Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Just for a little while... by Debby Myers

Debby Myers joins us this week with an interesting look at a timely topic. 

A Baby Boomer is a person born in the years following World War II, when there was a temporary marked increase in the birth rate. They have a strong work ethic and aren’t afraid to put in a hard day of work. They are independent, competitive and goal driven. Baby boomers are said to be the most disciplined generation of the last century. This best defines me. I am a Baby Boomer. The group of us born between 1946-1964. Well, I guess I’m a baby boomer, sort of. Born in 1963, I am right on the cusp of also being in Generation X.

Generation X is the demographic following the Baby Boomers with birth years ranging from 1964-mid 80’s. This is my oldest daughter’s generation and she, like me, was born on the cusp in 1983. This generation is skeptical of authority and tends to disrespect hierarchy, status or title. Generation Xers prefer an informal, fun workplace where they can be self-managing. Finally, they are defined as often cynical, pragmatic "unfocused twenty-somethings," the Friends generation: rather self-involved and perhaps aimless...but fun. This best defines her.

So, why am I defining these two generations? Because of me and my daughter. Because I find myself in the same position as many Baby Boomers. My Gen Xer has come back and is now living at home again with me and my husband. It’s not only her, but also my two granddaughters. I’m sure many of you reading this can relate. My daughter first left home the day she turned 18 and hadn’t even graduated yet. She moved in with her older boyfriend, who would later be her husband. My daughter turned 36 this month, and she will tell you herself that her life is nowhere near what she’d like it to be.  She is a true Gen Xer―I’ll remind you…skeptical of authority, cynical, unfocused and self-involved.

Don’t get me wrong – I love my daughter. She is my first born and I want nothing more than to help her and I have been most of her life. I want her to have all the things she needs to succeed. I have been in her situation. When her father and I divorced, I had two young daughters that I had to care for. I was living out of state and I also had to move back in with my parents. But for me, it was very temporary. I stayed three months, got a full-time job at a fast food place, and got a government subsidized apartment and a junky old car to get me by. For me, even that was temporary. I moved up at work, rented a house, bought a new car and was able to afford to put her, my oldest daughter, in a great preschool. A true Baby Boomer―I’ll remind you…strong work ethic, independent, disciplined.

My daughter asked to come home for three months and has now been here for two years. She still doesn't have a home or a car or a clear path. I keep asking myself WHY? When I ask her, she tells me she’s doing her best and she has bad luck. Oddly enough, when she says it, I think that’s honestly what she believes and maybe I do, too. I become sympathetic―I begin blaming myself and feel like I failed her. Gen Xers were the first generation of latch key kids. I had to work most of her life.

All of this leads to the question―are my daughter and I victims of a generation gap? The gap is defined as a broad difference in values and attitudes from one generation to another, especially between parents and children. I would say the answer is a definite YES. But is it my fault or is it hers? Maybe it’s no one’s fault. It’s the gap.

My other two children are in Generation Y―the millennials born from the mid-80s to mid-90s. They are defined as a generation constantly plugged into technology, having been born into a world of smart phones, laptops, tablets, and gadgets. These are an essential aspect of their lives. They prefer to communicate via email, text, social networks. Gen Y likes flexible work schedules with family life taking priority over work, but they are not lazy. They grew up with overworked parents and strive to focus on their children. Teamwork is high on their agenda. Gen Y wants feedback, gratitude and recognition. And they give it in return. I don’t seem to have any problems with my Gen Y children. Sure, they both have had their problems too, but they both now have great lives: jobs, families, homes, cars.

So, in discovering all of this, how do I bridge that gap between a Baby Boomer and a Gen Xer? With the differences in lifestyles, habits, likes and dislikes, work ethic, it seems tough. And it’s no secret this gap widens by leaps and bounds as the parent grows older. This lack of understanding of social, moral, political, musical, sartorial or religious opinions leads to a lack of acceptance, which is the primary reason parents and children have conflict. Experts say that as the parents, we should be the ones to communicate, be open minded, learn to accept, listen, and understand. And remember sometimes silence is golden.  We have to let our children voice their opinions and listen to what they are saying without interrupting them. Let’s practice what we have always preached. We need to try to understand how they see the world, because chances are, they will never understand the world we came from and they don’t really want to.

