Grace & Guidance for Learning

The good old days are gone. But many good lessons of the past have been profitably passed on. Likewise, valuable wisdom skills are transmitted from generation to generation. These legacies are worth treasuring. Most of us do not disparage the influence of our grandparents – but we often thoughtlessly discount the past. The cherished personal memories we have received from those who influenced us and guided us often transcend the latest whiz-bang fads or eye-popping technology.

Dennis L. Peterson is a friend of mine who is an author and historian and a former editor and educator. He blogs and passes on many valuable insights from lessons that a study of history affords and the wisdom that can be gleaned from family heritage.

Recently Dennis wrote an article entitled The Ring. Here are some interesting and excellent excerpts from that thoughtful and engaging piece.

“I got Daddy’s high school class ring…It was a small ring…Today it fits me and, in fact, I have a little trouble getting it off at times, especially when it’s hot and my fingers have swollen…”

“Inside the upper shank is engraved “10KJOSTEN,” indicating the gold composition of the ring and its maker. The Josten’s firm was founded by Otto Josten, a watch repairman in Owatonna, Minnesota, in 1897. (The apostrophe later was dropped.) In 1906, the company began making emblems and awards, including rings, for schools. They added yearbooks in 1950…”

“Today, I wear Daddy’s ring as not only a replacement for the college ring I lost but also a constant reminder of Daddy, my memories of him, and the character traits he taught me, more by his example (and his discipline!) than by overt, formal instruction.”

You can read the whole story at You can also profit from Dennis’s finely honed craft of writing – especially his careful telling of stories and the wisdom that he gleans from digging into the fuller lessons found in historic events, things, and most of all, people.

I wrote the following to him.

I love your sense of history and quest for learning and finding meaningful thoughts and truth in the basics of life. You stimulate others to search their roots, interests, and exploration of new and different things.

Your story resonated with me. When I was a student at Pillsbury Baptist Bible College, in Owatonna, Minnesota, I worked one year as an information guide at the Jostens ring plant that was two blocks from campus. I took small groups of people through the plant to see how rings were designed and made. I especially loved showing visitors the World Series Championship rings that the craftsmen created. As I remember the Pittsburg Pirates 1960 championship ring was on display and it had a replica of Forbes Field on the crown of the ring. They had a few craftsmen that were unbelievably talented artistically. That was an amazing experience for me as a college kid.

As I remember a guy by the name of Charlie Hermann recruited me for that job. It was through my association with the Owatonna Parks & Rec director that Charlie was directed to me. I only worked a few times each month, but the experience had a profound influence on me at the time. Many years later I learned that Charlie rose to be a Vice President in the huge corporation that Jostens has grown to be in the business of publishing and recognition products. The ministry Connie and I retired from – Positive Action Bible Curriculum – had books printed by the Jostens company.

I’ve learned that Charlie Hermann became a legend in Jostens’ organization. He was a super motivational speaker and dynamic personality. The Jostens website recorded this about Charlie:

“We’ve come to associate his face with a Jostens sales meeting, service awards banquet, training seminar, a management development program, high school commencement address, or some other kind of special occasion for Jostens or the community. To many people throughout the organization and the United States, in fact, Charlie Herrmann is Jostens.”

Some people have super personalities like Charlie, and others are faithful and consistent influencers like Dennis Peterson’s dad. Their contributions to our lives are like beacon lights to illuminate our paths and guide us in our quest to find God’s truth and gain a helpful understanding of life. Jesus said: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16.

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