Remember Shop?

By Ronin,

Yesterday as I was running around the greater Tampa Florida area, visiting friends and wasting time, I noticed it was trash day. Lots of cans, placed neatly next to curbs. One caught my eye; someone had tossed out a ladder.

Who throws away a ladder? I resisted the urge to pull over and grab the ladder for myself (my friends would have questioned my dumpster diving). This waste really bothered me, I have three ladders, I do not need another one but I see it as a sign of the times.

When I was a child we had, shop class, you could learn basic skills in schools. We had electrical, mechanical, automotive, welding, carpentry, woodworking, metalworking, drafting, general business, home economic and on it went. You could pick the elective of your choice and see if you had talents in that area or you could try several others. In our school, we made lamps, sold stock in our “company”, sold our lamps and earned a profit. Every year, that lesson was reinforced, we made, sold and earned.

I would have repaired that ladder, there are no special ladder repair skills needed, just a few bolts and maybe a scrap piece of metal. To show my disgust with that ladder tossing dirtbag, I went home and used my ladder to clean gutters and repair a roof. I like my ladder it is a favorite toy.

I watch people, they fascinate me, overhear complaints of young people, they have no money in their account, everything costs more money, they are getting less hours, horror story after horror story.
What I do not hear is, I repaired “X”, I fixed an “X”, I am building “X”, I saved. Why doesn’t America’s youth know how to fix, repair and build? Are today’s youth lazy or just beaten down by a society that discourages independence? What can you teach the youth in your life?

Young people, if I can offer one bit of advice it would be to understand what true independence means. Learn not to talk but to do; at the minimum, you should at least try. How much money can a family today save by repairing, building, growing, stock piling, canning. I cannot answer that question but you can.

Get up, off twitter and do. Make what you need and sell the rest, offer your skills to others, ever hear of the barter system? Do not be afraid of failure, when I was your age a failed project was a prototype and useful scrap for another day.

While we still live in a nation that allows you to explore, to learn and to do, take advantage of it. Learn new skills and earn while you learn. At the very least, you will know that you never, ever throw away a ladder.

Explore posts in the same categories: By Ronin, Economics, Editorial

20 Comments on “Remember Shop?”

  1. CavMom Says:

    I had to smile at this one Ronin. As a girl it was considered odd, but I took auto mechanics (because the teacher was my cross country coach) … and I took wood working because it fascinated me. To this day I do not understand why people take their vehicles in to have the oil changed or why they cannot complete simple tune ups. My next vehicle is going to be an old Chevy pickup. They are roomy under the hood and easy to work on myself. Short of changing out an engine block, I have replaced everything else under the hood of my Dad’s truck.

    I too become discouraged with today’s waste. People roll their eyes and chuckle when I take apart an iron, a blow dryer, a lawn mower and get them working again. It does not take a degree, just common sense. I have fixed ceiling fans, washing machines, and vacuum cleaners for family members on my husband’s side (they think I am a genius) I am not any smarter than the next person. I just hate waste.

    I had no idea that I grew up poor by today’s standards. We were taught to use and reuse and reuse again. Today I can afford to throw out and buy new, but cannot stomach the idea of tossing my money when the repair was a few bolts or reconnecting wire.

    My motto is, “Let me check it out first, since you are planning on throwing it out anyway. What is the worst that can happen? I break it more?”

    I need to learn soldering and welding. I have played with a oxyacetylene welding, but would not want to depend on my lack of skill.

    Just last weekend I was talking to my brother about this topic (waste) We grew up in an era of mending our clothes. We went to school with patches on the knees of our pants. Clothes were not thrown out because of a hole or because they were out grown. They were mended and handed down.

    Fruits and vegetables were grown in our own garden and canned for the following year. Bread was home made; it was my chore every Saturday to bake 10 loaves. (big family) We all took our turns weeding the 3/4 acre garden. My brothers helped out at dairy farms in exchange for modest wages and all the milk we could drink.

    People have become soft and wasteful. I know I could survive… Could my grown children? I hope I have not failed them by making their childhood more easy. Time may very soon tell.

    • Ronin Says:

      There are times that I buy something or pay for a repair that I could do myself but that is usually because a friend needs the work and is too proud to ask for a handout.

      If we as parents, nation or neighbors failed, it is because the youth of today worry more about self-indulgence than self-reliance.

