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Father’s Day

In my youth and from my background, Father’s day was never featured and really, I don’t remember any hint of it in the culture of my time. Perhaps that was a northern thing, perhaps the great divide between the haves and the have nots, the North and the South, the then Working classes and the white collar workers of the era. I could feel sorry that my father seemed more absent than around, but such was the reality of a post World War country still grappling to get rid of ration cards and veterans returned trying to reconstruct the new world. For me, I just remember my father being a provider. He was more absent because he needed to earn income to cover family expenses for a family of six children and two adults. I do know that his work ethic and willingness to do whatever it took to cover his family influenced me as a worker. 

As a youngster, raised in social housing by parents who earned very little, I took a paper round day and evening, worked Saturday mornings on a market stall and worked five evenings a week with my dad bailing cardboard to go to a paper mill. Dad and I worked Saturday afternoons and two thirds of Sundays doing the same. I always felt affectionate towards him and always welcomed his arrival at the workplace where bailing took place. We were paid by the piece and all of the income we made went to keeping the family. Such was the era.

One plane he helped me to buy by topping up my tool fund.

It was when I started working that my dad came into his own. He bought me my first pair of Tuff boots, my bib ad brace overalls and of course my food for living during the first years of my indentured apprenticeship. His name is signed on my indenture documents and by this passage I am now a craftsman. Each day at dinner we would talk about my day and I would share what I had learned. I am sure he sensed the changes in me as my new heroes became two men I worked with. Quoting this or that view I had gleaned from them were forming some of my opinions and developing my character. When I needed a new tool I couldn’t quite buy from my wages my dad made up the difference. For five years he supported me in one way or another. Today is the day of celebrating fatherhood and I am glad, even though he is gone, that I was able to reconcile all things with him before he passed. Today I recall the the time he asked me, “What do you want to be when you leave school?” ‘A woodworker.‘ I replied, without faltering. “Apply for an apprenticeship then.” he said. This I did and I served my time. When ever my attitude wasn’t right he made me face change by asking simple questions. He disallowed self pity and false expectation on my part. So it was he helped me to discover my occupation. That was 53 years ago now. There is no regret. I raised my own family working with my hands and for the main part I cannot think of a day when I didn’t feel fulfilled doing just that. By choice I entered the realms of development and became the woodworker I am. Up until his parting my dad asked me every time we met how work was going. I always said fine because fine it was. Even when there were struggles it was ‘fine‘ because if his input to face obstacles head on. What a great man the father who provides for his family.

I understand that it is not the same for everyone, especially in today’s culture, so I am cautious to consider those who miss or missed having a dad at home and cannot reflect as I have here. Thankfully, where my dad left off, other men stepped in to continue my education in becoming an artisan. Look for such men and you will find one from time to time who will help you. People ask me why I take in an apprentice from time to time. This is it.

 

17 comments

  1. natxo sainz de aja says:

    Hello Paul.
    The most important thing that I learned from my father was” think for my self”. Thit is what I try to teach my son, this… and hand woodworking.
    All the best

  2. Don Nelson says:

    My father was a carpenter and builder. I started working for him in the summers from when I was about 12 years old. He built at a time when the same people put up the concrete forms for the foundation, framed the building, put on the roof and everything else up to building the kitchen cabinets in place. I learned from them and from my father. There are two things he taught me that stand me in good stead over fifty years later. First, a carpenter never builds anything without a plan, and second, the craftsman is the one who knows how to fix his mistakes. Well, there was another one, too. Whatever we saw and wanted, he’d say, “We can build one better than that!” Thanks, Dad.

  3. Juan says:

    Mr. Sellers,

    I appreciated your posting about your father. It sounds like he was not only a good man, but a good father.

    Sadly my father passed away when I was 15 and 32 years later he, and all that it means to be a father, is still missed. I was fortunate to have older men in my life (grandfather, pastor, uncle) who were all role models for me, though in different ways. But none of them replaced my father.

    Even today, at 47, I still find myself looking to older men for guidance, wisdom and help in learning new things. In a way Mr. Sellers you are my surrogate woodworking mentor. We’ve never met, talked or even carried on an email conversation and probably never will. I am under no illusions here. I have no males here to teach me, lead me or guide me in woodworking so I am thankful you chose to start this blog, your YouTube channel and Woodworking Master Classes.

