Take Donuts to Lunch & Other Lessons from My Dad

For Father’s Day, I’d like to share some things my Dad taught me.

Take Donuts to Lunch

Going to work with my Dad at his mattress factory provided a number of treats, including sliding down the wide, glossy, smooth, wooden shoot that sent mattresses gliding from the second floor to the first. Then there was a seat at the counter of Tom’s lunch to enjoy a plate of hot dogs and beans casserole. Lunch often included Donuts, a local panhandler and alcoholic who would hit up my Dad for money as we walked across the street for our lunch date. It all seemed very natural because that’s the way it always was – the three of us on our swivel stools at the counter of Tom’s Lunch enjoying our meals together.  I asked my Dad why he took donuts to lunch instead of just giving him money. “When someone on the street asks you for money buy them something to eat instead. You never know what they’re going to do with the money, and everyone could use a good meal and some company.”

Lesson 1 – Give with Integrity

The Fire and Accounts Payable

After serving in the military my Dad attended and graduated from law school, but when his father died, my Dad took over the family mattress business where a number of family members were employed. The factory was in Chelsea, Massachusetts, a city famous, or infamous, for its fires. Back in those days box springs were stuffed with horse hair – very flammable. Next door to his factory was a lumber yard – very flammable. One night we got the call. “Your factory is on fire.” We could see the smoke from our home in Marblehead many miles away. The factory burned to the ground. My father was devastated and he was never the same again.

One of the things my Dad grieved the most was the death of his pet bird. When all was said and done the only thing that remained un-charred was his accounts payable ledger that had been locked in the safe.  In the weeks that followed my Dad visited each of his vendors carrying the accounts payable ledger and promised to make good on his debt. And so he did. The accounts receivable ledger burned in the fire, and I doubt he ever recovered what was owed to him.

Lesson 2 – Act with Integrity, no matter what. No excuses.

World War II and Cigarette Butts

During World War II my Dad’s army buddies would take a few drags from a cigarette then crush the remains under their boots as a way of teasing German soldiers who begged for cigarettes. The U.S. army guys did the same with chocolate. They would eat a few bites, then crush the rest under their boots. My Dad thought this was cruel and inhumane, so he gave his un-smoked portions to the German prisoners. He also shared his chocolate bars with them. My Dad told me, “When you treat others with a lack of humanity you lose your own.”

Lesson 3 – Treat others with integrity, no matter what. No excuses.


With the exception of the Donuts episodes, which I experienced first-hand, none of these stories was told to me by my Dad. He did not do things to be noticed. He just did them because he believed it was the right thing to do.

Lesson 4 – Be humble.

Post Script

My Dad was not a perfect human being, and being a Dad was challenging for him, especially when adolescence struck – and it does strike. For this reason and because he was so devastated by the fire he became lost to me before he was gone. But I will always and forever be grateful for the lessons he taught by being the person he was. Thanks Dad.

A message to Dads:

You’re daughters need you. Not just when they’re young and cute. They need you when they are awkward teenagers. They need you when they are older to take their hands and guide them across the bridge from home to the world.

Other items of interest:

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25 Responses to Take Donuts to Lunch & Other Lessons from My Dad

  1. John E. Smith June 20, 2010 at 3:06 am #

    Lovely and poignant thoughts about your father and about true leadership and humanity. Thanks for sharing with us.

    John E. Smith recently posted…Of Cats and Change . . .My Profile

  2. Susan Mazza June 20, 2010 at 9:27 am #

    Wow Anne. Both moving and insightful. Thank you for sharing the best of your father with us.
    Susan Mazza recently posted…Schedule You on Your To Do ListMy Profile

  3. Gwyn Teatro June 20, 2010 at 1:01 pm #

    Dear Anne,
    Your story is very moving and your father, extraordinary.
    Thank you for sharing it. You are pretty extraordinary too.
    Gwyn Teatro recently posted…Communication… Two Good Things About Yesterday.My Profile

  4. Dorothy Dalton June 20, 2010 at 2:53 pm #

    Anne – moving and timeless insight. What a great role model – in any age.
    Dorothy Dalton recently posted…The value of passive candidatesMy Profile

  5. Marion Chapsal June 20, 2010 at 4:18 pm #

    Thank you, Sister Anne for this sincere and loving homage to your father.
    We can recognize many of your dad’s qualities in yourself.
    Generosity, Integrity and Humility.
    And a loving daughter.
    Marion Chapsal recently posted…Empowering Women: Brussels WorkshopsMy Profile

    • Anne June 20, 2010 at 4:55 pm #

      Dear John, Susan, Gwyn, Dorothy, and Marion – I am honored on behalf of my Dad for each and all of your comments. I am humbled by your heartfelt attentions.

