Celebrations / People

A Tale of Two Dads: Printer Meets Improvisor


We’re sitting here on a gorgeous Father’s Day morning, talking about our Dads  … and what they would think of our handiwork on our recent townhouse renovation.

Our fathers had a lot in common. They both grew up in the country, and as children of the Depression, they became handy by necessity – in a quirky sort of way.


James’ Dad, William, was a man of many skills – an upholsterer by trade, and a whittler by choice. He once carved a 3-foot wooden chain for us, crafted from a single 3-foot length of cedar. He carved the links one-by-one, interlocking! It’s a magical marvel and one of our most cherished possessions. But he was also known for his practical, improvised solutions. Our favorite was his 8-foot-long pole (like a pool cue) that he fashioned so he could lay in bed and turn the TV off. Obviously before the days of remotes, it required serious manual dexterity and aim to hit the little “off button” – and was so much more fun than getting up!


Terri’s Dad, John, was a printer of books. He apprenticed and learned the business from the bottom up, playing many roles in the printing industry, branching out into magazines and other media. He worked hard to be handy, and often succeeded. Other times … well … he specialized in skinned knuckles. And never knew how he got them. Terri and her sisters often joke that he could walk through an empty room and emerge with skinned knuckles. But he made up for his clumsiness with his amazing creativity. John could look at an everyday object and see a work of art. He and Terri once built a round coffee table using two car wheel rims as the base with a round plywood top. It was way cool … and he let 13-year-old Terri stencil a folk design on it. Talk about a leap of faith.

Both men raised families of 4 kids, left wonderful memories, and died way too young. When it was clear that we loved each other, they became friends. They enjoyed each other, and made interesting contributions to each other’s lives.

William helped John find and buy an old red pickup truck he’d been searching for. “Ravishing Ruby” became one of Terri’s Dad’s proudest possessions. And when an ice storm caused the old cedar tree in John’s pasture to buckle under the weight, then split down the center, he called William to see if he could use the beautiful cedar wood on one of his whittling projects. That’s how we got our gorgeous chain.

Our final conclusion is that our ever-so-practical Fathers would be pleased with our handiwork on the townhouse. The job was practical enough and creative enough to appeal to both men.

If you’re a father, we’re sure that you deserve and will appreciate all the special treatment. Have a great Father’s Day all!

Peaceful Trails,
Terri and James

Photo Credit: 1. By Alviman

17 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Dads: Printer Meets Improvisor

  1. Fun blog on your fathers. I also had a Depression era dad who was quite creative. For example, things weren’t thrown away. An old washing machine became a flower pot, a fifty gallon oil drum morphed into a bar-b-que. Many a great meal was cooked on the bar-b-que. (grin) –Curt

    • Yep, our Dads would have loved yours. James’ Dad was the king of re-purposing items, just like your Dad. And his Mom was the queen of saving everything … because you just might need it some day. ~Terri

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