A Tradition of Work

Margie my neighbor across the street is getting her roof done, and I think it's the same Amish family that did my roof about 3 years back, the Byler family. They have a crew of six out there this morning with two of the boys in their young teens, and it's a treat to watch them working together. The younger ones sometimes are doing something with an older fella sitting right next to him walking him through the task. They are passing on the skills.

Dad really hit it off with the Bylers back when they were here working on our roof. He sat outside in the carport in his lawn chair watching them work, and on their breaks he would visit with them talking about all sorts of things. They liked him a lot too. Kindred spirits. They bonded talking about squirrel hunting of all things and their favorite ways to cook 'em, LOL! 

Dad skinned a whole lot of squirrels at the farm back in the day, and when Dad explained to the father of the family William his method for skinning squirrels without getting hair all over the meat, William was thrilled! Right away he brought his two young boys over to hear about Dad's "trick" again, passing on the skills. It was a fun three days for Dad, he was 88 at the time, and a good thing all around.

When I was growing up I spent a lot of time with Dad doing things around the house. We worked on the cars, built things in the garage together, did a lot of hunting & fishing together of course, cleaned the game and sometimes even cooked it up together. I think I was maybe 11 or so when mowing the lawn and keeping the lawn mower running became my job, LOL! Dad was good about teaching me lots of the basic stuff a kid should know about. And I remember too taking a small engines class and a basic shop class in high school where we learned to use both wood and metal lathes and even basic drafting skills. I think though even in the late '70's things were beginning to change and many of the traditional skills were slowly getting left behind.

I ended up going on to college and eventually working with computers, and I left behind most of the things Dad had taught me. When Annie & I bought our first house in Seattle though back in '88 or so, I got myself a tool belt and went to work doing a lot of minor repairs and renovations inside and out. Actually, I did that with the first two houses I owned, but sadly, my tool belt never got the dedicated use it needed to become good and worn. It always had a bit of that "new" feel left to it.

These days, some 30 years later, after working in IT for 20+ years and being a college teacher for almost another 10, I do even less of the basic "stuff" that Dad taught me. Oh, I can still change the oil in my truck, or put in a new battery if I need to. I can still stain the deck, or rebuild a wooden bird feeder that the raccoons mangle, but I wouldn't know where to even start on a brake job on my truck, or a roofing job either for that matter like the Byler family is doing across the road this morning.

Do you remember that Harrison Ford movie "Witness" from back in the '80's? Harrison is a Philadelphia cop who is protecting a murder witness who happens to be Amish. They are hiding out in the Amish community, dealing with the resentment of the community members for the intrusion, but also working to be as much a part of the community as they can under the circumstances. There is a barn raising, and the Philadelphia cop, a former carpenter, and the Amish farmers find a mutual respect for each other and bond over the shared work. I've always liked that part of the movie.

You know, I remember Dad wanted to get him one of those hats. William told us about a small general store not too far from here, coincidentally enough in New Philadelphia, IN now that I think about it, that supplies the local Amish community. It's actually run by one of William's cousins, and we meant to go, but we never made it there before Dad passed a year later. I still think about it sometimes though.

Yes, those three days of working and talking a few years back, it was a Good Thing, all around.  

blog comments powered by Disqus