This was my Grandpa Howard's fish market in Shawneetown, Illinois on the Ohio River.
This is where my brother Sal & I spent a lot of time as kids.
My Grandpa, PawPaw, earned his living by selling catfish he caught to people around town.
This was his “HQ”.
From here, he was able to provide a modest, but very stable living for his family.
Some of my earliest memories are of that fish market.
See those tiny john boats tied up...those were his livelihood.
Sometimes he came back with so many fish the boat was almost overflowing.
Sometimes he came back empty.
No matter the weather...
No matter the conditions...
No matter the time of year...
He went out.
I remember one time seeing him go out in the river when it was full of huge ice chunks...risking being crushed by the ice chunks smashing together.
They had what is now a vintage coke machine that served glass bottles of Coca-Cola...our favorite thing to do was go see Paw Paw and get a Coke from his cool Coke machine.
The toilet was a hole with a toilet seat that went right into the river.
I was always afraid a fish was gonna bite my ass when I sat on the toilet (I was 6).
Nobody knows this...but when times were slow and there were no fish, Paw Paw would get in his old blue pickup and drive to a secret spot in Kentucky, buy fish from a different market in a different state, and come back and sell those fish for little or zero profit just to keep his customers happy.
Paw Paw was real bad ass. He lived a few midwest winters homeless, living in a corn crib to survive. He even survived getting shot by his own brother.
I learned a lot from my Grandpa Howard, he was always trying to teach us things about life.
Funny thing, I don’t remember much of what he said to us...but I easily remember the single most important business lesson ever through his actions:
It doesn’t matter how “hard” it is.
It doesn’t matter if conditions aren’t ideal.
Never forget them.
No matter how big of a deal you might become...there are people who have paved that path for you.