Growing up, my Dad was the original “Maker of Things.”
Summer-time weekends were always spent on the jet boat he built his senior year of shop class in high school. When I was 2, he built me a bed — not out of pallets like I did for my daughters, but a better-than-store-bought bed with cut-outs in the headboard, and drawers beneath the mattress. My baby dolls also slept well in a cradle he built for them that now resides in my girls’ room. Many of the toys and furniture we had were built by him. In junior high, when I decided I needed hurdles to practice at home with to further my track career, I had them the very next weekend.
His frienda called him MacWalter in homage to MacGyver, the popular 80′s tv show where the main character routinely saved the day with only a paper-clip, a wad of chewing gum & a rubber band.
While I was in college he made me a set of drawers out of a tree stump that we found on a camping trip. It’s still one of my favorite possessions.
His biggest building accomplishment (though I’m still pretty impressed by the jet boat) is by far his passive-solar-heated house that he built with only the help of my Mom & family here and there from the ground up. I can only think of 3 things that he didn’t do himself in that house: pour the foundation, though if my memory serves correctly, he built the forms; stucco the 35′ wall the runs the entire height of the house, and build the kitchen cabinets – though I he could have & I wonder if he regrets not doing it.
That house took up a large chunk of my childhood. We moved in years before it was completed and just kept moving our stuff into the rooms as they were finished — which took many years. But that meant that stuff was constantly being made around me and I was involved. My earliest job at the age of 6 was picking up nails. Later I became a pro at filling nail holes, sanding & staining woodwork & trim. I also became the resident wall-paper installer (It was the 90′s!!).
I have so many memories of my father in his wood-shop, the smell of sawdust & building almost anything that when he and my Mom came for a visit a few weeks ago, I was thrilled when he wanted to build a bird house with my girls. It was a pretty hot day, thus their enthusiasm over the project waned a bit once it got right down to it, but I hope it’s memory they will treasure always. Just as I do all my time spent with my Daddy in his shop. I think it’s fairly obvious that I am a “Maker of Thing” because he was.