If I Could Do It, You Can Too!

If I Could Do It, You Can Too!

From A 2nd Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul

If I Could Do It, You Can Too!

I began life, literally, with nothing. Given up as an infant by my biological mother, an unmarried young woman from the small town of Moose Jaw in Saskatchewan, Canada, I was adopted by a poor, middle-aged couple, John and Mary Linkletter.

My adoptive father was one of the warmest men I’ve ever known, but he had absolutely no ability as a businessman. A part-time evangelical preacher, he also tried selling insurance, running a small general store and making shoes, all rather unsuccessfully. Eventually we found ourselves living in a charity home run by a local church in San Diego. Then Dad Linkletter felt called by God to become a full-time preacher, and we had even less money. And what we did have was usually shared with whatever neighborhood derelict happened to be looking for a meal.

I graduated from high school early and hit the road as a hobo at the tender age of 16 with the idea of finding my fortune. One of the first things I found, however, was the wrong end of a pistol: my traveling companion and I were held up by a couple of toughs who found us sleeping in a boxcar.

“Put your hands straight out and lie flat!” one of the men ordered. “If this match goes out and I hear anything more I’ll shoot.” As they searched our pockets and felt around our middles, I wondered if money was all they wanted. I was frightened because I had heard stories of older hobos sexually attacking young boys. Just then, the match went out . . . and was hastily relit. We did not move! The thieves found $1.30 on me but missed $10.00 I had sewn into my coat lining. They also took two dollars from my friend, Denver Fox.

The match went out again and I could tell by their hesitation that they were undecided about something. As Denver and I lay there, inches apart in the darkness, I heard the hammer of the pistol click back and a cold chill ran down my back. I knew they were considering killing us. There was little risk for them. The rain hammering down on the outside of the boxcar would drown out any noise. Frozen with terror, I thought of my father and how he would have prayed for me had he known. Suddenly fear left me, and peace and calm returned. As if in response to my own restored self-assurance, they moved back toward us. Then I could feel one of the men push something against my arm.

“Here’s your thirty cents,” he said. “Breakfast money.”

Today I can look back on 45 years as a star of two of the longest-running shows in broadcasting history; I can reflect on the success I’ve had as a businessman, author, and lecturer; and I can be proud of my wonderful family life—58 years with the same wife, five children, seven grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren. I mention this not to be boastful but to encourage others who are at the lower rung of the economic ladder. Keep in mind where I started and remember, if I could do it, you can, too! Yes—you can!

Art Linkletter

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