Fifty years ago, on the Main Street of a little town in Lavina, Montana, an older gentleman gave a knife to a young child. Naturally, he wanted to teach a lesson — so, he presented it to me, handle, first. It was the most magnificent rubber knife that I have ever enjoyed.
This was back in the day when everyone gave directions by using the phone-booth, next to the little Post Office, as a reference point. Men of that generation were always building something. Seems like Dad and I were in town to help pour a sidewalk in front of that new Post Office. It was my lucky day to be the beneficiary of Mr. J. C. ‘Jim’ Jensen.
His generosity is the beginning of this story about the Jensen family.
Jimmy (son of Mr. J. C. ‘Jim’ Jensen) was always the most interested in my life story when the chapters were about bowling and building. As an inventor, he was interested in my construction techniques. He would take the good ones of mine and offer the best of his ideas, to make it even better. Tangible to those he helped were the Sand-Points driven to provide water. Visible to the community was the lighted Ice-Windmill for the entertainment pleasure of all.
Carl (aka J. C. Jensen III – son of Jimmy) was comprised of the material of which heroes are made — handsome devil on the outside and borderline saint on the inside. The one thing that always interrupted my play with the rubber knife was when Carl and his college buddies came to help my Dad on the ranch. After lunch, they would play ball with me. Literally — I was the ball. Tossed from one to the other — sometimes, it was a full-body catch. Other times, only the last-second grab of an arm, or leg, kept me from hurtling to the earth, below.
Through high school, Carl supported every cause that our senior class dreamed up. My first sale of Cutco knives, as a freshman in college, was made in his kitchen. After working the last two years of my college crusade for a CPA firm, I was asked by Carl if I wanted to ‘help’ with the Ranch books. That was in the olden days when accounting was done in paper Journals and Ledgers.
With hindsight, I now realize the ‘help’ requested was for my benefit, not Carl’s. He was quite capable of doing the Books and had done so, successfully, for many years. His keen eye observed a young accountant, who needed to build confidence. I was offered that opportunity.
Then, Carl blazed new trails in the use of Excel spreadsheets on the first Personal Computers. As I might be struggling to make something work in the Land of DOS, I would think of that hero of mine leading the way. Weakness gave way to strength, as a path through the technological wilderness was found.
Speaking of strength, what does it take to stand firm in the belief that life is all about the people? If there is an episode in the annuals of Lavina history to provide the answer, it is the one of a new Library and Gymnasium. Having served on the School Board for many years, Carl understood the importance of education and community. In small towns, the School is the anchor keeping ships of families safe.
In the mind of J. C. (Carl) Jensen, the cost of a little Brick and Mortar was a small price to pay for the eternal dividends from that one investment. He gave what he had, personally and financially, to bring a dream into reality.
Tough and Tender
Supportive of these men of the Jensen family are women of toughness and tenderness. Theirs is a story of nurturing everyone through the hardships of Ranch life.
From the outside looking in, the full measure of their generosity is unknown to many. From within the familial core, these Jensen women offer goodness to all — and, they continue to make sacrifices that will engender the greatest rewards.
As this chapter of the story about the gifts of the Jensen Family concludes, the question remains: “Why was I handed a knife?” Just, maybe, Jim Jensen knew that cutting-edge generosity was the secret to slicing through the thickets of resistance on our individual journeys of Building Dynamic Relationships.
Craig, Scott, and Clint (Carl’s sons) continue to live the Family traditions. They begin each conversation by honoring the gifts of the Past, respecting the opportunities of the Present, and dreaming big, big, thoughts as they consider the abundance of very bright Futures!