I remember many a day in my dad’s shop when I was a very young boy. I would help him with anything he would let me do. I couldn’t wait to wake up early on a Saturday morning and see what he & I would get into. I would always have a secret hope that today might be the day when he would use that particular tool up on the shelf I’d never seen used before. My older brothers were away in the military, and I grew very close to my dad. One morning in the shop out of the blue he told me that one day he would be gone and all of his tools would be mine. I knew I wanted him more than that but I didn’t realize at the time that statement would stay with me for the rest of my life. That was over 40 years ago. He’s been gone now about 5 years. I’ve been able to keep some of his tools, and use some of them regularly. I have an old hand-crank grinder that I used to crank for him while he sharpened something. A hand-held Dremel ‘Motosaw’ that to this day I have never seen anywhere else (I’ll try to post a picture of it sometime). I have some tools he made during his time in the CCC camps before WWII. He had a hard life. There are a lot of times when I feel a twinge of sadness but I feel good knowing that I try to create something beautiful and lasting using something he made and gave me. And in a lot of ways it was something more than just the tools themselves. One thing I learned from my dad was he seemed to know a lot about a lot of things. A jack of all trades and a master of a whole bunch of them. Everything from plumbing, carpentry, electrical work to sheet metal work. I tried to learn as much as I could.
Dad made mistakes like everyone else. He taught me what was more important and that was how to fix things when they did break. I guess that’s why I became an engineer. I learned a lot from him when we tore down old houses. There is a place in town that is now a small park. Before it became a park, my dad and I tore down the houses that were there for the material. We later made a barn from what we were able to collect. I think of dad every time I go by that park. I see the little children playing, having no idea what history took place before the swing set they were on was there. And, myself, I have no idea what history took place before we tore the houses down. But I remember that moment in time. I also remember the million or so red clay bricks we carried home. We used them in the floor of the barn we built.
Today, the barn is gone. There are so many times when I wish was little again cranking that grinder for my dad…