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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Football, Paper Punches, Metal Shavings, and Love

Because today is Superbowl Sunday, so many memories pop up for me.

I recall watching so many football games on our big console TV when I was a child. Even if we weren't watching, the sound of football would fill the house. In the fall of 1979, my dad wrenched his ankle playing, yes, football, badly enough to where he had to hobble around in a cast for a few weeks. Because he couldn't do much else, mother and I put him to work helping paint little ceramic banks that we sold. You see, it was 1979, the year the Oilers were going to "kick that door in" and win the Superbowl. It sure looked like they would for a while, anyway. Mother's ceramic business was taking off nicely, and in particular demand were football player figurines that we carved a slot in the top of and a hole at the bottom. We painted them in Oilers colors (it took a while to find the perfect Columbia Blue), and plugged the hole with a rubber stopper upon completion, thereby making them the perfect bank. Let me tell you, they were selling like hotcakes. It was all mother and I could do just to keep up. So what a perfect opportunity to put dad to work! He was a good painter as well, and the three of us kept busy churning out mini-Oilers. It was a wonderful time, the optimism and family time spent together blending into fun days and happy evenings.

Thinking about that old house in Houston, I also recall nearly every day sweeping the wood floors, and all the little dots of paper laying around. Dad was a machinist by trade, but also learned to program computers at work, the computers that directed the oil tool machines. It was a developing technology, and these computers bore little resemblance to the ones we know now. These took up entire rooms, were programmed by binary systems, Fortran and Cobol. They were powered by vacuum tubes and required somebody who "spoke their language" to program them correctly. Hence, the long paper sheets used to punch out code. So many of those tiny punches made from paper found their way into dad's shirt pocket, his shoes, his hair even. And he would carry them home with him every evening. There they would dust the floor like tiny snowflakes, and were so tiny and light the smallest draft would blow them around. I would bet that even after we vacated that house, there were still tiny bits of paper floating around.

And then there were the metal shavings. When dad would operate the drill presses and other large machinery that cranked out drill bits for the field, there would be many metal shavings thrown off the machine that landed on the shop floor. Of course, he and the other men that worked in the shop would inevitably get these tiny shavings embedded in their steel-toed shoes. About once a week, dad would take his shoes and dig out the metal shavings with his pocket knife. Mom and I would sweep them up and throw them in the trash. You really did not want to step on these sharp little things with your bare feet! I can so clearly see dad sitting there, digging in his shoe soles with his pocket knife.

And painting those Oilers banks.

And lugging home those wonderful little paper punches.

And now he is home, with me, getting ready to watch Superbowl XLV. There are no Oilers banks to paint, no metal shavings or paper dots for me to sweep up. But the love and the admiration remains. I still think he is the smartest man I have ever known, and I am the luckiest daughter in the world.


Edith Ann said...

I enjoyed this. Sweet memories.

Sugar Magnolia said...

Indeed, Edith Ann.

Now even sweeter. Dad owes me a shrimp dinner at the Big Fisherman in Rockport. He buys because I predicted a Green Bay win.

Great game! As for the yelping of the national anthem....PITIFUL.

And the halftime "show"....EPIC FAIL!!!!!

Edith Ann said...

Well, Congrats! on the Shrimp Dinner!

I didn't watch. Any of it.

Truth Ferret said...

Enjoyed your memories.

the computer cards reminded me when I was in college and the computer "geeks" would walk around with the boxes of their programing cards. Being the heartless creature that I was, I laughed when a hapless young student would drop his box and have to start all over again. fun times.

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