So, for all of you parents out there who say things like “I just don’t understand my children,” “They won’t listen to me,” “When I was your age…,” or even “Why can’t we just get along?” these are a few reasons to think about. In my own pondering, I’ve decided to enjoy my daughter and granddaughters while they are here and be hopeful their lives will take a turn. Make sure they know that we love them. Let them learn from us while we learn from them. After all, the granddaughters are Generation Z. I wasn’t sure I wanted to even look this up! But what I found is they are said to be loyal, compassionate, open minded. They are also multi-taskers. They aren’t as apt to look ahead to college and are more interested in going right into the workforce.

All I can say is the famous quote…time moves on.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

That Damn Hot Rod, Chapter 2, Part 2 by Brad Ferguson

Chapter Two, Part Two
Everything was going along great, what with work, weekend fun, parents, and friends. But then one Tuesday I went to work as usual but when I got there Howard was quiet. The crew and the office personnel came in sobbing, and most with blank faces. I asked what was going on and Johnny told me that old man Zimmermann passed away early that morning. I was shocked. I had just saw him two days before. I needed a little time to compose myself. I went out to the shop and just stood there staring blankly at the ceiling. No words.
   The funeral was a few days afterwards and I was asked to be a pallbearer. There was a steady stream of people that came to the wake, the funeral, and the cemetery. It was sad. After the crowd at the cemetery had thinned considerably, Mrs. Zimmermann came to me. We stood there looking at each other, speechless. We shared a hug, and she whispered for me to telephone her next week. I told her I would.
    As the second week afterward passed, the Zimmermann Ford crew went quietly about the everyday business with the cloud of grief ever so slowly lifting. The sound of Underwood Typewriters pecking away and the ring of the telephones seemed to never stop.
    I decided I would give Mrs. Zimmermann a call as she had asked. She asked if Chickie and I could come to the house the next day around 6:00 pm. I said, "Of course.” I got off work the next day, went home, and grabbed Chickie, and we drove the '32 over to the Zimmermanns', me still in my work clothes. We walked up to the front porch and I turned and looked at the yard, the bushes, and the flowers. All were the same but somehow different. When we reached the front door, it opened, and Mrs. Zimmermann asked us to come in. We went to the parlor, passing by the portrait Chickie had painted of the two of them. There was a well-dressed middleaged man waiting in the parlor. Mrs. Zimmermann introduced him to us. He was her lawyer and we nervously chit chatted for a while. Then Mrs. Zimmermann got up and said, "Well, I have something for you.”
   She left the room and then returned. She handed me some papers and then handed me a set of keys. It was the keys to Mr. Zimmermann's '34 Vicky. I said, "Oh no..." She stopped me and said that her husband had placed in his will that I would be the new owner of the car. The lawyer stood up with the will in his hand and showed us that very entry where he had willed us the '34. I was dumbfounded.

   When I came to my senses, I said abruptly, " But Mrs. Zimmermann, If I took the car you wouldn't have any car to drive and get around in.”  She let out a soft short chuckle and then told me, " My dear boy, I have no need for the car―you see, I don't know how to drive and I don't have a driver's license!"
    Again, I was stunned. The wife of a man who had a very successful automobile dealership not knowing how to drive was just…well…baffling!
    We said our goodbyes and Chickie jumped in the '32 and headed for home. I, still in a daze, went to the garage to get the '34 Vicky. It started right up. I got it out of the garage, closed the garage doors, and headed down the driveway to the street. I couldn't see her, but I felt Mrs. Zimmermann watching as I drove away.
   I got home and drove it into the garage, turned the key off, and just sat there for a moment. I then started looking at the papers. All the service records were there. The title was there, signed, Peter Zimmermann.
"Peter.” I reflected back to when I had first met Mr. Zimmermann, when we took care of his landscaping, and to when he had said to me, "Pete, eh? Good name." Now I understood what he meant. I then opened a sheet of paper that was in Mr. Zimmermann's handwriting. It read, "Pete, take good care of my baby," signed Peter. I lowered my head to rest it on the steering wheel and cried my eyes out.
     A day or two later I began to feel like I didn't really deserve having that beautiful 1934 Victoria. There were other people just as much if not more deserving of it―like Mr. Zimmermann's son, Bob―or maybe Howard. I was lying in bed one Friday night and the plan came to me. Saturday, I woke up and started detailing the '34 Vicky. It took all day and part of Sunday, but it looked like a brand new car when I got through with it. I had called and told Howard of my plan and he met me at the Ford dealership Sunday evening.
     Monday morning arrived and Zimmermann employees were all delighted to see Mr. Zimmermann's '34 Vicky sitting on the showroom floor for all to see and appreciate. Bob Zimmermann rushed over to me and threw his arms around me and thanked me over and over. He loved it being there. Now he, his employees, and all the customers can enjoy it. And me, a guy who just drove an old damn hot rod, well, the '34 sitting on the showroom floor―that made me a happy man.

