Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Wooden Tie - One Year Later -


There's a wooden tie hanging on my wall.

Here's the story.

My father held at least forty-seven jobs in his lifetime, never really picking up roots in one particular career.

A month ago, I was checking my email, and noticed that he mailed me some of his writing projects about nine years ago.  Called the email "Just Some Junk To Read", in his true self-deprecating way. I remember reading and discussing his autobiographical accounts. Just didn't realize I still had the copies.

Here's a summation, in his own words, of the the work which shaped him:

  1. Helping my grandfather milk cows  (age 8)
  2. Moving lawns for a real estate salesman (12)
  3. Started own business selling bags of candy (age 13)
  4. Sorting old pennies (14)
  5. Running the gas station and the sporting goods counter at the Buckhorn Lodge (age 14)
  6. Running a switchboard for an old folks home (age 15)
  7. Printers Apprentice  (age 15)
  8. Making Donuts (age 16)
  9. Started window washing business (age 17)
  10. Dishwasher for a Chinese Restaurant (age 17)
  11. Houseman for Del Monte Lodge at Pebble beach (18)
  12. Window washer for Holiday Inn in Carmel (age 18)
  13. Waiter for a Restaurant on the Wharf in Monterey (age 19)
  14. Gas station attendant in Cupertino (age 20)
  15. US Navy (age 20) He served stateside for two years.
  16. Short order cook at EM club (age 21)
  17. Gas station attendant in Monterey (age 24)
  18. Store clerk for Proximity Devices (age 26)
  19. Expediter for Schlage lock (age 26)
  20. Warehouse supervisor for Atari (age 27) This was right when the Atari 2600 (called the VCS until 1982) came out.
  21. Warehouse Manager for Atari (age 28) I was born this year.
  22. Distribution Manager for Warner Brothers (age 29) Atari had been sold to Warner Brothers in 1976, so this was a lateral move.
  23. Started own wood working business (age 29)
  24. Shipping supervisor HH Robertson (age 30)
  25. Material control Supervisor HH Robertson (age 31) Sister born this year.
  26. Computer Supervisor for Gallo Warehouse (age 32)
  27. Delivered Chronicle newspaper (age 32)
  28. Sold at flea markets (age 33) Brother born this year.
  29. Janitor and floor man (age 34)
  30. Delivered newspapers (age 35)
  31. Assembled bulk candy machines and placed them (age 36)
  32. Contract Focus programmer for a risk management company (age 38)
  33. Sold at flea markets (age 38)
  34. Contract Focus programmer for Martin Construction (age 38)
  35. Delivered newspapers (age 38)
  36. Team lead programmer at Quantel Business Systems (age 39)
  37. Warehouse man for Modesto School District (age 40)
  38. Delivered newspapers (age 41)
  39. Started used bike business at home (age 42)
  40. Sold at flea markets (age 43)
  41. Started a store front for used bike business (age 44)
  42. Contract Focus programmer for UCSF (age 46)
  43. Contract Focus programmer for Charles Schwab (age 48)
  44. Contract Focus programmer for Coke in Atlanta (age 50)
  45. Contract Focus programmer for Clorox in Oakland (age 50)
  46. Started Ebay business (age 51)
  47. Crystal programmer for Yosemite Farm Credit (age 52)

 On one of his programming jobs, a middle manager ordered my father to dress more formally.

In response, my father headed to the garage. He loved his woodworking time. As a boy, I'd creep into his space, lie flat on the matted clothes which soaked up the floor, and quietly watch him work.

He made several dozen wooden ties over the next few weeks. Wore them to work until management gave up and let him dress as he pleased.

He tried to sell them (along with other handicrafts) when money was tight, but they were just too pretty and weird for anyone to purchase in the flea markets we attended, wedged in between the live chickens and the bootleg VHS tape salesmen.

The weekend after my father died, my brother and sister traveled to Oregon.  Found a cache of the ties tucked in a shed, forgotten by time.

And, a few weeks later, at his rehearsal dinner, my brother offered them as wedding gifts.

Look at them.

There's a precision and a clean, simple beauty to these. He always made things so well, with his two hands.

I look at it constantly. Swinging softly on a hook.  This talisman.

Gonna log off and listen to "Cosmic Love" forty times in a row.

Just like last year.

Love you, Dad.

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