Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Scrapper

I went Green before it was trendy. I've been scrapping out failed hard drives, power supplies, some old motors and worn-out appliances out of habit. It was something my father always did. It was a practice he expected us boys to master as his parents demanded of him. At the time, I didn't like doing it. But the habit stuck.

What others tossed in the landfill, Dad could convert it into something of value. When something broke or he saw a need he could meet through creativity, Dad pulled solutions out of junk piles. He'd spend some time scribbling with pencil and consulting catalogs. Next, he would assemble other components, often from other piles of miscellany he or his junkyard-operator friends maintained. When advance work was finished, he'd enter the shop and convert the junk into an asset.

He was the sort of Dad who, when asked if I could have a new bike, would point toward a pile of scrap and say, "You'll find the parts for one over there." Then he would help me clean up threads, patch inner tubes and straighten spokes.

So Mom never complained too much about the junk piles. He did move or diminish them every decade or two. He had special piles for scrap copper, brass, and aluminum as I do now. There are other piles for scrap iron and steel, which aren't hauled off as often.

He absolutely hated hearing Hank Williams, Jr. sing "A Country Boy Can Survive." I'd torment him by bellowing out the lyrics. But Dad was a survivor. Born in 1930 he wouldn't have ate if his family failed to convert scrap into treasure. He grew up in a junkyard. Junk built a solid future for the family following WWII as the country embraced peace and prosperity. The family shifted from trading scrap and bought farm land.

As I have been scrapping, I've reflected more on my legacy from Dad, a retired master electrician and jack of many other trades, who died June 29. I once assumed we didn't share as much in common as he did with my brothers. But as I walk the same paths to the horse barn and the shop and wrap my hands around his tools, he still guides me. The copper I strip out of old motors reminds me of our connection and the blessings that still flow from it.

The "interactive" paper money isn't green anymore, but I am thanks to you, Dad.


Carteach0 said...

I think our fathers would have been friends.

Somerled said...

Dad had many friends although he was a man of few words. He made a boatload just from patching up farm equipment during harvests.