    I would encourage all the men out there who have children to spend time with them, provide for them and let them know you love them. If you are estranged from your child, even if it was your fault, be a man and resolve your issues. If you are estranged from your father, even if it was his fault, reconcile. Remember we are all human and make mistakes. Sometimes we have to humble ourselves forgive the other person, ask the other person’s forgiveness and let it go…

    The day my dad died he and I had a fight. When I came home from school, he was gone. I never had that chance to make things right with him. Life is short and the things that keep people you love away from you are stupid and futile. One day they will be gone and you will have to live with that regret for the rest of your life.

  4. Richard May says:

    I am relatively new to this level of wood working, but at 73 I have managed to properly hone and sharpen my few Sheffield chisels and even used them a bit discovering a most satisfying feeling and joy. Thank you for your encouragement and fine teaching; I remain a fan.

    Your post on Father’s Day was a welcome read and certainly rang some chimes in my memories.

  5. Tom Bittner says:

    Thanks for reminding us what our fathers did for us, as a child I took things for granted. It wasn’t until I was on my own that I appreciated what he tried to do for all of us.

  6. Tom Angle says:

    “When I needed a new tool I couldn’t quite buy from my wages my dad made up the difference. For five years he supported me in one way or another”

    I think he knew that he was lucky to to have a son that knew what he wanted to do and was willing to pay the price to do it. I told my son once that he had no idea what how much I would help him if he would do what he needed to do (school and work). Instead he did not finish school and did not want to work. Your father was a luck man to have a son that wanted to work and do things that men should do.

    • I grew up always wanting to please my dad and support his endeavour to support a largish family. I know some dads in that era who were hard to please no matter the effort. That led to a father/son breakdown and the parting of the ways with bitterness following for many. It wasn’t always plain sailing for me, but I always respected him and in the close of his life, for two good decades, we did love one another. Those odd bits in between seemed like a vapour.

  7. John says:

    Paul,

    Your post was interesting to read. My father used to put me to work almost every weekend. We’d work all day in the yard. I’m now 53 years old and that experience has given me a work ethic that allowed me to succeed.

    Now it’s my turn to pass on what I learned to my son and daughter. I hope I can do as well as my father.

    One thing I noticed about your videos, they have a fatherly connotation.

    Hope all is well,

    John

  8. John Stark says:

    Paul, I am 87. I only tell you this to set the time frame of my youth. I very much enjoyed your description of the relationship between you and your father as you grew up. What a great role model in very difficult financial times. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you, John, for taking the time to encourage me and the work that I do and then those who work with me too. We are al;l always encouraged by the support we get.

  9. Bill Morris says:

    Your father’s cap badge would indicate that he was in a parachute regiment. I’m sure he was glad to serve his country in it’s life and death fight against the tyranny and evil of Hitler’s regime. What a gift our fathers’s generation gave to us. He passed his integrity and wisdom and work ethic to you. You have passed your integrity and knowledge on to us almost with cost !! Many many thanks.

    Bill – Kerrville, TX

  10. Michael Langman says:

    I enjoy your posts very much Paul. It is nice to read about the simple things in life being of the utmost importance.

  11. pete cirone says:

    Well said Paul, We need to remember all of our ancestors
    .
    ANCESTORS

    Praise of ancestors

    6. Stalwart, solidly established,

    at peace in their own estates—

    7. All these were glorious in their time,

    illustrious in their day.

    8. Some of them left behind a name

    so that people recount their praises.

    9. Of others no memory remains,

    for when they perished, they perished,

    As if they had never lived,

    they and their children after them.

    10. Yet these also were godly;

    their virtues have not been forgotten.

    11. Their wealth remains in their families,

    their heritage with their descendants.

    12. Through God’s covenant their family endures,

    and their offspring for their sake.

    13. And for all time their progeny will endure,

    their glory will never be blotted out;

    14. Their bodies are buried in peace,

    but their name lives on and on.

    15. At gatherings their wisdom is retold,

    and the assembly proclaims their praises.

    Ben Siri Ch. 44

  12. David Lindsay Stairbuilder Australia says:

    my dad was a pastor of a church and encouraged me to become a carpenter, even though my mum wanted me to be a teacher, and now at 77 years of age and a professional stair builder I can look back with precious memories of his help.

  13. Rob says:

    My father was in the same regiment and was badly wounded in Italy. His greatest lesson to us was that every day is a bonus come rain or shine: be content (nothing as frivolous as happy!) and use the day.

    Having leaned basic carpentry at school, other than basic maintenance of a house and wooden boat, I have hardly used it since. But as retirement approaches I have begun to pick up some tools and make things again. Paul, your blog and book has been part of that process – many thanks.

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