Posts Tagged vivid reminder
Johnstown, NY is one of two cities that made up the “Glove Cities Capital of the World.” Johnstown and Gloversville held that title for a long time, which I suspect now belongs to China. There are still some leather mills in Fulton County serving as a vivid reminder of what used to be. One of those mills, B&M Leather, is run by my father and co-owned with my mother.
As soon as I could hold a broom, I was sweeping floors. I used to form big piles of fluffy dust left from the shaver and buffer machines to jump in like a pile of leaves. In addition to sweeping, I was tasked with cleaning the office and bathroom. As I grew older, my responsibilities increased and I was allowed to work on certain machines, band pallets, stack tables and empty barrels into the dumpster.
Mill work is hard work. It requires you stand for 8+ hours a day, which is rather monotonous. For the most part, you stand at a machine either sending or receiving skins to be put on a table and eventually back on a pallet. If you are not a morning person, it’s not the job for you. My Dad is often at the mill by 4am. On busy days, 5am-5pm is the norm. In the summers it gets very hot, and there is no air conditioning. The skins get heavier as the day goes on.
My summers were spent at B&M. It was cool working with my Dad during those summers. He didn’t take it easy on me, nor did I expect him to. As the lowest guy on the totem poll, I was stuck doing some of the real dirty work.
In high school, I was repeatedly told by co-workers, truck drivers and other visitors how important it was to “go to college, get an education and get out of this place.” As any parent who wants better for their child my Dad echoed this sentiment. No one got an argument from me. I couldn’t wait to go to college, move to New York City and sit in a comfy computer chair in my eventual corner office.
Fast forward 10 years. I have my desk, although not in a corner office – I care less about that now. I have a wonderful view of Times Square to my right (which is as close as I’ll get to that dreadful place), and the mighty Hudson River to my left. For the most part, I’m right where I hoped to be. Living and working in Manhattan working for one of the largest media companies in the world.
Yet, with every year passing year I find myself thinking more and more about those days in the mill. In fact, whenever I visit my folks for an extended time I usually ask my Dad: “Need any help at the mill?” Ironically, when he says no I have the exact opposite reaction I used to have when I was 18 or 19 – disappointment.
So what gives? Check out Thursday’s post to find out.
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