Monday, March 4, 2019

That Damn Hot Rod, Chapter 2, Part 1 by Brad Ferguson

Brad Ferguson is back, along with the '32 and Pete and Chickie. I hope you enjoy this episode. Part Two will be here next Tuesday.

Chapter 2:  Beginning of an era and the end of another one.
as from the eyes of Pete...
That night I lay in bed with thoughts running wild and with a little anxiety. I sure hope I can cut the mustard. About two minutes later… well, that's what it seemed like, the alarm clock went off. I jumped up and turned it off and rewound it. I got myself ready with the morning duties and walked into the kitchen where Mom had breakfast waiting for me. "Mom, you didn't have to do this.”
She said she wanted her boy to start his first day on a full stomach. The bacon and eggs and pancakes hit the spot only like a mother's cooking can do. Ahhhh, the best mother in the world!
Dad came into the kitchen as I finished and was heading out and he says, "Have fun.”
"OK, Dad.” That seemed kinda odd, telling me to have fun when I was heading to my first day at my first real job, but it put a smile on my face—maybe that was his intention.
I arrived at work a half hour early and thought I'd be the first one there.  I was wrong. Howard was already there and had the work schedules nearly all filled out. We exchanged good mornings and he said he was glad to see me come in early , to make a habit of it , and that is what he had done for nearly 50 years. 
Howard walked over to a locker, grabbed a set of new uniforms, and tossed them to me saying, "You work here; you gotta look the part." I stepped into a restroom and slipped them on, looked into a mirror and saw the outfit on me and then noticed a big smile on my mug. And I thought, "Wow.” 
   The other mechanics came in and were looking at the schedule now posted on a bulletin board. Howard walked me over and introduced me to a few of them and then told me that I would be paired up with Johnnie at Bay Three. Howard said, "Just work with Johnnie today so you can get a feel for how we do things.” Johnnie was a 40-year-old Italian-looking fella who appeared a little sleepy but was sipping on a cup of Joe—and it didn't take long for that caffeine to kick in.
Johnnie and I headed for Bay Three where he informed me that we had a Mr. Walker's F100 Pickup in for a brake Job. Johnnie explained how we would disassemble the brakes, inspect everything, acquire parts, install them, and test drive. Sounded pretty basic, so I commenced the tear-down while Johnnie watched. After I had one wheel disassembled, he said, "You know what you're doing. I'll start on the rear brakes.”

