At the beginning of the Great Depression, my grandfather, Louis F. Parker, and a couple of partners founded Builders Engineering Co. in St. Paul, a manufacturers’ representative to the building trades. They survived the 1930s and operated for many decades after that. I have had in a file folder for some years now a facsimile of this letter sent out in December 1932 by the fledgling company to its business associates. We reprinted it in MOQ last December and its message and tone seems even more apropos this year, so I’m sharing it here, along with our best wishes for 2009.
We have taken everything that 1932 had to offer right on the chin, but we are still here, and we are going to stay! Out of it all some good may come. We have discovered and adopted a new philosophy. Here it is:
• Keep your liver in good order, your feet warm, and don’t sit in a draft. If you have a few dollars to rattle together, rattle them while you can and get the fun out of them. If you have any bills to pay, pay them if you can. If you can’t, take the other side of the street until the stringency is over.
• During your spare time, don’t talk about appendicitis, rheumatism, and the suffering in large cities, or the increase in crime and pneumonia, but tell a new Will Rogers story. Tell it to your wife, tell it to your dog, tell it to everybody.
• If you don’t dress as well during hard times as has been your custom, put a little more shine on your shoes, and wash your neck more often. You may have to pull through with your pants deckle-edged and seat cut in strange geometrical figures and the rest of your wardrobe a little frazzled and frayed, but stick to the fight and you’ll come out of humility, frijoles, and the simple life free from fatty degeneration, and the gout.
• A little hard times is a mighty good thing. It’s a great educator. You read more, think more. You read everything and soon acquire a flow of language on current topics equal to that of a barber.
• Let’s get all the fun out of the dull period that we can. Let us learn more, love more, live more, for we may never have the privilege of enjoying hard times again. It takes a game fish to swim upstream, and we Americans are pretty good swimmers.
Notwithstanding all the discouragement of 1932, we really are glad to be alive and if you feel the same way and still think this old world is a fit place in which to live, we wish you a more prosperous New Year in 1933.
Builders Engineering Company