I’ve known Woody Keller for a long time through a mutual friendship with Sam Hammer of the Crabs Claw Inn.  A loan officer at OceanFirst Bank, published author and diehard fan of the University of Tennessee Woody is a longtime resident of Lavallette.  Tuesday he sent me an email which made quite an impression so I asked his permission to share which he quickly approved.  The following was written for his granddaughter Grace who is a senior at Toms River High School North, editor of the school newspaper and getting ready to make her college decision. The title is “Why I Give Demerits to Barbarians.”

As parents, we hold our children accountable to see what they can do and to have them strive to do it.  They learn this and do it for us.

Eventually a switch flips and they begin to hold themselves accountable.  They work toward setting and achieving standards for their own gratification.  That ethic makes everyone around them better.

I want my grandchildren to know how to hold a fork and cut their food.  Why?  Someday they will be at a dinner.  They will have something important to say or contribution to make.  Impressions are real.  I want that moment to be focused on them, not on how they stab their potato or scratch their heads and hair.

Potty words are the offensive language of Barbarians.  There are better words.  I want others to hear what my grandchildren are saying.  Mumbles and foul language are distracting.

Finally, I polished my father’s shoes when I was 8 years old.  He showed me how he wanted it done.  Then I was accountable for his shoes.  I polished his and my own shoes to please him.  Eventually I was on my own.  He wasn’t there.  The switch flipped.  I polished my own shoes because I was accountable for my own standard.

That is why I give demerits to Barbarians.  They stab their food, scratch their heads at the table, mumble potty words, and never polish their shoes.

Grace…listen to your Grandpa.  He knows what he’s talking about.

Note-Woody told me that his grandchildren know they can’t wear hats at the table when they are eating at his house because Barbarians wear them.



Grace Keller
Grace Keller






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