Letters to My Granddaughter, No. 66

By | April 18, 2024

[April 18, 2024]  His face was wrinkled and tanned; he was thin, of medium height, with blue eyes and thinning gray hair, and wearing thick glasses.  Douglas James Satterfield sat in his favorite chair overlooking the front of his farmhouse, smoking an unfiltered Camel cigarette.  His farm was located south of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, near the Arkansas River.  Grandpa’s gaze was intense and unflinching.  He was a capable man, and you could tell just by being near him.

I was named after Grandpa Satterfield.  My grandmother and other family members called him Douglas, and to distinguish me around the house, I was called Doug.  Your father’s middle name is Douglas, to continue that tradition.

I don’t have many regrets in my life, and the reason has been a personal philosophy to always look forward to the future, to the family, and to God in everything I do.  One family regret I have is not getting to know my Grandpa Satterfield better.  Us kids called him “Grandpa” (pronounced gran‧paw, emphasis on “paw”).

Grandpa was a very old man in my memories; he was frail but stoic, and our grandmother was too.  He was born in 1882 in Tennessee, moved to Arkansas, married, had six children by two wives (not at the same time), and passed away in 1976.  I was stationed with the Army in West Germany at the time when he passed, and so I didn’t return for the funeral.  I was notified of his passing by post, and sadly, the notification was far too late for me to return to the States and attend his funeral.

By the time I was born, he was already 70 years of age.  As I write this letter, you are eight and I’m 71.  This age difference encourages me to write these “Letters to My Granddaughter” so you can learn about me rather than regret not knowing.  Or, at least, you now have the choice to know or not know.  It’s your call.

What I know about Grandpa would fit on the back of a dinner napkin, which is a terrible shame, and I regret that I failed to learn more about him when I had the chance.

My Dad was the youngest of six siblings, born in the summer of 1929.  History tells us that this was the beginning of the Great Depression, lasting many years and destroying lives across America.  One of Grandpa’s children was Uncle DJ, who fought during World War II in Germany, and three sisters, plus one half-sister.  Whether the depression had an effect on more children, I will never know, but by the time my Dad was born, his mother, my grandmother, was 37.

From the stories I have heard, Grandpa worked in a Stave Mill for several decades, first as a saw filer and then making narrow strips of wood for the sides of barrels.  These barrels were used to transport various goods in the days before prefab boxes and plastic containers.  Grandpa was an expert in wood and could identify any wood type just by glancing at it.

In 1918, he received his military registration for a possible draft into the Great World War I, although he did not serve.  I can only guess but it might have been his age at 36 and because he had three children and his wife (my grandmother) was pregnant with a fourth.  I have a photographic copy of his military Registration Card with his squiggly signature.  Cool.

One summer, as a young boy, my Dad tried working at this stave mill but had to quit because the work was too physically demanding.  Most of the stave mills closed after World War II and this was the time that Grandpa moved his family around southern Arkansas and northern Louisiana to find work.  Eventually, he purchased a farm just outside Pine Bluff, Arkansas.  This farm is where my few memories of Grandpa began.

The “Satterfield Farm,” as we called it, was mainly for growing cotton.  Our grandmother had a large garden and tended her chickens.  We didn’t visit often, being over a two-hour trip one way, and we rarely stayed overnight.  Occasionally, I would stay for a few days after my family returned home.  At the time, I thought that time on the farm was “boring.”  And I mean really boring.  I wanted to run, have fun, and see places I’d never been.  I was perhaps a bit of an aimless boy, as typical kids are, which is why I was bored.  I was unhappy being there.

Yet, the farm was not that at all.  It was far from boring, thanks to Grandpa Satterfield.  I learned to pick cotton, snap the head off a chicken and pluck feathers, throw a knuckleball (that was hard), shoot a sitting squirrel at 30 yards with a shotgun loaded with No. 9 shot, mow grass in straight lines with a push mower, tie a proper knot to hold a hook and bait a worm for fishing, and make the finest slingshot.  I also learned to properly maintain my equipment, tools, shoes, and clothes, and always buy the best.  These new-found skills unexpectedly gave me purpose.

My Grandpa also enjoyed hunting and fishing and instilled that love of the outdoors in my Dad.  So sometime around when my Dad was nine or ten years old, Grandpa gave him a 410 single-shot shotgun, made by J. Stevens Arms Company, model 94A.  It has no date or serial number but was manufactured sometime after 1930.  My Dad hunted with this shotgun often, as I did when I was a kid.  Being the oldest, I was given this shotgun.

This gun is the only tangible object that connects my Grandpa with my Dad and me.  Now, the shotgun belongs to you.

Going back in time, the Satterfield’s originated in central and northern England, and we can trace them back to the late 1500s.  Why they decided to immigrate to America is not that different from others, as they looked for more opportunities to be free and independent.  That has always been our noble goal.  Times were hard for the Satterfield’s because they always worked hard for what they got, did not cheat or steal from others, never owned slaves, and were religious and dedicated to their families.  I’m glad that I can say that I’ve been a part of this tradition and so will you.


NOTE: See all my letters here: https://www.theleadermaker.com/granddaughter-letters/


Please read my books:

  1. “55 Rules for a Good Life,” on Amazon (link here).
  2. “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” on Amazon (link here).
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I provide one article every day. My writings are influenced by great thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Jung, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Jean Piaget, Erich Neumann, and Jordan Peterson, whose insight and brilliance have gotten millions worldwide to think about improving ourselves. Thank you for reading my blog.

31 thoughts on “Letters to My Granddaughter, No. 66

  1. Lana Morrison

    These letters are truly wonderful and I can surely appreciate them. I only wish that I had these “letters” from my grandfather. He was in WWII and his adventures and suffering during that time is something I will never know.

