Saturday, June 02, 2007

I Can't Do What My Father Did

Another meme going around: "I can't do one-quarter of the things my father can."

Fathers born in the 1940s or 50s--and please bear in mind that this will not apply to all of them--seem to demonstrate with much greater frequency the ability to 'Take Care of Things'.

Being in possession of this blanket set of skills crucial for the operational fluency of daily life, they become indispensable to the family unit, developing auras of respect and--notably--competence.

They include, but are not limited to:

* Plunger Operation
* Woodworking
* Toy Repair
* A knowledge of adhesives

Dad had me beat in one area: horsemanship. He could throw a double-diamond hitch on a pack horse in a snowstorm. I never learned any of that.

I think I am his equal in the other stuff. Cars are more complicated now, so it's mainly a matter of changing your own oil, checking tire pressure, and being aware of things changing for the worse.

But wait. They're talking about the guys my son's age -- if I had a son. Hmmm..

Popular Mechanics, as ever, stands ready to fill the gap.

UPDATE: I left out the Wiccan connection.

Much of what I learned about woodworking in particular I learned in 7th and 8th-grade shop classes. And who was behind the push for such "manual" education in the schools? None other than Charles Godfrey Leland, whose three books on Tuscan folklore, witchcraft, and the goddess Aradia helped fuel the 20th-century Wiccan revival.

In Leland's day, it was a rare kid who stayed in school after age 14. He believed that "manual arts" should be part of the curriculum, and he advocated for them a lot.

Via Glenn Reynolds. Men just want to be useful.

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