This year, we have been sharing our Labor of Love stories with you. Some have been about products and some have been about personal experiences, but they’ve all reflected on our appreciation for the handmade, the hard-won, and the heartfelt. For Father’s Day, we’re honoring the people who often work the hardest for the least amount of praise — dads.
I was the baby in a family of eight, back in the era of huge Irish Catholic families and the rhythm method. In the early years my Dad had to work hard to put food on the table. Around 1950 he was self-employed as a photographer, hauling a real pony around in the back of his station wagon in order to take pictures of little kids on the pony. A few year later he upgraded to “Tin Man,” selling aluminum siding and roofing door to door. Eventually the company he founded became a highly successful and well-regarded remodeling company, building designer kitchens and such, and still thrives today.
Dad would typically work about 70 hour weeks. His office was in the basement of our house, so despite the hours he worked, my Dad was far from absent. He did not hunt, fish, golf, or any of the other things men do to blow off steam and get a break from the family. Instead, our parents took us snow skiing, water skiing, sailing, crabbing, camping, etc. Everyone got to go.
My Dad would often haul me around as he went to appointments and checked jobs, mostly just to get me out of my Mom’s hair. So from a tender age I received a first-hand education to the world of small business. He shared all his little wisdoms with me, mostly standards like “The Customer is Always Right.” I learned by example that you could do right and do well at the same time.
I was well into adulthood before I realized how much I had been given, and how rare his selflessness was.