• Rhonda

A (not really) Famous First, and, Don't Come @ my Punctuation Bro

Picture this:

In the theaters Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, The Naked Gun 2 1/2, and Boyz n The Hood are burning up the screens. Paula Abdul is (ahem) singing - insert eye roll here - 'Rush Rush', Bryan Adams wants you to believe that Everything he does (He does it for you. Yes you. The person currently reading this). Color Me Badd wants to do something to you that is not kid-friendly. Hint: it involves sex. But only up, not down, sideways, or... well, moving on...

Notable in the news? The Chicago Bulls, and probably lots of other people in Chicago, were celebrating the team's first NBA Championship.

And, the body of Zachary Taylor, the 12th president of the U.S. was exhumed, after 141 years in the grave, in order for it to be tested to see if his death had been caused by arsenic poisoning instead of acute gastrointestinal illness; no trace of arsenic is found.

I do not own any of these images. Not even the one in the bottom right hand corner. Although, if the former president, Mr. Zachary Taylor himself would like to sue me: come @ me sir.

Why was I telling you this?? UMMM, oh yeah! It's the summer of 1991

Well, not right now it's not, duh!

Ah yes, the summer of 1991. I had just graduated from high school. Alan on the other hand had just finished his freshman year. He was such a go-getter that at the tender age of 14, he was off to summer school - no he did not need a multi-week dose of remedial education. He had enrolled in the carpentry program at the A. Phillip Randolph Vocational/Technical School, Detroit, Michigan. Alan walked into the school and met the man that would be his instructor for the next 3 1/2 years. Mr. Clear. Alan described him like a 60 year old version of Adam Driver wearing plaid shirts and jeans, and with a big ol' mustache.

On day one Mr. Clear handed Alan, and all the other boys a two foot square piece of plywood. I didn't ask if there were girls in the class, it was a building trades class in 1991, so probably not ;(

Alan was told to cut three, 8-inch squares from the board. They needed to be square.

That's a technical term, square. It means that each side must be EXACTLY the same length, in this case 8 inches long. Each corner must be EXACTLY 90 degrees. And, he was given a hand saw to make that happen. He had to EARN power tools.

It was his first project. Not so famous, but, quite significant. It took him only 2 days. I think that's pretty good. You don't think so? Have you ever used a handsaw. I have. It ain't easy.

Look ma, it's an old-fashion-y, non-electric, arm powered tool.

So, Alan's first project was cutting a piece of board, but of course, it meant more than that.

It meant his first official taste of the career path he'd chosen many years before. At the age when most kids were expressing their desire to be a doctor, veterinarian, lawyer, fire-fighter, ninja, superhero, or, in my case, an equestrian (yes, this from the chubby city-girl who's only exposure to horses was seeing Black Beauty at the movies), Alan decided that he wanted to be a carpenter.

Cutting plywood into pieces first.

Building a toolbox - where each piece/joint was also required to be square came second.

Only after that, after he'd proven that he had the patience and persistence to do something great with primitive hardware, he was allowed to use power tools (insert that choir sound here, you know the one that's in movies when something awesome happens? Yeah, that one). He made jewelry boxes for his mom and grandma. A nameplate for his dad's desk.

By the end of the summer he had competed a dog-house. No, he did not have a dog. He was worried that he wouldn't be alowed to bring it home. Because he didn't. have. a. dog.

I can only imagine how sweet and earnest his young face looked when he asked his dad to take him to pick it up, because I was not there, I didn't even know him then. We don't meet until 4 years later, obviously that's a whole other story. Anyway, if he didn't collect his project, it would be destroyed, the school couldn't keep/store everything everyone made.

The short ending to this story is that yes, his dad said yes, and they went and brought the dog house home.

I think it was with a great sense of pride and awe that Alan would view that dog house everyday when he would see it in his backyard. I get that feeling too when I see the beautiful work that he, and now with our son as his apprentice, does.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, please feel free to leave a positive comment here or at whatever site from which you linked in. : )



As far as the punctuation to which I refered in the title: in addition to not becoming an equestrian, I also did not major in English in college. I write how I talk. With hands waving in huge flapping gestures, and stopping and starting in some sort of halting homage to/impersonation of Jeff Goldblum. So, if you get triggered off of bad grammar, run on sentences, and ridiculous amounts of - or lack of appropriate amounts of punctuation.

My bad. : )

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