Thanks Dad, For Teaching Me the Shoemaker Job

Phil-2

Every Father’s Day my dad comes to haunt me. It is no different today. Memories of the many times he counseled me and taught me the meaning of work run through my mind. His teaching method was simple. He never asked for help, he just did what dad’s do to labor. He got up early, ate his simple breakfast, and walked two miles to his job. He did this for forty-five years without complaint.

His example is all I needed to spur me to learn what he was doing, and to learn how he did it. We were not Hillary Clinton poor, we were dirt poor. As a result, Dad made many repairs on a shoestring. One job that comes to mind today was repairing rotted window sills. There wasn’t enough money in the till to buy new windows, and his mind-set was why buy a whole window for the sake of one board? His fix was to first dig out the rotted wood. Then he cut a scrap piece of good wood to fit loosely into the space. Next, he then generously smoothed a layer of heavy black tar to the frame, and then placed the new board into the goo. A couple of reclaimed wood screws held it firmly into place. The last step was to fill the seams at the ends to keep water out. He called it a “shoemaker job.” That wasn’t a derogatory slam at a shoemaker, but rather a compliment to the ingenuity of the shoe repairing trade.

Dad taught me to appreciate a “shoemaker” job. In my youth, I was never satisfied with less than perfection on my home repairs, but as I aged, visions of watching Dad do his “shoemaker” jobs finally changed my mind to become more satisfied with completion and less with perfection. Completion resulted in more time with my family where perfection denied me those minutes.

Happy Father’s Day to my Sons, Son-in-Law, Brother, Brother-in-Law, Nephews, Nephews-in-Law, and all my friends who are fathers.

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JR Sr.

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Happy Father’s Day to all. The photo above is of my Dad with my sister and me. This photo was taken on a Sunday. How do I know? Dad always dressed up on Sunday to go to mass. He stayed dressed for the day. During the week, he wore blue work shirts and blue work pants. Most days he looked like he worked in a coal mine. He came to America from a small town in Hungary. His half-sister Anna and her husband sponsored him. He arrived at Ellis Island at age seventeen with but a few coins in his pocket. Somehow he found his way to Burnside in Chicago. There, he stayed at a local boarding house until my Great Uncle got him a job at the Illinois Central Rail shops on 95th and Cottage grove Avenue. His job involved doing repair on the brakes of rail cars. When he reached sixty-five years he retired from the same job.

Dad was a maniac for hard work. His idea of retirement fun was to cut tall grass with a scythe on his farm in Michigan. He created a park with a baseball field for his grandkids. We spent many weekends visiting and there was always a baseball tournament going on the entire weekend.

Dad was an excellent father and a superb role model for me, my brother, and Sis.

 

The Real Grampa Joe

The Real Grampa Joe

My dad left Hungary when he was just seventeen years old. His father told him he had to go to America because he could no longer feed him.  I admired him for the courage it took to make a move like that. He never looked back. Once he arrived in the USA it became his new home, and he adapted quickly. His sponsor was my Aunt Anna and her husband John. Uncle John worked for the Illinois Central Railroad. It was Uncle John who got dad his first and only job in America.

Dad worked as a laborer at the Burnside shops. He became an expert at repairing brakes on rail cars. During his career as a laborer, he received several awards for money-saving suggestions for how to improve the efficiency of brake beam repair.

Dad met Mom in Burnside and that is where they married. They bought a house with one of the very first Savings and Loans mortgages. They lived in that house and raised three kids there. At age seventy, Dad bought Mom her dream house in Calumet Park. He took out a loan and paid it off before he died.

Dad was a staunch Democrat. He voted the way his boss told him to vote because he didn’t want to rock the boat with his job. Dad and Mom lived as conservatives. They would have died from shame had they accepted welfare. They didn’t have much, but they knew how to make it stretch and to work for them. They made today’s Green Movement look like a bunch of wasteful polluters. There wasn’t anything Dad or Mom wouldn’t reuse or recycle into something of value.  Sometime, I’ll tell the story of being sent out to the street to collect horse manure for Mom’s garden, or  going to the railroad tracks to collect coal from the roadbed, or about raising pigeons and chickens for Sunday meals, or about using old pieces of rubber to fix worn tires.

Dad taught me moodiness, and quiet. He also taught me honesty, love, and the value of hard work. He taught me love by example. He and my mother parted only by death after sixty-four years of marriage.

Dad retired at sixty-five from the very same job he got when he arrived from Hungary. He never complained, he just kept working hard, and kept on loving us the best he knew how. He remained independent until his last week on earth. When he realized his loss of independence, he left the same way he came, alone.

Happy Father’s Day

Share with me!

Attack Cobra for Grumpa Joe's Garden by Benjamin age seven

This card is very inventive. The cobra pops out when the card is opened. Ben is also the lad who sorrowfully asked Grumpa Joe not to harm the Wabbit. He has seen the error of his ways, however, by offering a carniverous reptile to help reduce the Wabbit population.

Love from Grumpa Joe's Oldest- notice the Wabbit lurking in the corner waiting for the Lobelia to bloom.

Love from Grumpa Joe's artist Jenna Rose age seven

Eliminate Father’s Day

A recent news article spoke about the huge number of babies being born in Northern European countries to unwed mothers. Countries like Norway, Sweden, and Finland have as many as sixty percent of their children born to mothers without husbands.  Is this something to brag about? It is clear that POTUS’ vision for America is to make the USA like Europe. Does the USA really want to embrace European Socialism?  Let’s begin by eliminating Father’s Day.

Coach Obama Speaks to the Team

Cherry Pie and the Kids

Grumpa Joe Looks at FlowerWhat a great weekend this has been for me! Yesterday, I had the honor of being with my three children and their families. We celebrated the birthday of my namesake grandson. All of his cousins and uncles were there from my side of the family. From his dad’s side he had his one aunt and his grandparents.

Today, Peggy and I ventured out to mass at Saint Anthony’s Catholic Church. Afterward, we visited the Frankfort Farmer’s Market. She bought a fresh cherry crumble pie. We were home only an hour when Peg’s grand daughter Shannon came by. It is her birthday, she is twenty seven. Our plan was to have a party for her, but her mom had to work and her sister was out of town. Instead, we accepted an invitation to eat lunch with my daughter and her family. We haven’t done that in quite some time. They took us to the Brazilian Steak House in Tinley Park. The food was good, and the wine was even better. Afterward we adjourned to our house for cherry pie and ice cream. Peg and I are so stuffed, we can’t move.

Later in the evening, son Mike came over with his three kids. We sat and chatted for over two hours. Its even more fun when the children are old enough to participate in the adult conversation. I showed Danny my cukaracha shirt. He wasn’t impressed, he still likes his shirt better.

Kids, I love you and cherish every moment we spend together.

This afternoon, Peggy called her son to wish him a happy father’s day. She reached him in a car on Interstate 65, eighty miles south of Indianapolis. He is on his way home from vintage drag races in Bowling Green, Kentucky. I spoke with Larry and got a first hand account of the day at the races.

It rained this afternoon, and that kept us in the house. Tonight, our Concerts on the Green begin with a SInatra Impersonator.  If it is not rained out, the program should be very good.

How much more could a father-grandfather ask for? I’m not sure my  heart can take any more excitement.

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