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A Father’s Influence

Whether it’s fixing a flat tire, unstopping a toilet, doctoring a steer, or lighting a campfire; dad’s are some of the best teachers.

Thanks to all the dads, grandpas, uncles, brothers, friends, and neighbors who spend time with us.

John Cline, my dad, owned a welding and repair business he called The Workshop. Some of my best memories are fetching tools, painting, and working the cutting torch. At an early age I knew the difference between a phillips and a flathead. He might call out, “bring me that socket wrench with a 3/16th” or “I’m gonna need that come-a-long”.

Summers would find me tagging along to different job sites where I was the official welders’ assistant, climbing up and down the ladder to bring him the tools he needed. He even let me drag along my friends. One summer my friend Tami and I painted the trim on his shop building. On the first day of work, he presented us with white painters overalls. “A true painter can finish the job and not have one bit of paint on their clothes,” he said. Easier said than done.

Dad designed plows, livestock pens, decorative iron light fixtures and staircase banisters, and repaired anything that showed up at his shop door. I usually hung out at The Workshop every Saturday during school, until the day my mother dropped by the Dimmitt Supermarket to discover me walking across the roof with a bucket of bolts. She must have thrown some kind of fit, because the next Saturday I was instructed on how to record payments in the check register and assigned putting up tools and sweeping. I wish my father would have argued a little harder on my behalf. He died at a very young 61 after a lengthy battle with colon cancer. Mom and I only learned that he had donated his body to Texas Tech during last minute funeral preparations; he was generous and giving to the very last.


Aren’t dads the best? Kerry Dean and Tinley rounding up cows.


Nothin’ better than hangin’ out with Grandpa. Stetson and her grandpa, Billy Paul, are in the saddle early.


My kids constructing a chicken coop with their dad.

It breaks my heart that my father missed knowing his grandsons for most of their lives. They are ever bit as smart and funny as he was. Although our time was cut short, I really appreciate all of the handy things he taught me. I hated those early mornings, but he instilled in me a strong work ethic and the belief that there’s nothing I can’t do. There was no such thing as women’s work or man’s work in our house. It was just work.

“Pay attention and do what needs to be done,” Dad said. “Don’t wait until somebody has to tell you.” That advice has served me well in every job I’ve held.

Our neighbor Addis has taught our youngest everything he needs to know about running a branding iron.


My mother’s little brother, Luther, playing UNO with the boys. Uncles are great teachers too.


“The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.”


Natalie Bright is an author, blogger, and aspiring photographer. Her  newest book features history and recipes from the cattle trailing era. KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP EM’ ROLLIN’ coming soon Spring 2021. If you have pre-ordered KEEP ‘EM FULL  already, thank you!

The 2020 pandemic has impacted book publishers in a big way. As they struggle to keep their employees safe and adjust production schedules, the release date of KEEP ‘EM FULL and KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’ has been pushed to Spring 2021. Thank you for your understanding and patience.