September 24, 2009

Open Road


I have always had a fascination with offices. Ever since I was really small I can remember being in one kind of office or another. The way they work or don’t work is fascinating and it all boils down to systems. Add in the humans and you have Eco-systems.

I remember the office of Highway Motors, a used car lot my grandfather owned on Route 13 in Dover, Delaware. I was all of 4 but at 43 I’m still very familiar with the battleship grey of the desks in the converted trailer home where Bernard, my dad and grandfather sold quality, pre owned cars. My mom worked in that office too, handling paperwork and making typing better than television for watching. 

It is interesting how we grow up watching our relatives work with their hands. My father was a truck driver when he finished selling cars. He slung crates of milk on delivery in Salisbury, Maryland. He always wore gloves and could keep the gray water from the floor of the truck, off his clothes. He had probably had some experience slinging things on his father’s farm as a kid. (Before they sold the farm and took up selling cars.)

Out the back door of the office-trailer was the shop where a mechanic named “Little Man” worked in coveralls. Little man was Popeye-esque in that he was grizzled in appearance at a fairly young age. All I ever heard anyone call him was Little Man. I don’t think I ever saw him mad. I just remember a smiley, greasy face and maybe even a wink. He was really at home in his own skin as they say. About ten years ago I heard little man had died. 

There is a lot to remember and I want to say light bulbs, not flags, lined it. And there were loads of automobiles on blue and white gravel. I guess I would have washed the cars on that lot had the business stayed in the family. Instead, It was sold to a man named Slaughter and I took on the job of cleaning up, next day, at the drive in. Boy is that another story.

I thought about calling our business today “Highway Home Services”. 

Highways have Junctions...

It is a stetch...

Hit the road Jack.



Beth said...

Barry, you started me thinking about my own childhood experiences watching my relatives work with their hands. Both of my parents were (are) teachers, so you'd think they wouldn't have had much opportunity. But my dad could swing a hammer like nobody's business, and he was always adding on to the house. By the time I left home, it was far larger than it was when my parents bought it 15 years earlier.

Up until I was 11, my mother was what you'd call these days a "stay-at-home" mom. But back then, she was simply the caretaker of all things homey. She cooked, she cleaned, she sewed, and I once watched her re-upholster a chair. She could, and still can, do it all. I'll never forget watching her steady hands dismantle the vacuum cleaner because it had sucked up one of my Barbie doll's shoes.

Thank you for sharing your stories, and for sending me back into fond memories of my own. :)

Barry said...

Hey Beth,

Great stories. I have noticed that Labrador Retrievers are fascinated by peoples hands. They will watch anything you are doing. I guess we as kids were the same way.


Beth said...

You learn by watching, right? ;) There's probably some specific theory of evolution that backs that up, but I'm too tired this late on a Friday afternoon to come up with it.