Chapter Five – “The Note on the Texas Flag”


Location: Backroom of a Beauty Shop Slaton, Texas 1960

The loud voices of the beauty operators penetrating the plywood makeshift wall jarred me out of a deep sleep. It was nine a.m. and I had missed my first class. I got up, got mad, pulled on my clothes, and rolled up the vellum-colored door shade. A foot of a late winter snow had turned my car into a giant marshmallow.

After a quick tip toe dance through wet snow to the bathroom, I was back in my room heating a pot of water. I pulled a blanket around my shoulders ripped open a box of tea bags and glared at the bright white landscape. The maze I now found myself in was a schedule of washing dishes and pushing a broom  with a full load of college classes I hardly had time to attend much less study for. I was the lab rat scurrying to find his way to the cheese but there was no cheese. The book dad had given me had something about a burning desire. His book was perched on the edge of my drafting table. Flipping through the contents, chapter two “Burning Desire” was found and chapter three “Faith.”  Reading the chapters then one more time to make sure I grasped what Napoleon Hill was telling me. As I absorbed the words I breathed more heavily, my forehead creased and my teeth clenched, not in anger, but in determination to get something better, something for me. My symptoms began taking on Hill’s description of burning desire. I wanted to change.

I had to stop the bleeding of my energy. First, drop two of the five classes I was attending; second, find a better job with more money and a better place to live, a warmer place to live.

My architectural note book had three hole lined paper ready for class work. I reached across my desk and tore out a single sheet of notebook paper, took a deep breath and scribbled the following:






As I forced my pen, my message cut into the paper. I could hear my dad’s voice as he had said many times when we were working together, “Son, if you think you can, you can.” I continued to write, like in grade school when the teacher made me write over and over to correct the mistakes I made in class. I was writing my positive statement dozens of times using both sides of the paper. With each repetition I strengthened my confidence to make my decision a reality.  Thumb-tacking the page to the wall, I stood back to look at my note in the middle of the Texas flag. I had fashioned my definite plan right out of Hill’s book, not his exact way but it would suffice.

Texas FlagSoon it was spring and I was looking forward to seeing my folks and not-so-little brother over spring break. After work on Friday I drove out of Slaton with the windshield catching a few droplets of a late afternoon shower. My big, blue Chrysler hugged the road as I settled into the 55 mile an hour drive and relaxed.

I drove the five hours home with great excitement at seeing my family. I arrived late in the evening, parked, and went in by way of the little room off the drive. I stood in shock. I was filled with anger.  My wonderful mural was gone. I glared at the wall of new green paint. My Mother had painted over my artwork. Again I realized that what I wanted and what was important to me didn’t mean anything to my mother. Dad yelled from the back porch, “That you Warren?” I don’t know who was more excited to see the other. We exchanged good bear hugs and then we settled in for a long talk.  Dad said, “You’re doing well. I knew you were man enough to be on your own.” His support meant a lot. We talked about my architectural studies, cleaning the beauty shop, and washing dishes for Harold Medlock, a longtime friend of my mother and father’s. I told Dad about my long hours and how I had reached the end of my rope. I related how I had read Hill’s book and wrote my burning desire statement now thumb tacked to the center of the Texas flag. He applauded my actions. Brother Charles told me about his job at the air conditioner supply company and the newest junker car he was overhauling in the driveway. We laughed about my lack of mechanical ability and how good I was at holding the light as he worked. The two days were filled with home cooked chicken-fried steak, and visiting with family and friends. The weekend was over too soon. Sunday morning we had an early breakfast then attended service at the Vine Street Church of Christ, and lunch at McEplines’ cafeteria.

The season’s first sand storm hit when I was on the outskirts of Slaton. Spring always blows the sand so fiercely in West Texas you can feel it in your teeth and hear it pealing the paint off your car as you drive. One sand colored day in April, my parents called me at the restaurant. They told me to talk to a Mrs. Wicker of the El Lora Motel in Slaton, a couple of blocks from the beauty shop. I drove over to the motel and introduced myself. Mrs. Wicker was a thin woman, about 60. Her dark hair with wisps of white was gathered in a tight bun. Glasses dangled from a gold chain against a dark flower print dress. Her thin long fingers held a cigarette that seemed to have an inch long ash poised to fall, but never did. We talked. She needed assistance at the motel because her long time employee had moved away to be with her family. Mrs. Wicker was serious, polite and reserved. I’m sure she saw me as a young kid without direction just going wherever the wind blew. She offered me a job if I could meet her needs. The requirements were simple: I would check in guests after 11 p.m., run errands for the guests, be a semi-night guard and do small jobs around the motel. Next to the office living room I would have a quiet bedroom. A maid would clean the room and Mrs. Wicker would prepare my evening meal. I was free to go out nights until 11:00 when she was playing bridge in the large living room. She offered to pay me $50 a month and I accepted with a smile from ear to ear. Now, I was a believer in the power of burning desire. I had put my faith and desire into action, written my affirmation and was now reaping the rewards. I would repeat this burning desire ”goal setting” process throughout my life.

