Dad¶s Apprentice Two²1952 to 1957 As background to help you understand this phase I need to give some background on Dad¶s

experiences from childhood to adulthood to put things into context. Dad was the youngest of four children of William Wallace and Adelia Richardson. As you might suspect with the name ³William Wallace´ Richardson he was of Scottish extraction with his grandfather Robert ³Robbie´ Richardson emigrating from Scotland with his brothers. Dad was born and raised on a farm in Campbell Township in Ionia County Michigan. He had two older sisters; Etha and Doris and an older brother Howard. His closest cousins growing up were from his Mom¶s side of the family, the Brecheisens. His Mother had two brother¶s Millard and Carl. In the picture below are Dad¶s family before he came along, left to right; Adelia (Mom), Howard (brother), Etha (sister), Doris (sister), William (Dad). Dad was born in 1921 so most farming was done with work horses for plowing, cultivating, harvesting, putting up hay for the livestock. As most of us he had happy memories and sad ones of those days. One story I liked to hear was of the dog they had when he was a kid. It was an Airedale, named Barney Google or Barney for short. Airedales were popular on the farms because they were protective of kids and the families and large enough to do the job. One of Dad¶s favorite things was to tie a rope to Barney¶s collar and the other end to his wagon. He would take Barney out to the top of the barn ramp and then his Ma would take extra pancakes left over from breakfast to the front door and hold them up and call Barney. He would run to the house with Dad riding in the wagon. She would toss one to him and he would catch it in his mouth downing it in one gulp. Dad would repeat this cycle until the pancakes were gone. A simple pleasure but one he remembered fondly. A sport common at family reunions, community gatherings, and the Clarksville Ox Roast held annually was horseshoes. He never said much about it but liked to play even when I was growing up. I remember one family gathering that included my

family, cousins and my first wife¶s family including one of her uncles who was a bit of a blowhard. His name was Earl and he was bragging about his horseshoes prowess. Dad said he had played a little and took him to the horseshoe setup he had put in for the picnic. This was fun to watch because Earl lost every game, one after another until he finally shook his head and walked away muttering. Dad was always a good fighter apparently although I never saw any evidence of it personally. But as the youngest sibling and apparently with lots of bullies in the neighborhood he early on learned that you have to put up with some pain if you are going to inflict any on the attacker. He told with some bitterness that his brother invited him to visit school with him when he was a year away from starting school. He was looking forward to it unaware of the real agenda. When he got there he soon realized that ³dear brother¶s´ invitation was to fight a bully who had been picking on him. Dad took on the several years older kid and bested him but learned to question further gift horses. Another experience that molded his work interests for the rest of his life was spending hours in the barn workshop during the winter when there wasn¶t as much farm work to do, watching his father¶s brother George handcraft violins. Even during the depression his violins were in great demand and he always had a waiting list longer than he could complete. Dad was fascinated by the artistry of woodworking that he observed. His whole career was spent in the Michigan furniture industry. He was an apprentice upholsterer to start. Went to work at the Grand Ledge Chair Factory and was soon promoted to foreman of the upholstery department and then to manager of the machining operation. From there he went on to manage several furniture companies mostly in turnaround situations. He would make furniture for people and family on the side and after retirement. He was a real artist and a perfectionist. Thus, during the time after the major cottage building project at Guernsey Lake and the next huge project we worked on together which will be covered in the third installment, I learned a lot about furniture and woodworking . In addition I learned about repairing a wide range of things. Dad¶s attitude was that he would tackle any problem. He would always start by saying that if he couldn¶t master the problem he could always hire someone to do it. But he never hired anyone as he was always successful. I learned a lot about troubleshooting problems from

working with him on the various things from fixing appliances like washing machines to overhauling a Volkswagen beetle engine to all sorts of standard automobile repairs. During this time Dad worked on the side with an interior decorator in the Lansing area. It was the state capital and there seemed to be a constant supply of people who wanted to upgrade their home furnishings. So Dad would reupholster all sorts of furniture associated with that. We would go to Lansing pulling an empty trailer and pick up the various pieces to be redone. He got to work on some really elegant pieces, like tufted chintz sofas with brass nailed trim. My part of the operation in addition to helping carry unwieldy items through narrow halls, up and down stairs with turns to negotiate and other obstacles was to do the tear down and redo the base work like the webbing platform that the springs sat on. So I was the destroyer and he was the one to make it into a work of art. One detail you may not know is that in those days before pneumatic staplers, the upholsterers would put a handful of sterilized tacks into their mouth and by using their tongues they could move a tack into position for the magnetic tipped tack hammer while the other tack was being driven. It was amazingly fast and efficient. I did it on a sofa reupholstering project I took on when I lived half a continent away from Dad and it wasn¶t bad at all. At first it was slow but it got to be a good rhythm as the practice took effect.

Dad and Niles McDiarmid in rowboat Dad built. Paul to left. Everything was going well as we enjoyed spending time at the Guernsey Lake cottage on summer weekends until a guy stopped at the cottage one weekend and asked Dad if he would consider selling the cottage. Well it turns out he would. They negotiated a price and that was that. Mom and Dad took the proceeds and bought a more expensive lot on Morrison Lake near Clarksville in the area where both of them were born

and raised. It was also a lot closer to home so that was a plus. But that laid the foundation for another massive project for us to work on. You might think that constructing a new cottage couldn¶t be that complicated since we had done one already. Well it wasn¶t that simple. More later. Paul Richardson 2010

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