Saturday, June 19, 2010

Father's Day

The other night I was visiting Dad at the family homestead, 41st, listening to war stories from Boeing days.

Seattle was pretty much a one-company town back in the 1950s and '60s, and it played a constant role in the Averill family. Simply getting on at Boeing required serious mental gymnastics. Dad started at Seattle University for two year's to gain his engineering degree. SU is a catholic school in the heart of capitol hill.

His grades were lousy in high school. Fortunately, Seattle University lost the transcripts he sent from his Illinois High School. If SU had seen those transcripts he never would have been admitted. That bit of luck enabled him to start his first quarter in engineering with Uncle Sam picking up the tab on the G.I. bill.

Meanwhile, by the time SU found dad's transcripts he had proven himself a good student with a 3 point-plus GPA. After a short debate with his SU advisor the man threw the incriminating transcripts away, letting dad off the hook... and probation. In two years time he transferred to the U.W. Now the moral: why did he study so hard and turn everything around? Cuz he had to feed the kids!

Motivating his study to become an engineer was the grinding work and low wages of being a rivet bucker at Boeing, his first job. Times were not super easy in Seattle. And to even get that job he had to apply about 3 or 4 times.

First he applied asking for a wage of about $1.50/hour (things were cheap in 1950!) Boeing response: "we don't have any starting job at that high wage!" The boss put dad's application in the round file. But he needed that job, and so went right back again, filling out another application with a "will take any wage!" He also put down his "desire" to work day shift as a rivet bucker.

Said Boeing: "Don't you have another application already filled out?" Dad: "throw that one away." Boeing: "The day shift? Not willing to work anywhere, anytime? Sorry, no jobs." That application went to the bottom of the pile. Dad went back a third time, and said he was willing to work anywhere, anytime for any wage. Boeing said "Great! You're hired for the swing shift!" Why was he so motivated? He had his first born son on the way!

Kids rarely know what fathers put up with in order to make sure we are fed, clothed, sheltered. We see them come home at night grumpy. What we don't see is the long day's labor earning bread and butter to keep the family going.

Well on father's day, what better time to say thanks dad for all the sacrifices you made. Those spankings were a pain. The yelling matches were something else. But you always had our best interest at heart. Thanks! And to all the dads out there as well a very happy father's day!


  1. You didn't know he went to Seattle University? One of his classmates was my math teacher at Roosevelt; Mis Hardy. Ask him about Elgin Baylor, who helped lead Seattle University Chieftans to the NCAA Basketball finals, before he went on to become an NBA Hall of Famer. He went with the Lakers to the NBA finals seven times, and then coached the LA Clippers and worked for them up until two years ago.

  2. I didn't know any of that. Laura wondered where the heck I've been all these years. Good ol' Laura.

  3. Tell Mom and Dad to do more scans!