Less than three months before graduation, on February 26, 1950, John received the call he’d been both expecting and dreading. His father had finally lost his long struggle with emphysema. While John did what he could to comfort his mother, he also thought about his own future and knew he had a decision to make. He had reached a fork in the road of his life.

John’s heart was set on graduate school. Closing the doors of his father’s modest operation would have been easy - except for one complicating factor: the termite guarantees his father had sold. These guarantees required the North Alabama Termite Company to perform annual termite inspections free of charge for five years. Several hundred homeowners had purchased these contracts. If it had been another kind of business, his hard-working mother, Leona, might be able to step in. But running the North Alabama Termite Company was hardly considered “woman’s work” in 1950.

John was also concerned for Jo, who had worked diligently to help him earn his degree. She recognized John’s talent and longed for him to earn his master’s degree and continue in architecture. While returning to Decatur was not the option she preferred, she resolved to support his decision, knowing deep inside what the choice would be.

After attending the funeral in Decatur, John and Jo returned to Atlanta for John’s final classes. What should they do? Which direction should they take?

Excerpt 2, Excerpt 3

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