded her head, my father would give in and even ask me what piece I wanted - unnecessarily, of course. Sometimes I would actually kick Katharine underneath the table to get her to pass up her plate, too. If we became too greedy, though, he was likely to come out with one of his favorite statements: "Do you eat to live, or live to eat?" There was no good answer to that. My father, being a minister, had a lot of other principles, too, many of which came up for discussion at the dinner table. Most of them I went along with. We should continue to buy from the local grocery store and not patronize the big supermarkets, which were going to run everybody else out of business. OK by me. Chevrolets were better than Fords, Democrats than Republicans, freezing ocean water more fun to swim in than tepid lakes and pools. There were other matters too abstruse for me to understand: If you found change in the little cup at the bottom of the telephone in a phone booth, you should call up the operator and return it. There was one principle, though, for which I gave him my unabashed love. Wherever we were, for whatever reason, if it involved a mishap involving a sailboat, he would come get us - no questions asked. This did not include times when we got ourselves into trouble through our own stupidity and were merely inconvenienced, as when we left the island we had been picnicking on too late in the day so that the wind died before we got home and we had to row, usually against the tide, sometimes well on into the night. No, I'm talking about occasions like the time we called from 40 miles away at about 11 p. …

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