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Friday, December 30, 2016

Bill Pekarski: Day 122, Living life on my terms

Bill Pekarski:

Day 122, Living life on my terms.

Days like today would have been a childhood dream. All of those big, puffy snowflakes filling the air and accumulating on the ground; they are just the right consistency for packing into snowballs and making snowmen. The hill sides are in perfect condition for sled riding and there still isn’t any school for a few more days!

It really was the simple things that made us happy as children. As adults we tend to look out and only see that the plow hasn’t touched our road yet, or we think that there is so much snow that it won’t melt until mid-June. It can be hard for adults to recognize the beauty and majesty of a winter snow.

For me, I enjoy looking outside at the snow, even though I am kind of stuck inside for the most part. It can be relaxing to just watch the flakes flit around as they fall to the ground.

In my younger years, down on Elk Street with the other tannery kids, we would be outside all day enjoying this stuff. We would all take our shovels and walk down the road to see who needed help with their sidewalks and driveways. Then, if we got a little money in our pocket, we continued walking to Erway’s where we could get a good cup of hot chocolate and a giant chocolate chip cookie.

On the days when there was a significant snowfall, we couldn’t wait for the plow to come down the road and make huge piles of snow along the edge. We could go out and dig tunnels and hiding spots in the mounds.

I remember watching the snow collect on my mother’s clothes line in the back lawn, knowing that as soon as I got the chance I was going to go out and shake it all off. All I had to do was strum it like a guitar string and the snow would break free all the way to the other end.

Now in the Pekarski House, the snow was not just there for fun. My father would have me take the shovel and bank snow up against the house all the way around it. It actually kept the house warmer by insulating the underside and keeping the cold air from blowing underneath. This was important because none of the houses down there were built with solid foundations or basements. Sure some people added them later, but it was very costly and we just couldn’t afford the upgrade.

My dad also loved to work in his “shack” in the winter. On the backside of our property was an old shed. It was fairly large as shed go and it was built about the same time as the house. It even had the same asphalt type siding.

The shed itself had sunk to the front side making the floor anything but level. Inside was where my dad had his workbench and he kept all of his tools. My lawnmower was put away in the corner for the winter, ready to come back out when needed in the spring. All of our fishing poles and equipment was placed in the rafters where it would be safely out of the way.

My dad strung a heavy duty extension cord from the house to the shack so he could have electricity to run his power tools. What I loved best about the shack was how he kept it warm. He had a very old pot-belly stove that sat on the one side of the shack and he had collected enough stovepipe material to vent the smoke safely outside. Once he got a fire started, it was only a matter of minutes until you would have to take your coat off. After about an hour or so, the sides of the stove would glow red from the heat so you couldn’t sit to close. It was rustic to say the least, but it was cozy all the same.

Now my dad never made anything fancy but he loved to make wooden crates and boxes that could be used to hang plants or as decorative pieces around the house. He used to make and sell his half bushel crates to Erway’s for a little spending money.

One thing he did make me was a desk for my room. Stored away in the shack was an antique little wooden stand with two drawers and a door that opened to a larger compartment. He attached a nice sheet of plywood to the top and then shellacked it until it had a smooth surface. I still have that desk this very day.

It was sometime after my father passed away when I started working at Erway’s in the produce department. One day Dana had me cleaning stuff out of a storage area and I happened upon a few of my father’s crates and plant holders. Once I dusted them off, they looked pretty good so Dana had me put them out for sale. They were sold within a week. It kind of broke my heart to sell them since I knew exactly where they came from.

At least I still have the memories, and they are more precious to me than anything else. Just another reason why writing these stories down is so important to me, I have the opportunity to not only share my memory but to also preserve it for years to come.

Today I am dedicating my progress to my father as well as all of the kids who grew up in the tannery. I wouldn’t trade my childhood for anything.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Amen Bill, so happy for your wonderful, fun, loving, childhood you had, I wasn't fortunate to have a dad in my life. I pray you have a
Happy, safe, blessed, healthy & a properous New Yr !God bless