Getting Started & Finding My Way
(Part 18)

This is part 18 in a series of essays about when I was a young man (30+ years ago) trying to figure out how to “make it” in the world. Click HERE to go back to the beginning of the series.


In September of 1978 I went to Alfred State University in Alfred, New York for the Building Trades program. The school was a few hours from my home. On weekends in the fall I drove home to clean chimneys.

The building trades program was worthwhile. It introduced me to the fundamentals of carpentry and residential construction by way of classroom discussion and actual work experience. Our class built a ranch house in a nearby subdivision.

It was a two-year program but I decided one year was enough. My finances were getting low and I wanted to get to work. So, once again, I went to school but never got a diploma. It didn’t matter. I didn’t go to get a diploma. I went to learn useful skills.

When school was out in the spring of 1979 I returned home and attempted to drum up more chimney cleaning business. I started to do more than just clean chimneys. I also repaired chimneys and repointed crumbling brickwork—things I had learned about in school. I looked around for a job in construction but not too seriously. I was really trying to make my chimney cleaning business succeed. But I came to realize the business was seasonal. Some people would have their chimney cleaned in the summer but most people waited until fall. I was busy in the fall.

In the winter of 1979-80 I went back to work on the Badman family’s dairy farm where I had worked for the winter of 1977-78. Then, in the early spring of 1980, knowing that I really wanted to get into carpentry work, the Badmans told me I should go ask their neighbor, Clarence Edmonds, for a job.

To be continued.....
Click HERE to go to Part 19 of this series.

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