In my old dingy room, I yanked the thumbtacks out of my note and read it out loud for the last time: “I will find a new place to live and make more money!” I yelled at the top of my lungs. Dad’s voice echoed in my head.

The Texas flag was folded into a correct military triangle, a symbolic act that I was leaving the kid in me behind. I would never allow myself to be caught in that kind of depressing situation again in my life. Achieving my goal was a grand experience. I had a new job, a better place to live and more money. Moving was fast with no two week notice. I announced I had a better offer and was taking it. “Thank you” for the room. By late afternoon I was packed, moved, and settled into my new space at the motel. My bedroom had nice drapes, even a carpeted bathroom. I had never seen anything like that before.

Mrs. Wicker and I became acquainted in small conversations over the dinner she prepared. Although the food was good and filling, I was more appreciative than hungry. Since it wasn’t a bridge night we spent the evening reviewing the procedures for checking in guests and where to purchase cigarettes and other items the guests might need.

After we finished, I walked around to the back of the motel down the alley for another couple of blocks. I looked down the depressing empty street, a few dim lights reflected off the brick street where I had lived for many months. It already seemed like a lifetime ago. My self confidence was improving by the minute.

I had a grand comfortable place to live, Mrs. Wicker was pleasant and my salary was much improved.

Mrs. Wicker retired to her bedroom and I stayed up watching the late night news for the first time in months, getting acquainted with my new surroundings. My room was decorated with exquisite antique furniture, and satin-like green drapes. I did a “walk about” on the plush carpet of the enormous motel living room and viewed my surroundings. Finding few books of any interest and none in my room, I unpacked the remainder of my belongings. I slid into a soft arm chair, the bedside table lamp perfect for reading. I opened Hill’s book and retraced my thoughts about the first part of the book and how it was working in my life at that very moment. The entire room lulled me into relaxation.

I placed Mr. Hill’s book carefully on the bedside table and slept well until the office door bell chimed at 12:32 a.m. Duty calls. With my new job and new living situation, my focus was on the remaining classes with more time to study. My hours of washing dishes were cut and didn’t seem so overwhelming. I was smiling much more. Life was becoming exciting and wonderful. I was even spending Friday evenings sitting on a quilt-covered porch swing with a sweet sixteen-year-old, blue-eyed blond talking about my architectural studies and her high school activities.

Faith in yourself is the ability to get up one more time and start over. When you find yourself in a position where the status quo is intolerable, draw your line in the sand. Find the faith to step over that line and seize a better life. You have to have Faith in yourself and your decisions to move forward. To build your faith, stop for a couple of moments, remember a time when your faith succeeded and repeat the emotion, the feelings and the accomplishment. Remember the emotion and repeat. The first part of Think and Grow Rich is about determination, burning desire and one’s belief system. As I had skimmed and read the book several times, I was beginning to believe. After the message I had thumb-tacked on top of my Texas flag was engraved on my mind, I discovered the “burning desire.” I hadn’t fully understood the burning desire step until I was so exhausted and depressed that I had to change. When I finally hit the floor and picked myself up, I discovered I had not been in control of myself. I re-committed to earning my college degree and wrote my first goal to find a better place to live and make more money. In a short time I accomplished my goal and became a true believer in the secret found in the book. As my desires expanded I would continue to refer back to Think and Grow Rich for guidance. I had come to believe and think for myself.

Mr. Hill: “Faith is the visualization of and belief in the attainment of Desire. Only those who become money conscious ever accumulate great riches. If you do not see great riches in your imagination, you will never see them in your bank balance. A burning desire is the starting point of all achievement. The method, by which desire for riches can be transmuted into its financial equivalent, consists of six definite, practical steps.

Just have Faith that goal setting works. I proved it then and I have been doing this for fifty years, I am prosperous because of goal setting.

  1. Fix in your mind the exact amount of money you desire.
  2. What will you give in exchange for the money?
  3. Establish a date when you intend to possess the money.
  4. Create a plan for carrying out your desires.
  5. Write out a clear statement, amount, date and what you will exchange.
  6. Read your statement morning and night.

“Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.” Voltaire 1694-1777

 Word count 2,150


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s