Your Grandfather's Apprenticeship

Grandfather was a Kentucky hill boy, born in 1900, whose family owned the local corn mill. There was virtually no paper currency and very little hard money, so the local economy was based upon the barter of corn. This made the family much like the local banker, and they became well to do by that standard of exchange. Rather than having to hoe the family tobacco, grandfather had the option of choosing trade, and at the age of thirteen, apprenticed himself to the local blacksmith. By the time he was in his early twenties, Grandfather had the reputation of being able to make and build anything out of metal. Hearing of this ability, Harvey Firestone came and hired Grandfather out of the blacksmith's shop and took him to Ohio, where the first tire building machine was constructed in Firestone's garage. But, Grandfather's apprenticeship never ended; he went on to establish seventeen manufacturing plants in the US, three in Europe, and established the rubber plantations in India and Southeast Asia. Today, D-line at the Des Moines plant, now owned by Bridgestone, still utilizes ten machines hand built by my Grandfather. My own father was the leading light of the national rubber workers union, until it was busted. The ethic of apprenticeship, which is the subject of my dissertation, is well founded in this story. Until the last few generations, the bond between father and son, grandfather and grandson, was cemented in the love of sharing the knowledge and understanding of their craft...through the daily experience of honest labor. An acquaintance, a seventh generation woodcarver, said it best. "If I tell you it's Chippendale, it's Chippendale...not because of conformity to design...but because I use the same tool and the same technique that I learned from my grandfather, who learned from his grandfather, who learned from his grandfather...who was there. What was your grandfather's trade?
LivingTrade.org http:/groups.google.com/group/senior-apprentice
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daclark wrote:

It sure as hell wasn't "Union Organizer."
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HeyBub wrote: It sure as hell wasn't "Union Organizer."
Well, that presents a rather interesting story as well. Being the son-in-law of a company man, my Father was a company man too, and was central to union negotiations in 1952. Shortly after the deal was signed and delivered, the company ordered my Father to subvert the contract he had just delivered in some way or another that has never been made perfectly clear to me; he refused and the result was my Father was summarily fired from the company. The next day, the local union walked out, and three days later the entire nation, all seventeen plants were on the street in wildcat strike. The company held out for three weeks before relenting and giving my Father his job back. But from that day forward, he was no longer a company man. His clock number was 396, and he spent thirty years building tires on the line. It is not a pleasant job, and since the demise of the union, it is even less so. Every year, when I was a kid, a delegation from the national union would show up at our door, asking if he would stand for national election, but he always refused. And, if your father had as much character as mine...
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