RELATIONSHIPS

Jack of all Trades

Reflections on a father.

Vicki Price
Pollinate Magazine
Published in
4 min readMar 30, 2021

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Driving, driving, driving. Wheels on pavement. Gray sky. We are heading to Canada. I am sick with a head cold. The kind that makes you feel stoned, only not so much fun.

I am thinking of my Pa. He had lots of jobs: a baker, driving a milk truck, the beef packing plant. All wanting the day to start in the middle of the night. My job as a guitar player keeps me up all night, heading for bed about the time he is heading to work. Two laborers passing in the twilight.

At eighty-two he still rose at four to take care of the local library, his “retirement” job. Full of a nervous energy that did not allow him to lay in bed until a decent hour he took the job because “ You can’t fish all the time.”

He would go to his grave with 13 stents keeping his heart’s arteries open. That was after quadruple bypass. After his last attack, the heart doctor suggested rehab. Dad mentioned this to his general practitioner who said, “What part of I’m 80 years old and hanging sheetrock in the garage when I had my heart attack didn’t the guy understand?”

I pump gas and the fumes rising from the tank remind me of my Dad. He was always in the garage fixing a car. Always covered in grease and the gasoline he used to clean the parts he had taken from the vehicle. A time when a car magically ran without one computer chip and it was possible to repair it in your backyard.

My father made it through the first half of his life on an eighth grade diploma. He got his GED at 50, when he took a maintenance job at the county courthouse that required it. He could fix anything that has an engine including a boiler and elevator. Although electric was always “iffy.”

Dad had been a mechanic during WW2. He was stationed throughout the Pacific and ended that tour in Occupied Japan. Later he would re-enlist and head to Korea. There he was a cook. “Cooks,” he would say, “stayed behind the lines.”

Dad built a kitchen in his garage; he could cook and fix the lawnmower at the same time. This ended the arguing with Mom over which of them was going to cook and which of them was going to clean up the mess. He built his own kitchens, made his own home repairs, fixed his own cars and lawn mowers, as well as boat motors and chainsaws.

He had learned the lessons of the Great Depression and lived his entire life by those rules. He kept a garden and canned its produce, repaired what he could and bought used. The latch on the gate to his garden was handmade — no need for a fancy three dollar one from the hardware store. He hunted and fished and ate what he killed.

Three daughters, no boys. It never bothered Dad. I never heard him long for a son. He taught us girls all he knew from construction to car repair to handling a gun to making a good venison stew. I have no memory of him telling us to go away or not to bother him. He always had time for us and we knew it. If he was busy he made us a part of his work.

To the amusement of our neighbors he would make time to sit in the boat in the back yard and teach us to cast a fishing line while we girls pretended it was a real trip to the river to fish. He would put some gas in an old dish pan, give us each an old paint brush and let us clean the parts he was removing from the carburetor of his latest car (no longer recommended). He shared in every chore in the household. Washing dishes as readily as he mowed the yard. Holding a strong belief that if we all worked together, we could all fish together.

For years my father kept a bowl full of dead watches in the cupboard. Every now and then he would take them down and tinker. Taking them apart and never quite getting them back together. A source of never ending entertainment. One day I took the top off the VCR, put in a tape and hit the go button just to see what was going on in that black box. My Dad’s voice said, “That a girl.”

Setting an example is everything in raising a child. I enjoy work because of my Dad. I love to cook because of my Dad. I am curious to know how our engines run because of my Dad. I work hard to get the most from life because of my Dad. My appreciation of men is rooted in who my father was and the example he set.

©Vicki Price 2021

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Vicki Price
Pollinate Magazine

I am a full time guitar playing song writer. Working with my husband Joe we have spent our lives traveling across the nation playing our brand of country blues.