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In Response to RE: Memoir Prompt July, 2012: Most meaningful things you learned from your Parents? by joeamoreland
In many ways your father sounds like mine. As the oldest of nine children, Daddy left school at the age of 14 to help support the family by driving a school bus. He was later able to get more education with some night classes and some on-the-job training with the Navy Yard and Bell Aircraft during WWII before going into business for himself with an air- conditioning, refrigeration and heating company.
Both my parents believed in doing things for themselves and they passed this on to us. However, the way they worked was very different. I think I tend to focus more on the things I learned from my mother because she did more of what is usually thought of as "teaching". She taught me to cook and to sew and to make up my bed.
My mother needed instructions on how to do things and taught us that there are books where you can learn anything you want to know about. From books I've learned to repair my old upright piano, clip my poodle, and play a guitar.
From my father I learned that you don't need instructions to create something. What you really need is the idea. One of my first memories is of my father and his electric train. I think I've written about this before.
When he first brought home the train we had to lay out the track in the middle of the floor and as long as it was there we had to be careful to walk around it. At the time I was 5 and my younger sister was 2. Needless to say it didn't stay on the floor more than a few hours at a time. When I was 7 we built a house with a basement and a table could be built for the train where it could stay up all the time.
I so remember Daddy showing us his new train table in the corner of the basement. He had put together 3 sheets of plywood on legs so that it was waist high, which meant we could barely see over the edge of it. My sister had to bel held up. On to the surface he had drawn roads and a river. The river was painted blue and the roads gray but I was mainly fascinated by the grassy areas which actually looked like grass. He had taken saw dust and sprinkled it on the areas and then painted it green. In addition he had taken an tin can and built a water tower out ot it. We had fun bringing our toy cars and plastic horses from our cowboy and indian sets to add to the arrangement.
Years later we discovered that they made accessories for train sets and we purchased them along with more track and train cars as gifts for Daddy for many years, but the ones we most enjoyed most were the ones we created ourselves.