by Joe DiPietro
Christmas, 1956. I was a little fella, and my seeing the Tonka Hi-Way series display in the W.T. Grant store months earlier had captured my entire attention.
In my letter to Santa, I asked for the Tonka set. What I didn’t know was that my folks had already put the set in layaway at Grant.
After I’d settled down some with my bright orange Tonkas, I noticed a little box made of red oak with brass hinges and a snap closure on the front.
The aroma of dad’s shop and red oak filled my nose as I opened the box. And inside that box, three tools for dad’s little apprentice – a level, a plumb bob, and a square. Just like dad’s, except sized for my little hands.
I remember just holding them, as if they were precious metals or jewels, so much so I was hesitant to touch them. Dad explained each tool and what each meant and how they were used.
April, 1973. My dad died. He was only 55 years old. A master shipbuilder for the U.S. Navy and a master furniture maker no longer graced this world.
I was a junior in college at the time, and my journey was carrying me to a career in health care; what some might think is far from working wood.
When I arrived home on April 5, after spending time with my mom, I went to “our” shop. I turned on the light – dad had been in there late on April 4, fixing something for mom, and I thought maybe, just maybe, something of dad remained.
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From the October 2015 issue