Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

November 13, 2005


Father & Son Woodwork Shop Now Under Construction


      The form was constructed on November 1st. The foundation was poured the next day. Framing supplies were delivered on Thursday. Framing began Friday. The new Woodwork Shop is going up!

          A cynic no doubt will ask, “Why is the old fool building a woodwork shop at his age?” Actually that is not a dumb question. I have asked it myself. After all I am 73, so old I no longer buy green bananas. Perhaps it will prove to be a foolish venture. I don’t know, and frankly, I don’t care.

          Sometimes a man has to listen to his heart instead of bowing once again at the altar of rational thinking. My heart says do it, so I am telling reason to shut up and sit down.

          My stubbornness may be related to an incident with my dad that took place when he was the age I am now. He had finally retired from his job as manager of the Elmore County Farmers Exchange. While visiting with him one day, he asked me to ride into Montgomery with him.

          There we went into Eastdale Mall where he showed me a Shop Smith, a carpenter’s dream. It offered several woodworking tools built into a sturdy steel bench. The price tag was well over $1200.

          Dad said, “I have been thinking about buying one of these to use in my shop. What do you think?”

          I was flattered and yet stunned that Dad would ask my advice. He seldom asked my advice about anything. I mused over his question for a few minutes before answering.

          Then I said, “Dad that is a lot of money for something you may not get to use all that much. Maybe you should think about it some more.” Looking back now, I think I talked him out of buying something he really wanted. He never bought it.

          I did not think too much about that conversation for a long time. But I have lived to regret that I did not encourage Dad to embrace his dream. He was a fairly decent carpenter and he would have enjoyed using that Shop Smith for many years. He lived another 20 years, dying at 93.

          The whole scene bothers me now for several reasons. I could have encouraged Dad to buy it and enjoy using it. What is more, I could have arranged my life so that now and then I could take a day off and let him teach me a few of his woodworking skills. But that thought never occurred to me back then. I was so busy doing my own thing that there was no time in my life for my dad except for an occasional brief visit.

          I became aware of what I missed only because recently my son Tim asked me if I wanted to do some woodworking together. I quickly agreed and we have enjoyed building a stool in his shop. The stool is probably worth no more than forty dollars but Tim and I would not sell it for two hundred dollars. We are proud of that stool.

          Our next project will be putting a new top on a breakfast table my dad built about 60 years ago. Our Luverne friend Barnett King gave us some beautiful Oak wood for the top and we will cover it with several coats of polyurethane.

          Tim enjoys burning words and pictures into wood. On the bottom of the stool we made, he engraved these words, “Father & Son Woodworking, 2005.” I tried not to let him see the tears in my eyes when I read that.

          So the new shop is being built. Tim and his son Joseph are doing the framing. Steve helped me construct the foundation. That is why the shop has to be called the Father & Son Shop.

          Hopefully I can arrange a time for each of our four sons to spend a few hours in the shop making something with me. I hope Tim and I can make a few more things together. I want to enjoy the same privilege with Steve, and Mark, and Matt – if they can find the time. They are all so busy; you know, like father, like son.

          If it does not happen for some reason, then at least I will have tried.

And if it does work out as I am hoping it will, then I imagine my dad will lean over the banisters of heaven and say, “Way to go Son!” + + + +