      May your children and your children’s children and many generations to come pay you honor. We are all parents to someones.

    • Anne June 21, 2010 at 10:50 pm #

      Merci Soeur Marion – You have honored my Dad with your comments and made me appreciate him all the more. With humility and gratitude, Thank you.

  6. ava June 21, 2010 at 2:40 pm #

    What a beautiful and moving tribute to your father, Anne.

    Thank you for sharing with us the lessons he shared with you by the way he lived his life.
    ava recently posted…Lessons from Bud the Beagle at Home DepotMy Profile

    • Anne June 21, 2010 at 10:49 pm #

      Thanks so much Ava. Your comment and the comments of others have allowed me to cherish my Dad all the more. With gratitude.

  7. Mathew July 7, 2010 at 11:51 pm #

    Anne – Thanks for sharing these wonderful insights into Zeiti’s life. I hope all is and continues to be well with you and yours.

    • Anne July 8, 2010 at 12:26 am #

      You are most welcome Mat. Thanks for the comment. And remember to take donuts to lunch dear nephew.

  8. Susan July 8, 2010 at 1:24 pm #

    A beautiful tribute to Dad. Thanks for sharing.

    • Anne July 8, 2010 at 3:21 pm #

      You are most welcome Susan. Glad you forwarded it to Lindy. Hope you sent it to Jesse too.

  9. Lindy July 8, 2010 at 1:39 pm #

    I second Mathew – thank for the wonderful picture of our zadie. For those of us who only knew him for a limited amount of time, it is nice to know what an admirable man he was.

    • Anne July 8, 2010 at 3:21 pm #

      Lindy – Thank you for your comment. It means a great deal to me. Zadie was a very honorable man, and It’s wonderful to see that his grandchildren recognize that about him. Glad you got the post. I didn’t have your email so couldn’t send it directly. Now I do.

  10. Alexa July 13, 2010 at 4:57 pm #

    Zadie seemed to take the honorable approach to life. It’s great to know our Zadie was such a good person. I’d like to know more about his troublesome times after the fire. I’ve heard generalizations, but not specifics.

    • Anne July 13, 2010 at 5:31 pm #

      Hi Alexa – So good to hear from you. Back in the day, kids were protected from a lot of “stuff” that went on in their parents’ world, so I don’t have much more specific info but am willing to share impressions and what I was told. Call me and we can talk.

  11. vicki June 19, 2011 at 10:43 am #

    ah, anne – this is beautiful. and i can see so many of his fine attributes in you, my friend. once again, i think we lead parallel lives in some ways – i too adored my father as a young child, went through the distancing of adolescence but have been fortunate enough to reconnect with the lovely man he is and always has been. thank you for sharing. hugs, bubbles

  12. Dorothy Dalton June 19, 2011 at 10:48 am #

    Still a moving post Anne with a second reading – with wonderful messages for all.
    Dorothy Dalton recently posted…HELP! I hate my job!My Profile

  13. Jesse Stoner June 19, 2011 at 4:08 pm #

    I was deeply touched by your post, Anne – your lovely stories and lessons about your dad, as well as your important message at the end reminding fathers that their daughters need them at all stages.
    Jesse Stoner recently posted…What Brain Science Tells Us- 10 Tips to Prime Your Brain for SuccessMy Profile

    • Anne June 19, 2011 at 6:03 pm #

      Thank you Dorothy, Vicki and Jesse for sharing your thoughts on remembering my Dad. Bittersweet. Vicki – I’m heartened to hear that you were able to reconnect with your Dad. Enjoy. Cherish, and know that you might be doing some of that for me too.

  14. Cherry Woodburn June 20, 2011 at 6:15 am #

    Thanks for sharing your dad and your pain about the distance that came between the two of you. As you say, he wasn’t perfect but he sounds quite impressive. My personal favorite is ““When you treat others with a lack of humanity you lose your own.”” History and life experience shows this to be so true and I don’t think most people recognize it. Hugs to you, Cherry

    • Anne June 20, 2011 at 6:35 am #

      Cherry, Jesse, Dorothy and Vicki – Your comments have enriched the experience of remembering my father. I so wish every girl could be the apple of her father’s eye. It feeds you for years and sends you into the world with a sense of worth.

  15. Jane Perdue June 20, 2011 at 3:18 pm #

    Anne – the apple of you didn’t fall far from your Dad’s tree…thanks for sharing such a lovely tribute!

    • Anne June 20, 2011 at 6:24 pm #

      Jane – Speechless
      Thank you

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