Dear Next Generation: Advice From a 100-Year-Old Reader

By Dear Next Generation
Dear Next Generation
Dear Next Generation
June 8, 2021 Updated: June 8, 2021

In these troubled times and with some of our young folks having more than two sets of grandparents as a result of one, two, or more divorces, I do think that someway and somehow the kids need to know their grandpas and grandmas. I say these things as so many do not know their family.

I’m only 100 years old and have a great life and only [had] two careers.

One of my grandpas was an ironworker who built bridges, tank farms, and buildings all over southwest Virginia and those areas. The other grandpa, a farmer, was a great man to me. I spent summers on their farm.

I say to young folks, try your best to know your folks—they know stuff—they have stories that, if you listen, will give lots of help now and in your future.

Much of their lives will give you much pride, some fun, and admiration.

I do hope that some kids who know how much this meant to me will lay aside the smartphones, less times in gangs and parties with drugs and booze. Devote some quality time to your ancestors.

Yours truly,

Tom Adams Jr, Mississippi


I grew up in the ’50s in a typical middle-class subdivision of tract homes built after the war. My father was a Navy veteran and my mother was a stay-at-home mom most of the time unless the family needed some financial help. We lived a modest life of hard-working people. Following the war, it took a while for jobs to reappear, and men felt quite lucky to have one. My dad and mom always found some way to pay the bills. When the work was slow or the weather was bad, my dad would work painting houses. My mom would go to work as a server and earn tips and a small salary.

When I was about 10 years old, my father gave me one of the most important lessons of my life. My parents were talking about people who were out of work and just waiting for the mill or factory to open or to be called back to work. My dad said to me, “Don’t ever let me hear you say you can’t find a job.” He said you can get a bucket and a brush and start knocking on every door in the neighborhood and ask the lady of the house if she would like her windows washed or if there was any other job you might do for her.

I have never forgotten that lesson, and now I see people purposely not working to stay on unemployment and making excuses for not working. I took my dad’s lesson and I was never unable to find work. Here I am 74 years old and still getting up every day and going to work and loving it.

I would advise young people today to seek out opportunities. Don’t close your mind to one direction based on your education or what your degree is in, especially if you discover you are not happy there. Find something you can love for a time, and don’t think you cannot change directions again if something better comes along. I have changed direction many times over 50-plus years. I tried and failed at some, moved on from others to something better, and for 25 years now I have what I was looking for. Most importantly, do something you love that also makes you happy.

Jim Blair, Pennsylvania


My mother once told me “You are who you hang out with,” which I later learned was her adaptation of Jim Rohn’s quote, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Looking back, it was some of the most sage advice I ever received. Who you spend time with influences who you are and the person you will eventually become. Who you are with can elevate you as much as it can bring you down. Life is long, and the people you choose to take with you on this long, joyous, sometimes treacherous journey, are critical to your joy, your success, and your ability to fulfill your purpose on this Earth.

So as my mom said, pay attention, and choose your group of five carefully.

Kerri Gaumer Freidl, Pennsylvania


What advice would you like to give to the younger generations?

We call on all of our readers to share the timeless values that define right and wrong, and pass the torch, if you will, through your wisdom and hard-earned experience. We feel that the passing down of this wisdom has diminished over time, and that only with a strong moral foundation can future generations thrive.

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