Getting Started & Finding My Way
(Part 3)

This is part 3 of 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.


When I graduated from high school in 1976, I had the summer ahead of me to work and save some money before going to The Grassroots Project in Vermont. I left my job at New Hope Mills and worked for a guy named Rick who spray-painted barns and barn roofs.

I seem to remember Rick just called me up one day and asked if I was looking for a summer job. A farmer I had worked for told the guy about me. I told him I didn’t have any transportation. He said that was no problem. He could pick me up and take me home every day. I was a little nervous about doing something I never did before and working for a complete stranger. But I was sick of packing pancake mix and saw the new job as a good opportunity.

Rick picked me up every morning in his beat-up old Chevy pick-up. It was loaded down with ladders, ropes, a big compressor, pressure pot, hoses, and 5-gallon cans of paint. We would drive to a farm and the two of us worked together to get the job done. It was physically-demanding work, way up on ladders and roofs. Once we even painted a silo roof. My boss probably had no insurance, and I’m sure that our methods of rigging and getting the job done were in violation of most every OSHA regulation on the books.

Nevertheless, I survived the summer. I discovered that two men working hard together could do an amazing amount of work in a day. I loved the feeling of satisfaction that came with getting one job done and heading off to the next one. My boss, only a few years older than I, was a down-to-earth entrepreneur. I admired his gumption, his self-confidence, and his drive.

The only thing about spray painting that I didn’t like was the red, white, and silver paint that ended up on my arms, face, and neck after a day of painting. When I got home I would wash off with gasoline in the driveway.

Between spray-painting jobs, or when the weather threatened rain, we went to a nearby state forest to cut pulp wood. My boss would cut the tall, narrow pine trees down, limb them, and section them into four-foot lengths (I’m pretty sure that was the size). I would drag the limbs away and spread them out on the forest floor (part of the rules for cutting the wood was that the branches not be left in piles).Then we worked together to load the lengths on a wagon behind his tractor, and drove them out to the road. To carry the lengths of log we used a handled hook, similar to a hay hook, in one hand. The hook was jabbed into one end of the log and we would pick up the log in the middle with our other arm. We stacked the lengths in long piles as high as we cound reach. Later, a lumber company truck would come and load the pulpwood on. Cutting pulp wood was another thing I enjoyed but I remember the black flies were brutal.

I worked with effort and enthusiasm during the summer of 1976. I gained some practical skills and a measure of self-confidence. It was a good thing.

To be continued....
Click HERE to go to part 4 of this series


Ron and Ginny said...

I am enjoying this and look foward to the next installment. :-D

Herrick Kimball said...

Thanks R&G. I'm enjoying the writing of it. Brings back old memories.

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