How did we get to “A Going Concern?”

In the ’50s, when we would drive around in the Ford Country Squire station wagon, just sightseeing (gas was less than 20 cents a gallon then), Dad filling up the car with smoke from his filter-less Camel, we would, occasionally go past a rundown-looking establishment.  Usually it was a bar.  It looked like the kind of place only rodents might scurry in and out.  But as the rest of us silently took in the fact that the place was surrounded by automobiles packed tightly together and demonstrating that not only rodents frequented the place, Dad would drolly observe, “Now there’s a going concern.”

We kids would laugh at the thought as we began to understand that “a going concern” was a place that did a good business (even if the business wasn’t a good one).  “A going concern” could mean real prosperity even if, on the outside, the business didn’t look prosperous at all.  “A going concern”, however, could also mean that just because something appeared to be so on the outside didn’t mean it was so on the inside.

I’ve taken that expression with me through life, observing “a going concern” every now and then.  Often in small towns, it is the local bar, practically the only establishment still open on Main Street.  But a going concern could be any place — a school, a church, a hospital, any business.  And just because automobiles are clustered deeply into the parking lot, I’ve concluded as my father apparently did, that what you see on the outside may or may not indicate what’s going on inside.

That’s the way it is with people too.  There are those surrounded by others, popular, celebrities in their own small communities and celebrities of national and international renown.  But we never really know what the real story is inside that “going concern” unless we stop, get out, and take the time to get in there and investigate ourselves.

That’s what I want this blog to be about.  I want to stop and take a break from the drive, go inside the going concerns I have seen and met in my life and have yet to see and meet.  I want to know if what’s going on in there is something I should be concerned with or about.  A going concern.  A growing concern.


Gretchen Lord Anderson

Gretchen, blog photoBack at Mark Twain Elementary School in St. Joseph, Mo., a girlfriend and I decided to publish our own magazine. I think it might have lasted two issues and, due to the fact that we had no access to such a thing as a copier, our distribution was limited to passing the one and only copy of our magazine around the classroom. But it was enough for me to know that I wanted to be a journalist.

So I worked on the high school paper and I edited my college paper. As soon as I was able, I landed a job on a daily paper and I covered state government. That led to public relations positions and then press secretary to a governor of South Dakota.

But back in high school, even when I knew that my strength was in writing, I also felt another tug. When it came to looking for a college to attend, I told my dad I wanted to go to a Presbyterian school because “I want to be a minister” (at that time I had no concept of being called by God to such work). My dad’s response was simple:  “Girls don’t do that.”

Life has a way of sending us on new paths we didn’t expect and sometimes we waver off the paths that are intended for us. But eventually that sense that I wanted to be a minister turned into a real sense of being called to that vocation. That’s what I eventually wound up doing — even after my parents had both died and neither one of them ever had the opportunity to hear me preach. But that’s all right. Timing is everything.

I found that my writing skills were integral to being a preacher and I’m thankful for that. Through all those years of preaching, I was able to continually hone my writing and understand my audiences.

In my last sermon in my final church, I told the congregation I didn’t know what I would be doing next, but I was certain it would have something to do with writing. I shared  the working title of my book: “Preaching in My Underwear.”

The book has yet to come to fruition. But I can sit here at my computer in my underwear and write to my heart’s content.

By the way, I’ve been married to Terry C. Anderson for over 35 years, and we share the household with our three feline family members:  Marvis, Joe and Fern. And we give tribute to our late-feline family: Lars, Walt, George, and Gracie.

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