  2. Lou Schmerconish

    Gen. Satterfield, once again, you’ve done it with another letter to your granddaughter. As you noted much earlier in your letters, these are for ALL your grandkids and that is something they will surely appreciate all their lives. One of my regrets too is not learning more about my grandparents. That is a hole that cannot be filled once they are no longer with us. Keep up the great work you are doing and thanks.

    1. Linux Man

      Lou, good to see you back here. We’ve been having a great run of articles.

  3. Sadako Red

    Gen. Satterfield has done it again. Thank you, sir for delivering another beautiful letter to your granddaughter for us to share.

  4. Max Foster

    “Yet, the farm was not that at all. It was far from boring, thanks to Grandpa Satterfield. I learned to pick cotton, snap the head off a chicken and pluck feathers, throw a knuckleball (that was hard), shoot a sitting squirrel at 30 yards with a shotgun loaded with No. 9 shot, mow grass in straight lines with a push mower, tie a proper knot to hold a hook and bait a worm for fishing, and make the finest slingshot. I also learned to properly maintain my equipment, tools, shoes, and clothes, and always buy the best. These new-found skills unexpectedly gave me purpose.” – Gen. Doug Satterfield telling us about his grandpa Satterfield. Love it.

  5. Maureen S. Sullivan

    Love your letters to your granddaughter. I wish my grandfather had written letters for me. I would have known him better.

    1. Maximilian Krämer

      I think we all could have liked to have read what out grandparents did and thought about the world. At least we would have had the choice to read it too. That is what is so helpful about Gen. Satterfield’s blog.

  6. The Northeast

    Wow, Gen. Satterfield, another beautiful letter and one that is amazing that you are remembering some of those events in your life that made you a better person. You are fortunate to have a good man, grandpa Douglas James Satterfield, as your grandfather, a person who was good to his family and worked hard to care for them. Well done. We often overlook people like your grandpa because he doesn’t standout from the crowd. So be it, because he was a good man.

  7. Kenny Foster

    Gen. Satterfield is getting to something important that many of us might overlook but I’ll pull out. He wrote that he was “bored” being on his grandpa’s cotton farm. But that once he learned a few things that is Grandpa Satterfield taught him, he had more of a purpose and was no longer bored. This is a critical part of having an aim in life. And I hope Gen. Satterfield elaborates on this more in the future.

    1. Tomas Clooney

      Good catch Kenny. I read it and missed it. Indeed, a better future elaboration is something to look forward to. Plus I’d like to see Gen. Satterfield better address the idea of “Discipline” too. 👍

      1. Laughing Monkey

        Tomas and Kenny. Good idea. Thanks. I too missed this point and just another reason to read this leadership forum.

  8. Bobby Joe

    … and Gen. Doug Satterfield will be giving his granddaughter his old 410 shotgun. How wonderful.

  9. American Girl

    Most folks miss the point, often mentioned but not studied here, is that Gen. Doug Satterfield is a great American Patriot. And he wrote about it and that article is one of his most popular (see upper right on this website to see the full list). https://www.theleadermaker.com/why-im-an-american-patriot/ Or just go to this link to read it. I highly recommend reading this article and now read what he says about his upbringing. What you don’t see is a bunch of patriotic folks running around doing dumb things, just learning to be good people and that is what a real patriot does, helps his family, his community, and his country … and his church. That is what makes America strong, not the ignorance of our politicians today. 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

  10. Harry Donner

    A look back in time, as this letter does, is often necessary to better understand someone. And that is what we are getting here. A much better understanding of the Satterfield family, esp. Gen. Satterfield’s grandpa – in this case – and so remember his comments about his “Bigmama” on his mother’s side of the family who was a matriarch like figure who held everyone together with he kindness and good cooking and love for everyone … even little Doug Satterfield.

  11. Ms. Belinda Faulkner

    Nice letter to your granddaughter. I’m new to your website and what I’ve seen so far is very interesting. Thank you for that, sir. I just wanted to note that I am now going back to read all the past letters and I see that you’ve made it easy with a single tab and so I will suggest any new folks go here first to easily read them https://www.theleadermaker.com/granddaughter-letters/
    I know that I can use the search feature but this is easier. I see that some people are recommending that you put these letters into a book at some point. Okay with me. What I want to say is that you have encouraged me to put my thoughts down for my future children and their children.

    1. Joe Omerrod

      Welcome to Gen. Satterfield’s leadership forum where ideas can be openly discussed without the craziness you find elsewhere. Here we are polite but are willing to give quality feedback. Good to have you as part of our discussion group. If you have questions, please ask.

  12. Jonnie the Bart

    Excellent letter, Gen. Satterfield, once again proving that you had an interesting childhood with good parents and relatives like your Grandpa Douglas Satterfield. Keep these letters coming our way. 👍

  13. Doug Smith

    From growing up in a small town and finding jobs to do https://www.theleadermaker.com/letters-to-my-granddaughter-no-65/ to walking with his grandfather Douglas Satterfield, the boy Gen. Doug Satterfield, as we know him today, is showing us that you can grow when needed but you MUST be focused on a goal in your life. And while that goal may change, the fact that you are pursuing a goal must never change. Great job on this article today and it’s good to learn a tiny bit about your grandfather who was born 142 years ago. AMAZING.

    1. Lady Hawk

      Exactly Doug, well said. This is why I’m so into these letters. We get to peek inside the boy brain of Gen. Satterfield when he was little to see what he was thinking and doing. ❤ I love the whole drama.

      1. JT Patterson

        Indeed, another great letter. Marked it in my folder of favorite articles from the brain of Gen. Satterfield.


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