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Foundations

Life, liberty and lessons learned.

Starting From Scratch

(Part One) – My parents instilled, in me, a sense of self-reliance and hard work.

We grew up – 2 parents and 6 children – living in a 1,200 square foot house, three bedrooms and one bathroom.  I lived in that house my entire life until I got married.

Mom would make three meals a day for 8 people.  She would make a gallon of powdered milk and mix it with a gallon of regular milk, so we wouldn’t taste the chalk.  Dad, a Navy Veteran of the Korean War, had bought a small hardware store in De Pere in 1962, and that’s the job I first remember him in.

Each day the summer before my thirteenth birthday, I rode my bike from Pilgrim Street – one block off Oneida near the stadium – to Harry Wery’s Florida Fruit Market on Velp Avenue where we would ride out to the fields to pick strawberries and cucumbers.

The next summer, my buddy Paul and I put an ad in the Press Gazette saying we were house painters.  Well, we got some jobs that summer.  I guess, eventually, we were actual house painters.

About that time, some new folks moved into the neighborhood to be closer to the stadium.  Jack Noel, worked three jobs to support his family of 5 children.  He worked for the City of Green Bay; he worked as a part-time bartender; AND he worked with his brother, Bob, as the equipment managers for the Green Bay Packers!  Eventually Jack Noel would become my father-in-law.  At the time, however, he just needed someone to carry equipment way up to the top of the press boxes; that was me.  I cleaned shoes and helmets after the games and clean up after 60 very messy guys.  I vacuumed hundreds of yards of carpeting and scrubbed a dozen toilets several times each day.  But I got to be in the locker rooms – and on the field – and sometimes I got tips!

Nowadays, folks want to start at the top and then work their way up from there.  I always found greater value in starting at the bottom.

Starting From Scratch
Part One
My parents instilled, in me, a sense of self-reliance and hard work. We grew up – 2 parents and 6 children – living in a 1,200 square foot house, three bedrooms and one bathroom.  I lived in that house my entire life until I got married. Read >
If It’s Worth Doing…
Part Two
My dad had a little hardware store in De Pere in the 60’s and mid-70’s.  The recession of 1974 did him in.  The bank called his loan due, he sold off everything, including his extra car and his cottage. Read >
Finishing Strong
Part Three
I met Suzan Noel at age 13 when her family moved in a block away from us.  We would eventually get married one week after my 20th birthday. Read >
We Did Build That
Part Four
In April 1994, after 18 years and 6 locations, I resigned as President of Macco’s Floor Covering Centers, sold my interest in the company and exited the retail floor covering business. Read >
Peaks & Valleys
Part Five
“Sue’s tests were not good today – I claim Jesus’ name over her health.  I cannot lose her – she has been there for 35 years as a friend and partner – Lord give me strength to be there for her.  Thank you, John.”  Read >
Citizen Legislator
Part Six
This past spring, we were discussing how to make the pie bigger throughout Northeastern Wisconsin.  We began talking about the importance of quality leadership representing our region in Madison.  Read >

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