My Father’s shops

My father's shop in town.

My father’s shop in town.

Today would have been my father’s 79th birthday. He didn’t even reach 60. He died in 1989 on a cool April day in the upstairs of his shop with his dogs while the sheriff’s car that he was supposed to fix was running, but that isn’t what this post is supposed to be about. Today, I would like to remember a few snippets about my father and where he worked. Perhaps my sisters will be kind enough to stop by and share their own stories.

When I think of my father my mind always goes to his shops. It didn’t matter if it was the old car shed on the farm, the great big steel building on the farm, or his shop in town that now sits behind my house. Every time I see a large full moon slipping over the horizon, I remember back to a beautiful summer night when we were all outside, and the bright orange moon popped over the eastern horizon like a pumpkin rising out of its patch. That moon seemed to be as large as the small white granary in the middle of the line up of buildings on the eastern side of the farmstead. I was riding my bike around the yard, my siblings were playing at tag or something while my mother was talking to my father as he was working on a piece of equipment in that old car shed/shop of his.

Shortly before we moved into town, he built a large steel building on the farm so that he could put entire pieces of equipment inside while he worked on them. He added a large work table to the side of the building for tools so he could lay smaller parts on it while he worked, but he kept that old table in that old shop. It seems he left that vice on it too. As a child I must have looked up to him more than I realized, as each spring, I would take my bike into that old shop and oil the chains and attempt to inspect its various parts trying to “fix” it up just like he would do. Some years I even stuck my bike tires into that vice while I inspected them.

When he finally finished up with his hay hauling business and decided to open his own “fix it” shop in town, I think he would have loved to bring that large steel building and set it up in the backyard, but there was too much concrete and labor invested in it to make moving it worthwhile. Instead, he rented space in it to the neighbors for their large equipment, and he picked an older, round roofed, unused cattle shed to do the job. It was large enough to hold a combine in the 1980s, probably not so much today, but it did the job when he needed it. He equipped it with a good heater, plenty of insulation, a drain system and a refrigerator for pop and snacks. He also put in a pit so he could stand under a car to drain the oil. He had a pit in the car shed on the farm, but this one has steps so you can walk up and down. Also he set it up so it is covered with large timbers that fit right into place, so we never have to worry about anyone or anything falling into that pit. On a daily basis, I still appreciate him for doing that.

My brother lives on the farm now. He has wanted to tear down that old car shed a few times. I realized today why I was always against that idea. His big steel building is still standing, and his shop here in town is slowly being upgraded with my brother’s know how and money from me and the sisters. I once thought the only thing of value in that shop was the concrete, but as I write this today, I realize we shouldn’t despise that building for being the place where our father breathed his last, we should embrace and celebrate it for being the place that gave him purpose and worth. Perhaps it is time we use it for more than just a storage shed.

A view of the large doors. My brother redid these. You can also see the little lean to my dad added to the back for more storage.

A view of the large doors. My brother redid these. You can also see the little lean to my dad added to the back for more storage.

The main workbench on the west wall. James has it full of his stuff right now.

The main workbench on the west wall. James has it full of his stuff right now.

The boards over the pit.

The boards over the pit.

The north bench under the steps. He did bring that vice to town.

The north bench under the steps. He did bring that vice to town.

11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Glenda
    Aug 30, 2013 @ 16:44:19

    Your dad was a mechanical genius and never even realized it. He built better stack-movers than anything you could buy on a lot and could fix anything. They could (should) both still be here!!

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  2. Adrienne Knoepfle Dupper
    Aug 30, 2013 @ 11:13:52

    As the years go by
    …I think of how much dad and Steve would have enjoyed tinkering on Steve’s manure truck how many years he cheated himself out of by his addiction. I still crave the smell of grease as it reminds me of dad. I recall some of his favorite things to eat were popcorn, ice cream and halupsy. He usually make a huge kettle full of popcorn each night and almost once a week made halupsy. He ate his vanilla ice cream with crackers and chocolate syrup. Maybe we will have to add ice cream to our picnic Sunday in honor of him…

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  3. handmadebyjo
    Aug 30, 2013 @ 08:10:16

    It seems we are from the same kind of men.

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  4. The Belmont Rooster
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 22:21:58

    Every man needs a shop!

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  5. Garden Walk Garden Talk
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 19:20:13

    Sad but you did find reason of purpose and worth.

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