Factory Work is Honest and Good Work!
The picture above is of my father and three relatives at an Xmas party, probably in the 1960’s. He worked for Bower Roller Bearings as an inspector. Every morning he dressed for work and he looked like he was going to an office job, not a factory job. He was very proud of the work he did. Notice in the photo that my dad is playing cards. He is wearing a tie, white long-sleeved shirt, and a suit. The rest of my relatives are wearing casual clothing.
(The following is taken from my book, Life Everlasting and the Twelve Mile Blues.)
“Daddy was single, although he didn’t like the idea. Marriage suited him, but he hadn’t much luck with the other women he had married. One died in childbirth (my half-sister), and the other he caught making love with another man in his own bed. And we don’t know what happened to the others. When Daddy loved, it was complete. And so when he gave all of his money to a wife, including a mink coat, he thought love would last forever. He was willing to wear sole-less-newspaper-lined shoes just to make her happy. Yet nothing he could give or do could make her love him as much as he loved her.
Daddy was of medium height, slightly on the thin side, with glossy black hair that shined until his death. Dark skin hinted at his Cherokee ancestry. Always impeccably dressed, even on the floors of Bower Roller Bearings, he used to boast about his weight that always stayed between 155-160. As a child, my father loved learning, thinking about the world, and reading, but was forced to quit elementary school in the sixth grade and work on the farm.
One day when he was plowing a field, the mules jerked his arm and broke it. His family wrapped it up without taking him to a physician to get the bones set. That disfigured and scarred arm was frozen at a right angle for the rest of his life. When World War II was raging, he could not enlist because of his arm. He felt humiliated by this childhood defect all of his life, and almost always wore long-sleeved shirts. He smoked and always held the cigarette or cigar in his left hand so that no one would notice.”
My father died when I was only 22 but I will always be thankful for the hammer and paint brush he put in my hands. He taught me how to mow the grass and hoe a row of anything.
On hot days we would sit on the picnic table in the back yard. Most of the time we argued about politics and world events. He smoked and drank Carling’s Black Label or Pabst Blue Ribbon. One day I said I wanted to smoke. He said, “Here, I will give you a cigarette and you can smoke it.” So he stuck a Camel cig in my mouth and lit it. I choked. The paper and leaves stuck to my mouth and lips, and then I threw up. I never ever thought of smoking again. It was the same thing with alcohol. I could have had as much as I wanted, but I never wanted. It was always available.
One more story is interesting and frightening at the same time. My dad was also a detective for Selvidge Secret Service in Detroit. (His cousin owned it.) I searched for the name on Google but it must be gone now. During vacations we would visit relatives in Kentucky and Tennessee. One day a car followed us and kept shooting at us. I guess my father had discovered something they did not like. It was not long after that he quit his moonlighting job as a detective.
I am so thankful for the open, progressive, and critical side of my dad. While we did not agree on much of anything, he opened my mind and trained it so well that I was able to win a Ph.D. from the Jesuits. I think the Ph.D. belongs to him. He would have certainly gone on to college if he had had the opportunity or the cash. Just before he died, he said,
“Go on with your education, no one can take that away from you.”
Here is one more pic of him!