April '21

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1 0 G R A P H I C S P R O A P R I L 2 0 2 1 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M IN THE TRENCHES R I C K W I L L I A M S I t was a hot summer day in the north- east Texas oileld town of Talco, in my dear grandmother's little side yard next to the oil top road she lived on. Today we would call that place a shack, but right then it was one of my favorite places. It was Mom's house. at day she entertained her two lit- tle tow-headed grandsons, just barely old enough to be in school but then out for summer break, by giving us a bit of ba- con tied to a string. After summer rains, large, red crawdads would build little tow- ers of mud to keep the rain run-o from ooding their dwellings. With skill and patience, a little boy could sh them out with a bit of meat on a string, and I got mine out rst. I gently teased him toward the top of his mud house, then startled him by ipping him out into the bright sunshine. Looking at the giant on the end of the string, me, scared him plenty and he backed up under my brother with his claws high in the air. e claws brushed the bottom edge of my kid brother's shorts, only a few inches o the ground as he squatted down facing his own crawdad hole. Reexively, my red pincher dude clamped on to those short pants and the reworks began! Feeling a tug near his backside and see- ing that red rascal menacingly climbing up his shorts, little brother began screaming and running at top speed in no particular direction, dangling the nightmare at his behind. I was fascinated and amused with the commotion but laughing too hard to be any help at all. But the most amazing thing was seeing my 60-something-year-old grandmother come running like a varsity sprinter, rush- ing to the rescue, cutting him o at an angle. As fast as lightning, with one well- placed swat, she sent that pincher-equipped critter ying o in a red blur. What an amazing woman! Mom wasn't a normal grandmother—she was a superhero in a calico dress. She was faster than a speed- ing bullet, more powerful than a locomo- tive … well, I imagined, anyway. Had this, and maybe a few other things not happened as they did, I would have never seen the other sides of my sweet grandmother. We were lucky to have her, blessed to get to spend time with her, and at odd and unexpected moments to see a glimpse of what was just below the surface. She would have protected us with her life, with a furry no one would have imagined, and with a grandmother's love that totally trumped everything else. Yes, I'm sure I've shared this little story before, but it was an early insight in my life as to how easy it is to underestimate people. And I have been especially guilty of doing so through my years of being in business, regularly underestimating members of my sta without realizing it. e sign and graphics business has been my full-time vocation for decades, and I could keep a pretty good rein on it. If some- thing was hard, dangerous, or challenging, I usually did it myself. But, when we started a second business, which I had no time to take full control of, I had to let others step up to the plate. e new company, WPC Services, connected to but separate from our commercial sign business, became a testing ground for what my sons could do, and what other, mostly young people could do when allowed to CRAWDADS AND SUPERHEROES

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