Category Archives: memories

Workin’ for the Man – Part 1

manhole.gif My cousin, Fernando asked me recently what other kind of work I had done before I turned geek, and why I am not doing that anymore. I kinda put it on the back burner for a while. However, since this blog is all about letting my family know who I am, I thought I’d tell a few work stories. These are the many types of jobs I have held over the years. Please forgive me if I mess up the chronology of it all.

  • Electrician’s Helper
  • Sheet Metal Mechanic’s Helper
  • Music Librarian
  • Apprentice to a Brass Musical Instrument Technician
  • Manufacturing Woodstove mats
  • Tree Planter/Tree Killer
  • Forest Firefighter
  • Painter
  • Iron Worker
  • Cook / Restaurant Manager
  • Musical Instrument Repair Technician
  • Business Owner
  • Computer Programmer
  • Other IT stuff

I will chop it into a few separate entries and then in the end, I may join them together in their own page.

Electrician’s Helper

When I was finishing my 8th grade year of school, my dad (a homebuilding contractor) arranged for me to work for his electricical subcontractor, Heyward. I was legally too young to work, but Heyward paid my $25 a week (a princely sum for me) out of his pocket. The work was hard and hot and I am sure that I wasn’t a good worker. Once while digging a ditch for an electrical wire, I was so tired and uninspired that I stopped to rest. I started working again when the boss arrived. I don’t remember him being angry, but he didn’t let me off the hook completely either. He told me that the way to do it is to work when the boss isn’t around so when he arrives, you can stop and shoot the breeze with him. Good advice. I learned to install plugs and switches in houses. The hard part (at least for a youngster) is installing the cover plates on the wall after they have painted without getting the wall dirty. Although I am sure I didn’t recognize it at the time, it was a great experience for me. Thanks Dad.

Next time, I’ll tell a story or two about being a Sheet Metal Mechanic’s Helper…


Workin’ for the Man Series

Back on the Horse

When I was a little guy, about 5-7 years old, I was visiting my grandparents in Southside, West Virginia. Their house was right across the road from a farm owned by the Hopson’s. I honestly don’t know what drew me to Hopson’s farm beyond the fact that I was not from the country, but I was drawn to it for sure. They had cows and pigs… probably a lot more animals than that, but cows and pigs are what I remember. The cows would graze near the road and “look in our eyes”! I don’t know if it was me or my brother who was scared of the cows “looking in our eyes”.

jim-on-pistol.jpg One day, I went for a ride on their horse, Pistol. Someone led me because I was not an experienced rider. I don’t know for sure who was there. What I do know is that they walked Pistol and me across the pasture to the other side, near the highway. What I didn’t know at the time (that would have been extremely valuable information) was that Pistol had a habit of running as fast as he could to the barn. That’s it. No particular reason, but to run as hard as he could to the barn where he would just stop running. Sounds like Forrest Gump.

Somewhere along the ride, the person who was leading Pistol had either let go of the reigns or didn’t have a tight grip. Pistol decided to take advantage of the situation and go to the barn. He wasn’t interested in a leisurely stroll, but bolted for the barn and I didn’t know what to think. Here I am, a little boy on the back of this horse running like his tail was on fire. Panicked and not knowing why he was running or how far and long he would run, I began to reason that I must jump or fall off. I started scooting to the side so I could get off. Fortunately, falling off of a running horse is much scarier than staying on, so I stayed put. Pretty soon, Pistol reached his beloved barn and stopped.

The whole ride couldn’t have lasted more than two or three minutes, but it was indelibly marked in my memory. I am so thankful that I was not successful at getting off while he was running. If I had been, that day might well have been remembered for something else.

Family, do you remember that day? What do you remember? Who was there? What time of year was it? How old was I? Did you see me on the horse? What did you feel in that moment? Afterwards?

Bell’s School

On one of our first dates Jeanie and I were driving around Charleston and I realized we were near where I went to nursery school (aka day care). I told Jeanie she was in for a surprise because I was going to show her some place that was part of my history. I stopped the car in front of a house that had been transformed into a day care with a fenced backyard playground. A hand painted sign out front said, “Bells Nursery School”. We called it Bell’s School. She looked at me as if to say, “you are kidding.” What she said was, “I went to daycare here too!”

Continue reading Bell’s School

High School Reunion

Last weekend was my 30th High School Reunion and I don’t get it. None of my classmates showed up. Instead, they all sent their parents in their place!

Seriously it was a great time. It seemed to me that everyone was more relaxed than at previous reunions. Maybe we have finally gotten to a place in life where we are going to just be ourselves no matter what people think. Or maybe we just don’t really remember one another and we pretend that we do. Or maybe it was just me who doesn’t care any more and can’t remember anyone.

That’s not true though. While there were a few that I honestly don’t remember at all, there were a few who I would have recognized anywhere. In the middle of a conversation, I noticed Doug walk by and made a mental note to be sure to say hello to him.

As soon as the opportunity presented itself, I walked up to Doug, looked him in the eye and said with confidence, “I don’t remember a lot of people here, but I sure remember you.” Without looking at his nametag, I asked, “How are you, Mike?”

I thought he would burst with laughter as he pointed to his nametag and said, “I am Doug. Mike is my brother.”

I know my face was red, but it was way too funny for me to be embarrassed for long.

It was interesting to notice my feelings around my old friends. Thirty years ago, when we were together all the time, we were teenagers with all the hormones and emotional overload that goes with it. Talk about intense feelings! When I felt my stomach do the little flip thing, I asked myself what it was all about and realized that I was reliving some of those old feelings both good and bad. When I realized it, I gave the feelings a 48-year-old kick in the pants. No one knows what I’m feeling. No one can see inside me. And I am not the same person I was 30 years ago… and neither are they.

We have some special memories that only we can share and friendships that will remain for our whole lives. I am blessed!