Sunday, June 7, 2009
This is a drawing done by Dad. I have no idea what this contraption is. I do marvel at it, though. I'm the daughter of an engineer and rest comfortably on the far left of the scientific and math skills bell curve. My Mom and I were the only right handers in a family of lefties and whatever anecdotal evidence there may be about the connection between handedess and scientific ability, I sign off on it completely. And even though my poor math skills are essentially what damned me to a high school courseload of classes where I learned how to write checks and count back change (sample classroom speaker: "Let's face it, none of us in this room are 4 year college people. Have you considered the military?") and an exciting tenure in junior college (sample classroom speaker: "Miss, would you please take the baby outside? It doesn't appear he'll stop crying anytime soon."), I still respect this foreign tongue.
This engineeringescheift (made up) seems missing here out west. Coming from Cincinnati and the east in general, it seems we are more exposed to the mechanical pings and tings of industry. Out here, things are a little too sanitized and glossed over for my comfort. Once, my friend Pam (daughter of an engineer) and I, got drunk and started talking wistfully about....I'm not totally sure....mechanical shit? She remembered how her Dad, a train fanatic, made her listen to recordings of train sounds on the weekends and I shared about how growing up in the shadow of Dayton, Ohio and being the daughter of an airplane fanatic meant that every summer weekend was one endless air show and trip to Wright-Patterson AFB after another. Don't even get me started on the fact that nearly every field trip in school meant a trip up the interstate to the Wright Brothers' s shop, again. And again.
Any my sister, who makes a living counting trees for the National Parks Service told me she could never understand why someone would study sociology like I did because, in her words, "God, people are boring." Indeed.
My favorite melancholy mechanical memory involves a story my friend Christian told me a long time ago, about his Grandfather, who ran a hardware and machining shop. Apparently, he was famous for never having missed a day of work in 40 odd years. When he passed away, Christian (himself a constant tinkerer) inherited his ledger. In ornate, old-fashioned script, was every item ever sold in his store over the decades, each day accounted for. On a whim, Christian looked up his birthdate to imagine what his Grandfather had been doing that day. To his surprise, the page was blank. The date was noted, but his Granddad didn't go in to work that day. Christian's birthday had been the one day he chose to miss in all that time.
I'm not really sure where I'm going with this entry. I think I am just nostalgic and a little reverent for a time or a place that I don't get to visit much anymore. And I don't know what to do with my Dad's drawing except hang it up and wait around for someone to ask me about it, but that seems pointless. So instead, I'm sitting here drinking a beer and wishing that these words were instead something I could hold in my hand.