No, I did not intend to say “The Days of Wine and Roses.” This is my way of saying that I live down South and things have been going pretty well.

First of all, I must thank the Lord for my good fortune. I am thankful for being born in the United States of America. What a blessing!

I was born in a three-room shack in Hanging Dog, NC. I lived through the poverty of the Great Depression and the experience of World War II. I was born into a family that valued education, and I am greatly thankful for that.

I am thankful that my parents, by example, instilled in me the value of a good work ethic. My mother would tell me that “If anything is worth doing, it is worth doing right.” They inspired me to work my way through college and graduate without being burdened with debt.


I am thankful that my parents took me to the church and that I went to Vacation Bible School where I could learn what is right and what is wrong.

For many years, I was not deeply religious, but I followed a pathway cleared for me by my ancestors.

While walking across a parking lot one day with a group of friends who happened to be State Farm agents, fellow agent Chuck Blue declared “Ray, you are the conscience of State Farm.” I was publishing a newsletter at that time, and I let management know when I felt that they were going down the wrong path.

I lost track of Chuck when he retired and moved to Florida. At this late date, I would like to thank him for this ultimate compliment.

I am thankful that I was somehow guided to make the right choice for me when I became a self-employed contractor with the great company called State Farm. There were a lot of good ethical people with the Farm. However, there were a few bad apples in the barrel.

First of all, I must thank the Lord for my good fortune. I am thankful for being born in the United States of America. What a blessing!

I was offered an opportunity to go into management, but I choose to remain self-employed. I knew myself too well, for if I had become a corporate employee and was told to do something that I knew was wrong that I would refuse to do so, and would have probably been fired.

My almost 58 years down on the Farm—State Farm, that is—were a great adventure. There were some bumps in the road, but the big picture was really “wine and roses.”

I made more money than I ever imagined growing up poor in Appalachia. I bought a second home in the middle of fifty thousand acres of pine trees called the Noxubee Wildlife Refuge.

I got to travel extensively and see many wonders of the world. I was honored to be elected by my peers as president of the National Association of State Farm Agents (NASFA).

Yes, I got to smell the roses.

Click HERE to order Ray’s book Depression Baby: True Stories from Growing Up During the Great Depression in Appalachia — and Other Things…