"The Wondering Jew"
2001-08-10 - 23:54 MDT
THE WONDERING JEW
From where does a work ethic come ? In what manner is it formed ? The intricacies of a boys mind are sometimes hard to follow. Especially mine, which I am still trying to figure out me and my mind to this day.
Early on I remember clamoring to wash the dishes, receiving on the job training by my dear Mom and being turned loose to do the job. How proud I was, being grown up enough to do dishes. For, oh, maybe a week, long enough that Mom and Dad awarded me the job. From there on I drudged away reluctantly, complaining all the while. Languishing at the dishpan, bemoaning my fate. Funny thing though, when we visited at my cousins house, when the big meal out there was over, the four of us cousins would adjourn to the kitchen, and do dishes, kidding each other and having a fun time as we worked. Mom would look in and shake her head.
Once she asked me, "You balk at washing dishes at home, yet you seem to have fun at your cousin's house doing dishes, why ?" I guess that she couldn't understand my plea, "Mom, if you would wash and I dry or I wash and you dry, I would have as much fun as I do over there." In my tiny mind there were just some jobs that required a joint effort to accompish peacefully and with a degree of pleasure.
I would watch Mom take a light bulb, insert it into a holey sock and proceed to darn it. I asked why the light bulb, stating that Grandma had an oval wooden thing with a handle on it to darn socks with. The explanation I got was that the interwoven thread of the darn needed a shape similar to the foot. I remember seeing Grandma moving her, "egg," going from the pointy end to the broad middle end at different points of the process. I remember that by use of the device and the skillful interweaving of the crossing threads that a darn caused no discomfort.
The whole operation fascinated me. I guess that when my eye hand coordination was such that I could thread a needle and aim one, was when Mom taught me the ins and outs of darning socks. For some strange reason, I loved the process and I guess in my boyish mind I was making something whole again.
I inherited the job of darning my socks, which were usually a group of threads surrounding a bunch of holes and could be put on from either end. I made holes in the toes of my shoes because of my bad habit of kicking cans and stones, but somehow my socks were really holey too.
My socks were a training ground, both for choice of thread color and the placement of the threads and the interweaving of them.
How proud I was when Mom decided that I was able to do a good job on sock darning and gave me the job of doing Dad's socks too. He had the nice, colorful socks of an office worker and I enjoyed working on them.
One thing hard for me to swallow was the requirement that I choose thread color as near to the color of the socks being darned. My rough and ready mind told me that most of the time the holes were hidden in a shoe and not visible to anyone else, so why the big fuss. My mind didn't wrap around that way of thinking any better than it did about clean/dirty -- holey/non-holey underwear, I was a denizen of that era wherein the lady folks would say, "Now young man supposing you would get sick or hurt and have to go to the hospital, would you want the doctors and nurses see dirty, nasty, holey underwear ?" In later life I observed that someone sick or hurt had more attention paid to their ills or hurts by medical people than to their clothing which was often cut off to enable access to the painful area quickly.
Back to socks again, I was never allowed to try to darn Mom's hose, nor was I allowed to handle them, my hands were so rough all the time that they would have caused a disaster snagging the filmy hose, so that let me out of a job I would have liked to master.
When Mom would check my job and approve it, this happy puppy would wag his tail and grin.
Nowadays darning socks seems to have dropped out of the scheme of things, maybe it is only done in the homes of the poverty stricken and unemployed where there might be a mite of money for thread but not enough to buy new socks. Every body around seems to think that darning socks is too expensive causing them to lose money on darning and can better be used on a more more lucrative task.
However I grew up in the days of The Great Depression and sock money was few and far between.
Learning to darn socks and do an expert job at color matching and interweaving, and to stay at it until caught up was an early start in teaching me a decent work ethic and also to have pride in the work I did.
Today in my memory I can see myself carefully interweaving the threads on Dad's socks with pride and self respect.
Often I have compared jobs I later did to the operation of Darning Socks . . . . . . . .0 comments so far