Daddy … The Welder



Daddy dropped out of high school, and that was fine with his parents.  That wasn’t unusual in the 1920’s. 

I imagine his reasoning would have been that, after all, neither of his parents had gone to high school and they both had steady jobs.  His dad worked for the railroad, an excellent employer, although his “weakness for the bottle” used up most of the money he made there.  That made it necessary for his mom to work (fairly unusual for a married woman at that time) in a dry cleaning plant to help support their family. So when Daddy dropped out of school it just meant that he could get a job and help support their family too. 

Daddy went to work at a steel company.  He obviously didn’t start out with any kind of training, but after not too long he was given the opportunity to learn a skill … welding.  

This is the part of the story about Daddy learning to weld I always enjoyed hearing most:  When he finally completed the training and received his certification, he was given his own welding helmet.  And because he was so proud of his achievement, he carried his helmet home with him on the street car that day,  just because he wanted people to see that he was “a welder” and so that he could show it to his parents. 

This story  has always especially touched me because Daddy’s normal personality was as a “cool guy” who didn’t show he was excited about anything, so it demonstrates  just how proud he was that he had “graduated” from his training and now had a skill as a welder.  I also always found it charming that “cool guy” told this story on himself.

Daddy had very little formal education, but he learned everything he could to better himself in “the school of hard knocks” as they used to say.  He worked hard all of his life and gradually moved up the ladder from welder, to supervising welders, to other supervisory  jobs for the companies he worked for and provided a solid, middle-class life for our family. 

I am proud of the hard-working, sober (he learned that lesson the hard way, watching his dad), Christian, family-man Daddy made of himself … and that he was my dad. 

And, one of the first significant steps he took on the path to becoming that man was when he became “a welder”.

16 Responses to Daddy … The Welder

  1. Amy O says:

    What a wonderful tribute to your Dad!

  2. Sandra says:

    Thank you, Amy. 🙂

  3. Beth says:

    What a great story! These days, of course, finishing high school is a prerequisite for more job training. But I really believe that once that’s done, just getting some type of good training is the most important thing–and for lots of kids that doesn’t necessarily mean college. Sure, some dads can make the best living for their family by getting a master’s degree and becoming an engineer (as my guy did.) But there are still so many trade jobs–welding, HVAC, construction, plus many others, that can be GREAT jobs–and that training is often a lot more useful than–ahem–my college theatre degree.

  4. Beth says:

    P.S. Looks like we were commenting on each other’s blogs at the same time! You did comment very kindly on the podcast, but you did it on the new podcast blog, and I responded there.

  5. Sandra says:

    Beth — I agree that not everyone really needs college, but as a non-college grad, I can tell you that I regretted not having a degree several times during my career when I wasn’t eligible for a job I knew I would be good at, just because I didn’t have a degree. So, one of my biggest wishes for my children was they would both get degrees. I didn’t want degree-less-ness to hold them back. I’m very thankful that they both accomplished that.

  6. ElleBee says:

    I love reading stories like this. My grandma actually graduated from high school–an unusual accomplishment for “country girls” from her era and location. When her children were old enough, she started working in the local shoe factory to help pay the bills. When I was very young, she worked at Sheldon’s/Mepps, who made (and still makes) fishing lures. She stripped the squirrel tails and fastened the lures to hooks. The family joke was that mom/grandma was “a hooker and a stripper”! 🙂

  7. Sandra says:

    ElleBee — I love your story about your Grandma! Thanks for sharing the details of her “fishy” life! 🙂

  8. Beth says:

    I guess what really bothers me is that sometimes it seems college is set up as almost being the ONLY way to succeed. So kids who don’t have the skill, or motivation, or money to do well with traditional education may not realize there are choices other than college and McDonalds! I think trade schools and such are especially good for those who would have a very hard time successfully completing college but are willing to work hard at something that requires less time, money, and “book smarts.”

    Your point is a good one though–I know my first job out of college wasn’t related to my actual field of study, but I couldn’t have gotten the job without a degree.

  9. Hilary says:

    Lovely story about your Dad, Sandra. I recognize that combo of pride bubbling over the coolness as I see it in my son from time to time. Thanks for sharing this glimpe inside your Dad. He sure was a handsome man.

  10. Sandra says:

    Beth — Re. your first job, that was exactly my experience. Rather than give a promotion to experienced, non-degree-ed employees, my company would sometimes hire people with degrees, who had no experience in the trucking industry. Very frustrating. I was fortunate though, because one of the times that happened, I asked GOD for a job! One that fit my talents that DIDN’T require a degree, and He gave me exactly what I had asked for, although I could never possibly have described what that job would be. I’ve always considered that a true miracle. Hmmm. I may have to post about that. 🙂

    Hilary — It is a special treat when you see that “cool” person truly excited about something, isn’t it.

    btw, about the picture. I love sharing old b/w’s like that. The clarity is wonderful. The original of that is an 8×10 and the crisp detail in his face is amazing.

    Thank you for thinking he is handsome. Of course, I do! 🙂

  11. Sandra, what a sweet story about your dad. It sounds like you were blessed with a wonderful father 🙂 He has such kind eyes. (My sister-in-law paints wonderful wildlife portraits, and says she’s always drawn to the “kind eyes” of animals. So now I notice “kind eyes,” too.)

  12. Sandra says:

    Lynn — That is so sweet. It’s hard to look at someone you knew so well and really “see” something like that. But he was a kind man, so I guess that showed in his eyes. Thank you for seeing that in him.

  13. Loved this post. Love your love and respect for your dad.

  14. Sandra says:

    HPKT — The older I get, the more I realize how much he “pulled himself up by his boot straps”. He had all kinds of excuses he could have used to be a worthless adult, but he didn’t use any of them. A good guy.

  15. […] I did a post recently about my dad, and mentioned that my grandma worked, a blogger friend of mine, ElleBee, left a great comment […]

  16. crazymig says:

    nice story… i will bookmark this story

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