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Posts Tagged ‘Drywall lift’

Here’s a guest post from my brother-in-law, Alan
(originally titled, The Shop- It Was Built to Make Machines,
but It Really Formed a Family).
Alan recounts his own warm, first-hand memories
of the family shop (as previously referred to here).

I am deeply grateful to Alan for his
recollections both in word and picture.

– – – – – –

Even the Holy Scriptures designate a beginning, but I find it difficult to put a time stamp on the beginning of “the shop.” Mostly because the lineage and heritage of Young always involves a shop. This story is about the shop which was built by my Dad and the rest of our family. Our Dad, Rolly, and the four boys- Alan, Larry, Tom and Dana, were helped out by our Mom-Lois and our sister Jane. The house was built in 1973 as part of our family’s big move from Grand Forks to the land my parents bought from Mom’s father, Alvin McIntyre. Alvin and his brother, Cliff, grew up in the Old Farmhouse about 5 miles out of Grand Forks.

As children we had many trips to the farm- some in the family station wagon, some on our own bikes. As a family we spent many long hours in the summers of 1972 and 1973, clearing trees and brush from a thick wooded area north of the farmhouse that was up until then, left unfettered by time.

These woods were dominated by large oak, ash and basswood trees and thick underbrush. Beneath the underbrush one could discover the paths worn by cows from the days when Alvin ran a dairy operation and the cows were allowed to wander through the northern acres, creating paths that still form the boundaries for the current “Young Compound.” It was while wandering through these paths one Sunday afternoon that Dad and Mom were inspired to take Dad’s newly formed invention of the PanelLift® drywall lift and move from town to this new frontier.

The original portion of the shop measured 70 feet long and 42 feet wide. The concrete foundation was poured on June 8, 1973. (Interestingly enough, Eileen and I were married 12 years later on June 8, 1985). The shop building was completed in the early fall. The house was being built simultaneously by a contractor, but when it came time to move into the house it wasn’t finished, so we parked all of our boxed-up belongings in the back of the shop. My mother and my brother, Larry, spearheaded the organization of this effort, numbering every box and cataloging them in a big three-ringed binder. We also moved all of our furniture into the shop. Dad hooked up a stove, table, and other necessary items for a functioning kitchen in the front inside corner of the shop. A rug was laid down with a couch and chair for our living room. Our family bedroom was the 1948 Ford school bus which my dad had turned into a camper in 1966.

The bus was parked in the middle of the shop and it slept all 7 of us… and had a flush toilet. Pioneers from 1800 wished they had it so good!

                                                                  Alan, Dana-Tom?, Larry, Jane, Mom

The shop’s living quarters were topped off by a long rope that hung from a ceiling rafter. A large knot was tied at the bottom of the rope and this served as an inside swing that pacified the high energy of four boys and amused their sister. This North Dakota Bohemian living arrangement lasted about a month as the house was finished in time for Christmas dinner and the shop was ready to begin its 45-year career as the forge that would shape the lives of five fortunate young people. The shop was the vehicle to our futures whether we understood it or not.

The early days of a family-run business can be tricky- especially when much of the work force is still in high school and college. Dad’s new machine was slowly catching on with rental shops and contractors. It was a Providential boost to the business when a major tool distributor, Goldblatt Tools, found out about the PanelLift.

They began ordering from the fledgling home-manufacturing shop-in-the-woods. Soon a couple of full-time workers were hired to support the operation as the five kids were still in their high school and soon-to-be college years. It was the years spanning 1973-1985 that the five Young kids earned their way through college by running drill presses and punch presses, turning parts on a lathe, performing assembly tasks, and learning valuable trade-related operations including welding and painting and tasks involving mechanical design problem solving. Although only Dana and Larry stayed with the family business, all five kids learned that having a work opportunity 50 feet from their home was a good thing.

                                                                                              Jane and Dana

                                                                                                        Dana

                                                                                  Tom, Dana, Larry, Alan

                                                                                           Alan, Dana, Larry

I can’t speak for all of us, but I know I spent thousands of hours from 1973-1982 working summers and weekends to pay my way through school. Those were not easy hours. The welding booth in the summer was wretchedly hot and I remember making the decision many times to wear the least amount of leather protection so the heat wouldn’t be so oppressive. The trade-off was having to bear the inevitable welding spark that would land on my t-shirt, slowly burning a hole in it until it reached my skin and an unseen glowing spark would slowly die out 2 inches north of my navel.

Suiting up for painting was great in winter but in summer it was a sweatbath.

                                                                                                                       Alan

From this time, at this place, each of us had a vision. For some, that vision revealed clearly that these surroundings would become their future- they would help nurture and grow the machine that Dad designed and help grow this shop and in the process, make a larger forge for others who would come to work for the business. For some of us our vision was different- even if we didn’t know we had a vision at this time.  Maybe it was just cluttered by the machines we were running…

… or the machines we were building.

                                                                                     PanelLifts, ready to go

But this work allowed us to get our hands dirty and our bodies sweaty. Our clothes became worn and frazzled.  We learned not to take for granted the comfort of a shower and clean fresh clothes, as we awoke the next day and put on yesterday’s dirty jeans and t-shirts; after all, we didn’t want to ruin new clothes before the old ones had finished their abilities to shield us from dirt, grease, welding spatter, and paint.

Working in this shop allowed us to be together working with family.

                                                                            Dad, Mom, Dana, Tom, Alan

But working in this shop also allowed us to be alone. Alone at long, tedious tasks, producing parts that stacked into boxes, carts and assembly racks. We learned the value of tedium, the value of monotony, the value of being uncomfortable while your body did work and your mind was free (or forced to drift elsewhere).

Whatever one’s work environment may be, I think there is a forlornness [in its loss] unmatched by people whose hands helped to build the place they work. I think of farmers and their families who through the generations have managed the same homesteads as they built barns and granaries, sheds and facilities to run their operations. Now, as corporate farms take over the landscape, these farmers and their families are faced with the declining ability to keep pace and are losing their businesses; but more to the heart- they are losing their land and buildings- a loss that is different than moving from a cubicle to another cubicle, a company to another company, even moving from one career to a different career. When your body has contributed to the means by which an enterprise has been planted, grown, and flourished, and now that enterprise has lost the means to be maintained- there is an emptiness.

I see this emptiness now as I walk through the dimly lit rooms of the old shop. Once the heart of the operation, it is now a shell.

There are left over machines, benches, odd tools, and stacks of odd parts…

… out-dated jigs that once cleverly allowed intricate parts to be efficiently produced- all now sitting and waiting…

…waiting for what may come next.  For now, there is no clear answer to their future.

Maybe some day these machines and this building will be resurrected for a new beginning.  Maybe they will return to dust as we know our own bodies will some day.

But even as I turn on the light in an old corner office, I am reminded that we are a people of The Resurrection.

December 3, 2018

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