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A Little Lesson 1880 Style – Responsibilities of Ownership

White taught his sons that ownership comes with responsibilities
White taught his sons that ownership comes with responsibilities

I continue to write about the family White of Cleveland, Ohio the family behind the famous White sewing machine and later a giant in the transportation industry, White Motors. The time frame today is around 1880 when father Tom had to address his young sons request to own their own horse to ride while living on that famous street in Cleveland, Millionaires Row, Euclid Avenue. Father Tom had a very definitive philosophy about responsibility and perfection and used his sons request to teach a valuable life lesson.

The life lesson important to Tom was simple and straight forward. He would purchase the horse but with expectations. His sons had to care for the animal. His sons had to show respect for the animal and most importantly his sons were to never forget that with ownership comes responsibilities. Not very complex, is it? The point here is that Tom’s sons Windsor, Rollin and Walter the founders of White Motors carried over this lesson to everything they did in later life. When they could afford hundreds of horses on each of their country estates each animal was treated with the best of care and managed by the best people money could buy. I am told by Great Grandson, Henry Merkel that long after Tom’s death his boys always were driven by the fact that if they were not completely responsible they would lose their beloved animals.

Nothing extraordinary here I suppose except that a valuable life lesson taught early on can last a life time. I suppose the sidebar to this establishes the importance of father and family. And, oh yeah the value of personal responsibility and that without it there will be consequences. How refreshing. Tom’s sons became giants in the Auto industry early on rivaling Henry Ford and then later on becoming one of the largest truck manufacturers in the world, White Motors.

Historically White Motors can be credited to playing a major role in winning World War I. Every White vehicle was the best and the U.S. Army knew it. So much so that son Walter was appointed director for the whole European Theater.

Valuable life lesson, no questions. Can we learn from history? No questions. Are certain standards for human conduct timeless? No question. Can we do with a large dose of personal responsibility today? I will let you, my reader, decide.

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