As I was growing up, there are only a few rare occasions I remember having a repairman visit our house. Bill’s Heating was called if the oil burner needed more than an oil filter, nozzle or igniter changed. When natural gas came down the road, I remember Bill installed the new gas furnace and later air condition-ing. After that, it was infrequent that Bill’s red Chevy van was in our driveway.
Dave Kaiser’s Radio and TV paid a visit if three hits on the side didn’t fix the TV picture, most times it went back to the shop. Then after a few days of no television, he returned with it good as new. I remember the last time the old metal cube Zenith black and white left with Dave. A few days later he returned with a brand-new Zenith color TV that looked like a piece of furniture. To this day I’m not sure how he worked that magic.
A phone call was made to Sears Repair Service for the automatic washing machine only after it had either managed to dance to the length of its water hoses at least three times or just made the same sound as the coffee grinder. But only after all other known fixes were tried.
As I recall, there was never a carpenter, plumber, electrician, roofer, painter (etc.) called to the house. Instead, Dad would dig through extra parts stored in the old beer cases or well-worn wooden crates. Only if the almost-right-parts could not be found did we head off to Stambaugh-Thompsons Hardware store.
When Dad was building or repairing, my two brothers and I were never sent away. We handed tools, learning quickly the difference between a pipe wrench and Channellocks, a 1/2” from a 9/16” wrench, or a framing hammer from a finish hammer from a ball-peen. Someone asked me once why I shoveled left-handed. The only answer I have is that Dad being right-handed, all three of us boys just learned to do it from the other side.
Fixing and repairing, building and rebuilding was just part of life. If we weren’t helping to fix some-thing, we always found something to tear apart and put back together; mostly bicycles, but also lawnmow-ers, or something we probably shouldn’t be tearing apart. The first thing I bought with money from my first job was a 30-piece toolbox from Western Auto. It was what we knew. It was just the way things were! We didn’t know any different.
I was well into the beginnings of adulthood before I came to realize that there were people who couldn’t seem to fix even the simplest thing – “Heck, it’s just common sense!” It took me even a bit longer to understand that what they “knew” wasn’t the same as me. That the “way things were” for them was not the same as for me. And they “didn’t know any different!” Their understanding of life came through a differ-ent experience than mine. It’s not wrong, it is just different. I was ignorant of the way they lived and grew up, just as they were ignorant of the ways I learned.
I’ll never forget a quote from the movie Coal Miner’s Daughter, (the life of Loretta Lynn). Loretta says, “I may be ignorant, but I ain’t stupid.”
There seems to be a whole lot of divisive, even hateful talk in the air and much of it seems to be put-ting down those who are different. We all weren’t raised the same. We all come from different backgrounds, different cultures and places of growing up. We all learned different ways as we matured, and all of us “knew no different.” The one thing I do know is that our faith calls us to Love One Another, to treat others with the respect to which we wish to be treated. Our faith calls us to Compassion and to learn from one another and help one another – to learn ways to live and work together.
I admit, I’m much like Loretta, I’m ignorant of many things. But I do know that loving one another and making decisions through that lens is not stupid.
AGAPE, Pastor Bert
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