  2. Chris Says:

    There is another dimension to this increasing extinction of basic mechanical skills — the replacement of weekly household chores by the mow-blow-and-go gardeners. Young people these days do not know how to start a gasoline engine, how to sharpen a lawnmower, or even how to use what used to be common household tools. As that generation grows older, they will be more dependent on mechanics, handymen, and service personnel to perform even the simplest of tasks. Observe the disabled cars along the freeway with people yelling into cell phones because they don’t know how to change a flat tire. (Oh, that’s right: some cars don’t even have spare tires anymore.)

    • Ronin Says:

      Much of that is taught to these kids. I cannot count how many times I have heard comments like “I could never work at (doesn’t matter) when at the same age, I would have worked anywhere for anything.

      Until parents understand these kids without life skills are doomed to failure, it will not change.

      One of the only benefits to our economic chaos is a lot of old money families are now penniless, it is a hard blow for them but starting over requires work. It may save their children from a lifelong party and force them to function as adults.

  3. Chris Says:

    One more thought: In 1959, I met Mitt Romney’s brother Scott as a Freshman at Stanford University. His dad was CEO of American Motors and later Governor of Michigan. Before Stanford, Scott had obtained a welder’s certificate because his family wanted him to have practical skills in addition to academic knowledge. No one is too rich or too smart to have a few practical skills in his or her repertoire, too.

  4. islams not for me Says:

    Its a pity that my own local high schools dont teach much about carpentry, autoshop, welding and more to teenagers.

    I’d rather teach construction jobs to teeangers and office computer jobs to todays youth to give them a heads up on thier future employment than have them re-enact the latest ‘jackass’ stunt.

    Better to build a nation of workers than wasters…

  5. Big Frank Says:

    I went to a Vocational +Technical HS Most of the graduates have done well, I agree few folks want to learn a trade today. Because it takes time, hard work, and sacrifice. I learned work skills from my dad, and passed them down to my children of whom I am very proud. They have Renovated their homes to twice their size and saved at least $125,000 or more in the process. It is rare any of us call a skilled tradesman, everyone in the family has vast technical knowledge. When the work is done it is always up to code and passes inspection. We call it using someone in the loop. We are not afraid to assist others and get plenty of help in return, which is lacking in some families and social groups.

  6. Ciccio Says:

    Many years ago one garbage day I passed a pile of furniture, had a closer look and under that gruesome paint was an beautiful antique.
    That was in the days when I was still very respectable in suit and tie, I dared not be seen in broad daylight “dumpster diving”, went home, changed, waited for dark only to find some s.o.b. had taken the drawers.

    I have never in my life thrown out a piece of furniture. the only new furniture I bought is kitchen chairs and table, everything else was old and decrepit until I fixed and refinished it when it was suddenly a beautiful antique. Unlike the modern furniture those pieces were made to last. The table top gets ruined, you sand it down and repolish. Try do that with a new piece you land up with sawdust and nothing else, the real wood is about 1/40th of an inch.

    The curious thing about all this dumping, it is mainly in the poorest parts of town. Near where I live is a subsidized housing development, it always has the biggest piles of furniture.

    A friend of mine had two drugstores, one in a very posh part of town, the other in a dump. he told me he could not sell generic in the dumps, it had to be Tide or Pert or Huggies and Pampers, the generic only sold to the wealthy. That not only says more about or society today than anything else, it also explains the increasing divide between rich and poor.

  7. teach5 Says:

    Shop? Are you kidding? The lawyers & insurance companies shut down my school district’s shop & auto classes mannnny years ago. What replaced them? Classes in diversity, some idiotic drek called’ Life Skills’ in which teenagers carry around plastic crying babies, and learn to make change for a dollar. Then there was ‘diversity training’–where strangers came into my classroom, and joked with my students about ethnic slurs. I was told by my principal that it would replace 2 of my Science classes per week for an entire quarter.
    These kids know how to file a lawsuit, but not change a light bulb.

  8. Bob Says:

    A friend of mine made a really cool portable reloading table out of an old 2-step wooden ladder & some 1 x12″ lumber. Since no one seems to make ladders like that anymore, I’m on the lookout for one to re-utilize.

