The day I wore suspenders to school

Last week I began to wear suspenders again. This reminds me of an event in 1956 or 1957. I was enrolled in the fifth grade of school in Rector, Arkansas, where my father was the pastor of the local United Pentecostal Church.

As I was getting ready for school one morning, I couldn’t find my belt. When I told my dad, he presented me with a pair of suspenders. I protested. The boys in my class didn’t wear suspenders. I didn’t want to be the brunt of their ridicule.

“Wear these suspenders,” Dad said. “If anyone makes fun of you, just put your thumbs behind the suspenders. Pull them out, let them snap, and say, ‘It’s not every day a boy gets to wear suspenders to school.’”

Then Dad said something that convinced me to follow his advice. “If other boys are not wearing suspenders the next day, I’ll give you one dollar.”

A dollar was a lot of money in the 1950s.

I wore the suspenders. I said what Dad told me to say. The next day, nearly every boy in the class wore suspenders. For those who had none, a classmate whose father owned a clothing store brought a shoebox full of suspenders so they wouldn’t be left out.

I learned some lessons. There’s no need to avoid a good course of action merely because no one else is doing it. It’s possible to influence others. Parents can have creative ideas. You may miss a dollar, but you can still wind up with a good story to tell.

“A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!” (Proverbs 15:23, NKJV).