Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Teenage years

In my days, teenagers started their summer holidays picking fruit to earn some vacation money. However, successfully picking fruit asked for supple fingers, which, apparently, I did not have. Related work was sometimes available - such as carrying fruit baskets with a cart to the factory. I liked to do that better. I also worked on an agricultural test farm, where I had to mix different types of soil, and put these in earthenware pots. 
But the real difference came about quite unexpectedly. My interest from my youngest years on, were boats, and I read a lot on boat building and maintenance. So, I knew how to paint, and do all the preparatory work, such as sandpapering, putting on filler, and primers. In theory, that is.
But reading proper manuals, usually make me do things right. Also, time was still very short of money and taking practical lessons was restricted to professional courses. Although I knew that in the US DIY was already daily practice, with materials easy at hand, this development was still absent in my case, although it soon would change. Professionals at the time were often reluctant to favor such developments, seeing them as a hazard for their living.
How she knew I do not know, but our single female neighbor thought she could have her house painted by me. She asked a professional workshop to deliver the materials, and cast an eye on my work. As far as I remember the shop owner also suggested my reward, which was quite acceptable to me, as it could buy me a canoe. 
So, the next moment I collected ladders, brushes, sandpaper, paints, stones, and instructions from the shopowner. He stressed the need for sandpapering, which was not my favorite part of the job, but I already understood the importance of it. The weather must have been favorable, as I do not remember any delay. The shopowner came sometimes by on his bicycle, telling me some professional secrets. He had no complaints regarding my work. 
The job came to an end, and became the beginning of many such jobs in the neighborhood. To my surprise, a female doctor, living at the corner of the street, praised my work. Some years before, I had involved her son in smoking a first cigaret, which of course had made her furious. As far as I know, no permanent damage was done; later I read in the newspaper about his ground breaking work in the medical field in Africa.
My 'paint-neighbor' also allowed me to put an eyebolt in her side-window pane, so I could tie a rope across our very quiet street to a tree. That enabled my friends and I to play volleyball at the end of the afternoon. After some time, however, the police arrived, telling us, that it was not allowed. Luckily, one of the players could convince his parents, that a part of their backyard was ideally suited for our game.  
During the rest of our summer vacation we were often on the beach, playing volleyball. A friend and I organized a tournament between all of the beach teams, and recently I read in the newspaper that this tournament was still alive.