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the other stiletto falls (off) : gender kudos

updated tue 19 feb 02


Stephani Stephenson on sat 16 feb 02

you know the other side of the coin is that I have known so many men
organization and gleaming tool rooms put me to shame! I bet a good
number of men on this list are
in that category!

Also there are ones who taught me .
there was metal sculptor Tom Morandi who taught me how to use a big
grinder, weld, cast bronze, cast silver, file, braise, use the
sandblaster, the air tools and geez just about everything from a
jewelers file and jewelers saw to the big casting apparatus. and he was
a maintenance and organization freak, and i am so glad he was, because
he taught us well.

Then their was a wonderful boyfriend Matt. I knew something about auto
repair but Matt really knew what he was doing and showed me a lot. Only
he hated working on any car if the engine had any grime or oil on it, so
I always had to clean my car first.( He also insisted that all his wool
shirts have a couple of inches of air around them in the closet and that
his baseball stay neatly organized in the closet. He taught me how to
back country ski and snow camp and hunt. (He was disgusted because I
fished with bait instead of flies but he was worth it because he was
also the best cook around and the best hiking back country partner and
friend you could wish for.)
And there was Dan Dattilio who showed me how to clean a musket with
boiling water, and how to sharpen and oil tools.
Then there was Tom dimond who taught me how to throw and how to fire
kilns and mix glazes and everything to do with ceramics.
And there was my dad who built our family a house from the ground up. I
wasn't the least bit interested in tools then, preferring to hike or
ride my bike or draw or read books, but I had to do rock hauling duty
with the wheelbarrow and I got used to seeing my dad saw and hammer and
measure and drill. I also had the "hold this steady while I (saw,
hammer, drill)" duty. All of us had to help when we drove out to the
prairie to get flagstone. And my mom painted and sewed and taught me
about all those kinds of tools.

My uncle Keith who has the neatest auto repair shop I ever saw. He had a
hydraulic lift, which was awe inspiring and a real Coke machine, the
kind where the bottles slid along in they icy water and were a nickel.
His auto shop was beautiful and you could eat off the floor in there.

And there was Jim who taught me how to grease and maintain my pea
combine when I worked in the pea fields. Vince Fausti, the foreman , was
hoping I would screw it up, as I was on the first crew where they
allowed women to drive combines, instead of just work in the cannery. So
Vince was hoping I would roll it or screw it up, but Jim wanted to see
me succeed. I got the cruddiest oldest combine, but I took good care of
And there was Bob and Homer and Tom, together we worked, tearing down
old barns and houses for scrap. Working a farm, hooking up the tractor
to the mower, the bailer, the disc, and so on, digging post holes,
putting up fence, and using all those tools. Bob helped me rebuild the
engine on my old Chevy truck and got me in good with all the guys at the
auto parts store.
And there was Bob Settle who taught me how to load a horse into a
trailer, build a yurt, and sniff out good pie and coffee antwhere. Bob
had been a sailor and a merchant marine before he became a youth
counselor and he could do anything with rope. I never could learn that
and then there was the old farmer who , after watching me kill myself
bucking 100 pound bales all day (MANY years ago), and then still kill
myself with 50s, showed us how to adjust the baler so it made 35 pound
bales. Was life good or WHAT!
And then Mel taught me how to use the electric hammer, whhhoooeee, ka
boom, kaboom....

I was a dreamy goofy girl kid who never would have learned anything
about tools if it hadn't been for these men. I know there are many women
teachers out there too. At the time and place I grew up I didn't meet
too many tool role models who were women, so I learned a lot from
wonderful skilled men who didn't prejudge me because I was female and
who were happy to share knowledge. And then I continued to apply my own
brain and skills in other situations. At some point I realized that I in
fact had learned and picked up some skills along the way. We all do.

But don't you think those guys were great? I DO!!!!

There is some humor in my current situation, vis a vis tools, etc. and I
don't want to get so throttled by PC that I can't write about it, but
I'd never ever think badly of a whole gender. that is just plain
stupid. And there are so many of you true blue fine quality male
critters out there representing your gender!
I think you are just fine!

And I respect your tools just like you respect mine!!!(couldn't resist)

Stephani Stephenson

Dannon Rhudy on mon 18 feb 02

At 11:04 PM 02/16/2002 -0800, you wrote:
>you know the other side of the coin is that I have known so many men
>whose organization and gleaming tool rooms put me to shame!
>Also there are ones who taught me .
>I learned a lot from
>wonderful skilled men who didn't prejudge me because I was female and
>who were happy to share knowledge..........

That was a very interesting post, Stephani. I learned most of what
I know about how to operate machinery, fix what's broke, and make
do with what's available from the men who scratched their livings from
the hills of Southern Indiana and Kentucky. They might have had
predjudices - probably did. BUT - I was interested, my brothers and
dad were usually there, and no one would tell my dad to send me away.
I didn't mind working, and found that after a time or two I was welcome.
But I suspect that I DID interfere with their natural inclination for
in the face of recalcitrant tractors, tools, cows and pigs. Sometimes they'd
send my brother and me for water, and we could hear them yelling until
we came back in sight again. Then they'd make an adjective shift.

These men had had to "make do" for all their lives and they were really,
really good at it. Thinking "outside the box"? None of them ever knew
there WAS a box - and I will never cease to be grateful for getting daily
lessons in innovation and self reliance, and skillful use of mind and eye.
So my thanks go to Virgil and Jewel, Chauncy and Caroll, Airy Ferris,
Bill Dave, and all six of the Fletcher boys(which boys were in
their 60's & 70's when I knew them).

Now I'm late for class. So much for reading the mail in the mornings,
when I should know better.


Dannon Rhudy