The old man was a tough task master for me while growing up. The longer I live, the more I can look back on the lessons and realize his mentoring was just what I needed to become respectable and self-sufficient. I learned to have confidence and survive under adverse conditions.
Growing up, I never really worried about his providing for us because, well, he always did. We lacked money and luxury, but I never thought we were undernourished or without plenty of entertainment. The word bored was not one I can recall using when describing my day to day life. My father was a man who had an overabundance of suggestions to keep me busy as he was himself always on the task of something. If we were low on food he would know Continue reading
The summer got shorter, and so did my construction job, as I was enrolled at Castleton State College for the fall semester. Being on the construction crew still required me to be there at an early hour, usually 6 days a week as the deadline for finishing the bridge neared. This made for very tense times when it rained, or when the specialty skills guys couldn’t make it.
The rest of us were pushed onward and upward to get things ready for the “big guns” to inspect the work, such as the angle of the bridge approach, the amount of right of way, and the pouring of the structural concrete. Being nineteen years old, I made sure my life was fun as well as productive. My mother was a big fan of me never being idol, making sure I was up in time to get to work. A motivational alarm clock, if you will. Some days I’d make it to work early, and fall asleep in my car at the job site. If I did fall asleep, I’d be awakened by a fellow worker or the foreman rapping on the windshield, telling me to get up and get started.
I was on the crew picked to cut the trees for the right of way, and pile the debris to be burned. We had spent the week cutting and piling so the heavy equipment guys could make sure the entrance and exits onto the bridge were ready to set, and the temporary crossing was clear for everyday traffic. We had a giant pile of brush and chunks of wood ready to be burned. The workers with carpentry skills were on the bridge building the forms that would hopefully soon be full of concrete.
Another worker, a year or so younger than me, was on the job that day too. He was a pleasant kid, and told me he had a wife and a baby at home. I wondered how he’d gained all this responsibility at his age. We got along well and had become friendly during the time we had spent on the same tasks. He was supposed to help me control the burn and clean up the area. We had chainsaws and gasoline cans around in case we had to make further cuts for managing the project. There were storage tanks of fuel to fill the heavy equipment machinery. I remember standing next to the brush pile and telling my coworker friend to go and get 5 gallons of diesel fuel oil to start the pile on fire. He took off in a chipper mood with the empty can.
I was leaning on my shovel when he returned and said he’d soak the pile so we could get a good ignition and feed the fire. I stood and watched as he shook the last drop out of the can. In great anticipation I watched him squat down to strike the match. As soon as his hand swiped across the friction pad on the match book, Continue reading
During the time adolescence turns to adulthood, dreams become prevalent about what profession might bring both satisfaction and large earnings. When I was in college, in the early 70’s, the time between semesters brought a couple of jobs I had randomly acquired. These soon fell off the list of things I’d choose for future careers.
I will be the first to admit that I am someone who has been described as accident prone. I have been getting injured since clumsy toddler-hood (check my mother’s entries in my baby book) and have not had a respite from damaging my body since.
Despite all the signals, I still found myself working a construction job building a bridge in southern Vermont. The job had a variety of risky tasks to perform working toward its completion. Safety rules were not as diligently observed then as they are now. The owner of the construction company decided to recycle the steel beams that spanned Continue reading
As an antique dealer, I’ve been on hundreds of meetings with clients to buy antiques and collectibles. Each time I enter the home of a potential client to make a purchase, it is a very curious and unpredictable conversation. I’ve bought some wonderful and valuable items and I’ve also bought thousands of average and interesting, yet not so valuable items. I always enjoy looking at things, no matter what they are. It’s an adventure to view people’s personal collections, or items they have accumulated during the setting up of their own homes. Yard sales create similar excitement when I find something I take a fancy to. I have bought tools that I use, and pieces that add to my personal collections and interests. I also like to find things my wife and daughter can use and enjoy.
One of my most vivid memories in my years of antiquing was when Continue reading