Working in a family business can be very rewarding difficult and wonderful.
To learn a trade at your father’s side is a gift that many people never receive in life. I was one of the fortunate.
My father had a hard life as one of fourteen children born to a father who quit work while many of his children were still young. The boys went out to work early to help support the family.
My father learned early about the value of hard work and survival. He had no choice.
He went to a high school that taught him many different trades. He could fix cars, build anything from the ground up and take risks. What a great list of qualities to go out into the world with.
He was thirty-five when I was born.
I worked next to him on beer coolers, electrical boxes and learned the building trades from him as I grew up. I also learned how to run a business at his knee.
We had four different restaurants and a plastering business created to save our family when the recession of 1962 rolled over us. Restaurants are the first to go under in those circumstances.
He was five nine and weighed 165 pounds most of his life and had boxed in the Army. Having six brothers probably gave him ample chance to practice that activity even before going into the Army for WW ll. He was the third oldest in the long line of children.
He wasn’t a perfect man, but he was a great father most of the time. He taught me all I needed to know from how he behaved.
His work ethic was unsurpassed as was his desire to party when the chance came his way.
If you have seen Humphrey Bogart, you’ve seen my father. My father was just a little slimmer.
He was afraid of nothing and took no guff from anyone.
He taught himself to play the guitar, piano, violin and to speak Spanish.
He wasn’t always there when he was supposed to be, but that taught me a few good lessons about life as well.
He only had a few fights that I know of, and he won them. “Throw the first punch when you figure out that the talking is leading nowhere,” he once told me. “Don’t let the other guy hit you first.” I have never been in a fight. I guess I’m a better talker than he was, or perhaps just a little more patient.
We all suffer pain and loss in this life, but I wouldn’t change a thing in my father. He was a good man and did his best to be his best. He failed as we all do, but seeing those failures taught me how to be a better husband and father.
When I drive around the county I live in I can see many buildings that he and I worked on together all those years ago. Those buildings are permanent reminders to me of him and what he taught me.