Occupation: Owner/manager, Midland Restaurant
Family: Married to Mercedes. They are parents to five children, one who is deceased. They have 12 grandchildren and “almost” three great-grandchildren. His third great-grandchild is due in the next couple weeks.
Jerry St. Clair, owner of Midland Restaurant, went to school to become a doctor and graduated with a pre-med degree but didn’t get into medical school right away. Since he worked in the restaurant business while in school, he stuck with it while waiting to get into medical school.
“I liked the restaurant business, and it got into my blood. I went to work for the guy who owned this place for 10 1/2 years. Then he sold it to my wife and me, and we paid it off in nine years.”
Here is Jerry St. Clair:
What was your first paying job?
“I worked on a farm hauling hay in Southwest Virginia where I am originally from for 50 cents an hour.”
If you could do one impulsive thing, unrestricted by cost, what would it be?
“I would jump on a plane and travel. I would see all 50 states and head for Europe where I would see all the important sites. Then head for Scotland, the home of my ancestors.”
What are you guilty of?
“Procrastination. I am bad about putting things off and over-studying problems.”
What is one thing you have always wanted to do but have not?
“Visit Gettysburg Battlefield. Gettysburg was the pivotal battle of the Civil War, of which I have been a lifelong student. That war has always been of great interest to me. It was the horrific event that forged this country into a nation.”
What are you reading currently?
“ ‘Red Badge of Courage,’ by Stephen Crane. It is a remarkable study of the psychology of courage in the Civil War as told from the perspective of a young private. What is more remarkable, Stephen Crane had never experienced war but was able to describe battle scenes with great accuracy and insight.”
Who has been the most influential person of the 2oth Century?
“In my opinion, Franklin D. Roosevelt. He lead us out of the Great Depression and through World War II, which put us on the world stage in our greatest role up until that time and led to our being a world power. Also, he was able to get most of the social legislation through Congress which led to most of the entitlement programs we have today, most notably Social Security.”
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would be?
“I would be more proactive and stop procrastinating.”
What is your passion?
“History, especially the Civil War. That war was what made us a nation. Before that we were a collection of states that got together mainly for trade and self-defense. The end of that war started us on the road to the equality for all our citizens that was promised by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Now, 148 years later, we have come a long way toward that goal. Many feel that we haven’t quite made it all the way. I tend to agree.”
With whom, living or dead, would you most like to have a long lunch?
“Robert E. Lee. He never wrote any memoirs or books about his life’s experiences. All we have is some of his personal papers and what has been written about him. I would like to pick his brain and see what really make him tick and how he reached many of his decisions.”
What do you hate?
“Irresponsible people, especially those who do not support their children. I feel this is one of society’s greatest problems today. The family unit is basic to the structure of society and an absent parent can have extreme long-term effects on a child.”
If you could go back in time for a week, what time period or year would you visit?
“From 1861 to 1865 to get a better understanding of that bloody period in our history.”
What is the best advice your mother ever gave you?
“Always be considerate of others. Treat everyone the way you would want them to treat you.”
What was your first car?
“A 1957 yellow and black Ford I bought in 1968. I paid $150 for it. I loved that car. It was a classic. Unfortunately, I was unable to keep it long. I had it two or three months and the main bearing went out on it.”
What’s your all time favorite song?
“ ‘My Way,’ by Frank Sinatra. That song embodies how I would like to be remembered.”
Is the glass half-full or half-empty?
“Half-full. Even though you may think things are bad or even hopeless at any given time, things always get better. All problems can be solved, and life is great in the greatest country in the history of civilization.