    • Ronin Says:

      Thanks to shop, I can build my own weapons, my own targets and make them pretty enough to give away.

      • tgusa Says:

        I too took all the shop classes throughout Jr high and HS, wood, metal, auto, I even did some ag and mechanical drafting electives, just for the heck of it and I have never regretted it. Much of that stuff I already knew from experimenting with my dads tools in the garage and yard, working on my uncles farm during summers and watching my older cousins working on their cars during the 60s socal road-racer rage of that time. My parents also sent me to summer camp in the High Sierra where many of the counselors were former military, many of them, Vietnam vets, so you can imagine what I learned from them over those years, and that was alot. I got my first NRA qualification certificate through that camp in 71. That camp had it all, horsemanship, climbing, backpacking, archery and all sorts of water stuff, and more, much much more. Again, much of this stuff I already knew from real life experience like how to ride and take care of a horse, a granddad of mine lived in Kansas where I would spend part of the summer and he was a member of the cattleman’s association, etc etc. My dad was probably glad they had shop as I was taking apart his power tools just to see what made them work and those things were sometimes really hard to get back together, working, especially without the internet and such. At about 13 my dad came home to find that I had traded my Schwinn for a broken down dirt bike, a Yamaha YZ 60, and I had immediately proceed to take it apart down to the frame and clean and or paint each piece while I fixed it. My dad said, you will never get that thing back together, but the following night he came home and I was riding it out front.

        This comment goes along with your comment, here. I have been busy helping one of my kids and his spouse get set up in a recently purchased town-home. Her dad has always worked for the state, the opposite of my life. Her dad had been in there for about a week screwing stuff up, little stuff, like shower curtains whose wall mounts would not screw in and in one case his plastic parts had been completely driven through the dry wall leaving a large hole (well it was large after I had to rip it back out) that sort of stuff. My son, as they began to start in on more expensive stuff, like snaking wires through walls for his 360, or their new TV that they wanted wall mounted over the fireplace, demanded that I be called in, he told her outright, when it comes to getting something done I trust my dad way more than yours, so that’s the way its going to be from here on out. Right now they want me to build them a shelf setup to hold their puter/modem and a few other things next to the TV, I’m drawing up several plans that they can choose from. I know this is a long post but my point is you have to get your kids and friends and families involved and learning even if you have to do it all yourselves.

        I’m not bragging but I do feel good knowing he noticed. He knows how to do it himself as I have passed on everything I ever learned, to him, who has always been my helper. But he also knows how to get me to do it for him and I allow that, sometimes. I’m also just saying, as per your linked comment that these statists are the people who think they can run our lives after they disarm us, oh yeah, sure. If they force us, we can use the weapons we build, that’s if they can get through our gauntlet of booby traps, first. These muslims are killing some of our guys in the stan with booby traps but really, imo, they are third raters when it comes to that. These statists really have no idea what we can and cannot do, no idea. And that’s why I like to quote GWB, BIO, you want a piece of us, bring it on, statist boy.

        • tgusa Says:

          Even though I quote GWB I am not a fan. I consider the two Bush’s to be right up there with Bill and Hillary in the perversion of America and the undermining of Americans, their jobs and livelihoods.. Every single gain we made with Reagan was undone under Bush 1, Clinton, Bush 2. Obama, the accidental American was inevitable, it has been a slow corkscrew right into the ground since Bush 1. Biggest mistake Reagan ever made was making Bush 1 his VP. Hindsight is 20-20 though, I used to think Nixon was not that bad, now I am repulsed by him, and don’t get me started on LBJ, Kennedy, or Truman and FDR.

        • Gonzo Says:

          I believe what you describe is called “work ethic”. I believe certain liberals also believe it to be a form of mental disorder.
          I am not one of them.

          • tgusa Says:

            Here here! And I do believe that there are amny more of us than there are of them. A twist on what you wrote, they have no ethics and do even less good works.

          • tgusa Says:

            And we should deport these communists to Russia or China. What are the odds that their communist friends won’t take them and or will put them in camps? Putin would probably make a game show out of hunting them in the back woods.

          • tgusa Says:

            One last thought Gonzo. I sincerely believe that many Americans are right at this point right now and feel as if they have been treated in much the same way. And why wouldn’t they?

  9. Allie Says:

    Umm, are you really just giving this info out for noitnhg?

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