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The Old Wooden Box

It wasn’t fancy, and certainly not valuable, but the old wooden box my father used for his shoeshine kit holds a unique place in my heart and symbolizes far more than its simple function might suggest. Repurposed from some parts box he once used as an electronics technician, this box stands as a testament to his values and beliefs—a tangible legacy that continues to influence my life.

As a child, I didn't quite grasp the significance of that old wooden box, but I was intrigued by my Dad's dedication and thoroughness when it came to cleaning and polishing his dress shoes. My father wasn't a corporate executive or a high-profile salesman; his work often took him to hospitals, universities, and movie theaters, where he would repair medical scan equipment and devices used in research or projection equipment and sound systems. Despite the varied environments and the people he interacted with, he always took immense pride in his appearance. His shoes were always clean and polished to a shine, serving as a small but powerful reflection of his character and professionalism.

Even at a young age, I marveled at the nature of his shoe-shining routine. The old wooden box would appear, and my father would set out his brushes, clothes, and polishes. He approached this task not as a mere chore but as an integral part of preparing for the day ahead. Watching him, I learned that attention to detail and pride in one's appearance isn't about vanity but respect for oneself and the customer. This was a lesson I didn't fully understand at the time but have come to appreciate deeply as an adult.

The old wooden box my father used was no ordinary container; it represented his values. Crafted from the remnants of his professional life, the box told a story of resourcefulness and ingenuity. It wasn't shiny or new, but sturdy and reliable, much like the man who used it. The box served as a reminder that true worth often lies in functionality and purpose rather than outward appearances.

Reflecting on those childhood memories, I see now that my father had no idea of the life lessons he was imparting to his pre-adolescent son merely through his daily routine. It was about more than just having the best-looking shoes; it was about instilling a sense of pride, discipline, and respect.

Fifty-plus years later, I still carry the lessons of that old wooden box with me. My father's insistence on taking pride in one's appearance has become a significant part of my life. Whether heading to work or running errands, I always look my best before heading into the world. It’s an act of respect not just for myself, but for those I encounter.

As a baseball coach, this philosophy played an important role in my coaching principles. I believe that how you present yourself on the field impacts your performance. My insistence on my players dressing for success may have seemed odd to some, but it became a cornerstone of our team culture. I firmly believe in the adage: "If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good, and if you play good, you win." This mindset turned out to be incredibly effective, and my team’s exceptional performance on the field was a testament to the truth of this principle.

Through the seemingly simple act of shining shoes, my father taught me that paying attention to the small details can lead to success in life. His insistence on taking pride in something as basic as polished shoes was not just about appearances but about embodying a mindset of excellence and care in everything you do. It was a lesson in character, perseverance, and the importance of presenting oneself with dignity.

Even now, I still use that same old wooden box to hold my shoeshine kit. Whenever I open it, I am reminded of my father and the values he passed down to me. The box, worn and aged, is a symbol of continuity and tradition—a link to the past that informs my present. It stands as a quiet but powerful reminder of the man who shaped my life in many ways.

This Father’s Day, I celebrate the man who taught me the importance of integrity and diligence through his everyday actions. Though he may not have been aware of the profound impact he was having, his legacy endures in the lessons I carry forward. The old wooden box is more than just a container for shoeshine supplies; it is a vessel of wisdom, care, and pride. My father's legacy lives on through it, and the life lessons it represents. Taking pride in one’s appearance, paying attention to details, and striving for excellence in even the smallest aspects of life—these are values that have shaped and continue to guide me.

The old wooden box remains a cherished artifact in my life, not just as a practical tool but as a symbol of the enduring influence my father had on me. Happy Father's Day, Dad. Thank you for the lessons, the values, and the love you instilled in me. Your old wooden box continues to shine brightly in my life, just as your memory does in my heart.


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