Things are Just That

I found this sign in an East Nashville shop and gave it to a dear friend.

“The Best Things in Life Aren’t Things.”

When I was a little boy, I thought we were rich.  Why wouldn’t you think that when your mom was driving a new Mustang convertible every few months?  Little did I know that they were “demonstration” models used for test drives by automobile dealers.  My father ran a family Ford dealership in South Bend, Indiana until he sold it in 1974.  For you folks over 50, you’ll recall the energy crisis that included long lines for gasoline.  Detroit was still putting out gas guzzlers and frankly the products were lacking in quality.  Dad says it was just too difficult to run a dealership when the cars were constantly in the shop.  Thankfully,  he had other things going such as banking (he prided himself as the only banker not to own a pinstriped suit) and real estate so he didn’t have to tack drastically in his professional career.  But were we rich?  We had nice cars and I don’t recall my parents ever letting on to the four children that times were tight.  They very well may have been, but they didn’t flinch in front of us.

1973 Mustang. Last “demo” from the dealership. Dad sold it and Mom really wanted it so he bought it back. Dad put a Mach I hood on it to customize it. I wore out the 8-track player.

Other than the new Mustangs (which really weren’t ours) my parents didn’t flaunt either.  Material things were just that, things.  I recall when I was 8 or 9-years old, my dad and I were running errands around town in a borrowed, well-used station wagon and asked him if he was embarrassed about driving it.  I remember him saying that he didn’t care if people judged him.  It just didn’t occur to him.  The car was just a thing.

Though the dealership hasn’t existed since 1974, I stick rock a decal. Thanks Dad.

As I get older, I value friendships and creating memories more and more.  Things come and go.  A great marriage and great friends mean everything to me.

But don’t get me wrong.  Mustangs are in my DNA.  I’ll be driving one to Erin, Tennessee later this morning to visit the JTG program at Houston County High School.  JTG specialist Scott Charlesworth is a rock star there and does a tremendous job of guiding students toward graduation and more importantly, college opportunities while making them employable.  Among the things I’ll bring up to the students is the importance of placing a value on happiness and building true and lasting personal and business relationships.  Don’t covet things.

Just one question,  top up or down?


Went top up.  I was told there is a bunch of pollen and still feeling effects of pneumonia.  I hate when I make a mature decision!

My visit to Houston County was fun.  A really good group of young men and women.  Almost all have part-time jobs.  The JTG program is leading the senior class civics project of re-landscaping a neglected school courtyard.  We’ll revisit that in May.

By |2017-02-24T18:09:38+00:00February 23rd, 2017|Life Lessons, Uncategorized|0 Comments

About the Author:

Call it John Dwyer 2.0 After 29 years as a TV Broadcaster, Dwyer is President & CEO of Jobs for Tennessee Graduates (JTG). JTG, an affiliate of Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG), is a non-profit organization dedicated to stewarding at-risk high school students toward graduation with follow through toward post-secondary education and/or job opportunities. Associated with JAG since 1981, JTG consistently obtains a graduation rate above 90-percent with a full-time job rate at nearly 70-percent. The most vulnerable, socioeconomically challenged young men and women, graduate with self-esteem with the realization and skill set to achieve success after high school. Does it get much better than that? Dwyer, is a resident of the Nashville area since 1996. He was sports director and/or a news anchor at TV stations in Nashville, Jacksonville, Florida; Ft. Myers, FL and his hometown of South Bend, Indiana. He is a 10-time Mid-South Region Emmy Award winner, along with winning numerous other awards. He is also a former Heisman Trophy voter. John is a 1985 graduate of Butler University, where he majored in Radio/TV while minoring in journalism. An avid running (or “plodder” as he likes to call himself), Dwyer runs in Nashville’s annual marathon. (Current tally: 7 Full, 10 Half). He accomplished a goal, once thought out of reach, be qualifying and running in the Boston Marathon in 2009. Married to Lynley, Dwyer resides in East Nashville with his wife and dog Lola. Dwyer served on the Make-A-Wish Middle Tennessee board from 2006-2012, and was board chairman for three years.

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COVID-19 Update

JAG and JTG Statement in Response to COVID-19

 As we are all feeling, COVID-19 has shifted how the world operates in a way that is unprecedented for our generation, and Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) and Jobs for Tennessee Graduates (JTG), one of 39 JAG state affiliates, are no exception. The impact of the coronavirus and the immediate danger it presents has closed our education system, directly affecting students and their families. This is especially detrimental to JTG students, who often look to their JTG Specialists and classmates for steadiness and security in their lives.

We also recognize that our students and their families are disproportionately affected by the closure of restaurants, stores, bars, and other service-industry places of work. These jobs often provide the entry-level opportunities our students need to enter the workforce. A difficult environment is likely to continue for some time, so we are in the process to reposition our training and support to make the best case for our JTG students to be considered for employment.

At a time when we must social distance ourselves to protect each other, the thousands of JTG students we serve need us more than ever.  We are responding to and encouraged by the requests from many JTG Specialists to access online learning modules and platforms provided by JAG educational partners like the Skills to Succeed Academy, EverFi, and Tallo. We are excited to see the interest in the JAG Genius and the use of virtual connectivity and the online sense of community – something we all need in these times.

Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) and Jobs for Tennessee Graduates (JTG) recognize we need to modify the way we provide support and deliver competencies to our students during this time of uncertainty. In response to the way business and education are adapting (in real time) to COVID-19,  JAG National is establishing new protocols and processes to ensure full, virtual engagement with our young people to ensure they have the competencies they need to meet the very competitive job market ahead. That is why JAG is providing the immediate recommendations below that are of highest priority, which impact the day-to-day lives of our students and Specialists. Like our world right now, please know that these are in real-time and subject to change.


Moving forward, we will have ongoing recommendations that will be built into new practices that will serve as both short- and long-term solutions to continue JAG’s data-driven model. This will help us remain accountable to our students, our partners, funders, and each other.