I found a bad brake hose while inspecting and brought it to the attention of Johnnie. He said that is exactly why we inspect things during a job. We acquired the new parts from the parts room and assembled everything. Johnnie looked over my work and said, "Perfect."
We bled the brakes and test-drove the pickup. Everything was working as it should and we reported that to the office. Mr. Walker was brought before us and Johnnie explained that it was my first day and what all we had done and then told me to tell Mr. Walker what I had found. I told him about faulty brake line, showed him the part, and that we had to put a new one on. Mr. Walker looked at the part, looked at me and then told Johnnie, “Your new kid is gonna work out just fine.” I thanked him and we were off to a second job.
The day went by fast, Johnnie said I did a great job, and Howard said, "See ya tomorrow," as we left for the day. And so ended my first day, and then my first week followed by my first month. My thoughts: "This is great!"
I occasionally stopped by to visit Old Man Zimmermann and his wife and he was very happy that I was working out. He said, "My son’s and my reputations are on the line every day there. I'm glad you take your job seriously because now your reputation is on the line—always remember that.” I took it to heart.
Chickie, my love, was now attending the local art academy. She had taken four years of art in high school and had several of her drawings and paintings at art shows around town. The newspaper had given her rave reviews. Her specialty was drawing or painting portraits. Personally, I would think that would be the toughest thing to draw or paint because it just has to be perfect or it wouldn't look like the subject. She had drawn several pictures of me and we kept them all in her big ole scrap book. It was definitely her passion.
One day when I was visiting with the senior Zimmermanns, I told them about Chickie and her artistic talent. Two days later, he called me at work and asked me to stop by his house and to bring Chickie. I got off work , picked up Chickie, and headed over there. Chickie and I were discussing why he wanted both of us there so suddenly. We arrived at "The Mansion,” rang the doorbell, and as we were waiting Chickie said she always wanted to see inside this beautiful house.
Mrs. Zimmermann answered the door and graciously invited us in. Mr. Zimmermann was sitting in the parlour and when we walked in, he got up, said hi to me, and looked at Chickie intently. He shook her hand and asked us to sit. He began the conversation abruptly. " Pete says you are quite the artist and if that is true we want to employ you to paint our portrait. If it is up to snuff; we will make it worth your while. If it's not; we simply won't accept it."
Mrs Zimmermann cut into the conversation as she could see that Chickie was taken aback by his blunt approach, " Now, Chickie, don't let him scare you--he's a pussycat. I'm sure you will do just fine. Are you interested in painting our portrait?"
Chickie replied in her sweet and innocent manner, " Oh, yes, I would be quite honored.”
I looked at Mr. Zimmermann and saw that a faint smile briefly escaped his face thru the sternness. He was pleased.
For the next few days, that is all Chickie could talk about. All the particulars were worked out as to when, how long, what they wanted to wear, and her task began three days later. Chickie told me that they were stately attired; she in her full length gown and he in his best tuxedo with a fancy cane.
Another three days and Chickie had finished and I was there for the unveiling. She was very anxious about if they would like it or not—I imagine as many artists are. When she had placed the gilded frame around her painting, she asked them to look.
Mr. and Mrs. Zimmermann walked over to the easel, stood back from it, and didn't say a word. A tear fell from Mrs. Zimmermann's eye and she was quick to catch it before it reached half-cheek. Mr. Zimmermann seemed to stand a little taller as he gazed at the painting. He didn't say a word, but held his wife in a loving embrace. I had to break the silence and asked, "Well, do you like it?”
They both rushed to answer, saying it was beyond their expectations. Mrs. Zimmermann gave Chickie a big hug, looked her in the eyes, and told her thank you. "We have wanted a portrait for so many years.” Mr. Zimmermann was still looking at the painting and it seemed as though he was nearly looking through all the years. He walked over to Chickie, took her hand, and softly said, "Thank you.”
Mr. Zimmermann excused himself to go to his study, but returned shortly thereafter. He handed Chickie a sealed envelope and thanked her again. We said our goodbyes and took off in the ole '32. Chickie opened the envelope, pulled a check from it, and started crying. I pulled over on the road, gave her a hug and asked what was wrong. She said, "Nothing. Look.” She handed me the check-- it was for $3000!!
I figured that with me having a full-time job and Chickie pulling in money here and there that we could afford to rent a place, our first home. And, of course, it had to have a two-car garage not to mention a studio for Chickie. We started looking through the rentals in the newspaper, looked at a few places, and then found a house for rent/contract six blocks away from Mom and Dad. We went for it—no furniture, just a bunch of hopes and dreams.
Now I wasn't the only one whose fortunes were looking good. Frank's uncle retired and sold the machine shop business to Frank. His hard work through the years had paid off. I had a couple of Frank's new business cards posted on the dealership bulletin board. As far as JD— unbelievably, he was looking into attending the University of Texas. He had really straightened himself up and it turned out that when he applied himself, he was smart as a whip. He was getting straight A's— even in Dad's history class!

End of Part 1 of Chapter 2--come back next week for part 2!