Besides blogging, I sometimes contribute to the local newspaper. This year, I was chosen as a community columnist and had a chance to write about my father who recently died and who was instrumental in my own thoughts about investing and life values. This is what I wrote:
A father’s lesson about life, businessForty years ago, my father used to ask me to read the stock quotes to him of his holdings. Being only 12, I believed it was because his eyes were weak and I could help him read the prices. He probably had an ulterior motive, hoping that by reading the business pages, I would find myself attracted to the same hobby that he himself enjoyed — investing. My father’s ploy worked.
Dad was a career Army guy. After going to night law school because he couldn’t afford to go to medical school during the Depression, he was drafted and spent 23 years as an Army lawyer. Serving in England during World War II and handling claims after the Korean conflict, he was my mentor and my role model.
When I was 10, I used to play the 3-M Book Game called “Stocks and Bonds.” At that time, it was just about spinning a dial and marking up the new prices for all of the stocks my siblings and I would collect. By the time I was 13, I was starting to pick real stocks to buy; $300 was a lot of money for me, and I remember my first purchase of five shares of Global Marine. The next year it was five shares of Litton. I was hooked.
While some of my friends would be talking about the Dodgers, my best friend Alan Rich and I would talk about stocks in junior high. He was big on J.C. Penney; I was interested in Jones & Laughlin. We both worked hard to make good grades and get into a good college.
In high school, I was good in math and science and went on to college as a pre-med and then medical school. I never stopped following the market.
When I met my future wife, she would watch me read the Fortune 500 lists and be amazed that I could spend hours gazing at pages of numbers while she would be reading literature. Wanting to let me know that she could share my interests, she opened a brokerage account and bought a few shares.
I now write on the Internet and share my thoughts with fellow investors, often “newbies” as novices are called. I have learned that investing requires discipline, patience, self-confidence and concentration. I encourage people to learn to be good observers of the market, to listen to their own portfolios, to avoid chasing fads, to invest in quality companies and be humble when they are successful.
Lt. Colonel Sumner Freedland died this spring at 88. I still do not believe that any stock that starts with the word “General” is a good investment as he did. My favorite stock isn’t Merck. But each time I check the quotes, I think of him sitting in his Lazy-Boy recliner asking me to check another stock price. Somewhere my father is probably reading this column — and if he is, I would like him to know that his son works hard to be a good doctor, husband and father to his own children and that AT&T closed at $39.11 today.
Robert Freedland is one of 13 Tribune Community Columnists whose writing appears on the Sunday Opinion pages.
I write so many impersonal entries that I thought some of you might appreciate a little personal comment for a change. If you have any thoughts or responses, please feel free to leave them on the blog or email me at email@example.com.
Yours in investing,