Lucky Thirteen

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Col. F.M. Woods
Col. F.M. Woods

Frederick Moffatt Woods, the father of the Woods Brothers, was born August 13, 1844. He was told that it was a Friday. Friday the thirteenth. Counter to the growing superstition of his day that the coincidental phenomenon of day and date was unlucky, he came to consider it good luck. Lucky thirteen.

As a boy in Illinois, Woods was struck and bitten by a rattlesnake that had thirteen rattles. It was reported that the lad recovered from the attack, “without the aid of whiskey.” Throughout his successful career as an international auctioneer, he claimed to have conducted his best business on those rare Fridays the thirteenth.

Of F.M. Woods it was said that he, “possessed a peculiar style of eloquence—earnest, forceful, logical, and convincing always.” These skills were apparent in his proud crusade to promote the State of Nebraska and its resources, and to spread the word about the importance of good agricultural practices such as soil improvement techniques and livestock breeding enhancements.

This work ultimately resulted in Woods being recognized for his vision and tenacity on Friday April 13, 1923 by the University of Nebraska’s Department of Agriculture with an honorary Doctorate.

Of course, his descendants became extraordinarily savvy developers and businessmen in real estate. It is perhaps no surprise that in 1871 F.M. Woods sold his family’s farm in Illinois for a net profit increase of roughly 13 times—a pretty tidy sum.

In a way, Woods became inspired by 13, and especially by Friday the thirteenth. Who may guess what nuances or phenomena will motivate and inspire us, and why? Perhaps it is for the best that F.M. Woods never checked to learn that August 13, 1844 was actually a Tuesday.

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