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”.