Sunday, November 8, 2015

Put Projects In The Projects

The old truck in the video is being restored by an 18 year old in Minnesota. Recently one of my uncles helped his 16 year old grandson (my second cousin) spend 2 years doing a complete restoration and upgrades to a 1970s model Toyota pick-up making the truck better than it was when it came from the factory.

I spent my high school years fixing up a 1955 F-100 Ford pick-up. I installed swivel bucket seats, leather upholstery, crushed velour headliner, dual exhaust, 4bbl carb, chrome grill, belt driven supercharger off an old T-bird, custom paint... Paid for every bit of it while working part time jobs. I wish I had it today.

Lots of my friends were doing the same though most were fixing up cars. Only my friend Mike was fixing up a 52 Ford F-100 with a 283 Chevy V/8 engine. Nice truck it was.

Want to keep your teenage boys (and girls) from getting in trouble while they're still young? Don't buy them a car, buy them a project and help them fix it. (Or build it.) And it doesn't have to be a car or truck.

People ask, what's wrong with kids these days? I look 3 blocks from my house to the projects on Phillips Avenue and I see no shop, no garage, no tools, no projects and no one to show them how to do the few things they can't figure out on their own.

No projects in the projects, that's what's wrong with kids these days.

Shop classes in our schools were pathetic back in my day. For most kids they're no better today. Every child should be learning to build something tangible-- something he or she can put hand on and say, "I did that."

Children living in rural areas, on farms and in the country are much more likely to get this kind of training at home. My son, who spent most of his early years living with his mother on his grandfather's place in Oak Ridge, could TIG weld (stick weld) as well as most professional welders, by the time he was eleven year old. He went on to write computer code for a living with no formal training. He ran the department where he worked. He could repair bulldozers, cook like a gourmet chef and lift 200 pounds with one hand.

It might be you see me as having not been much of a success with my life but with the help of my father-in-law I raised a son who was a straight A student and the child many parents dream their sons will grow up to be. We spent many an hour working on projects together-- sometimes just to see what would happen if...

The anniversary of my son's death will be here soon but there is no reason why Greensboro's other parents shouldn't have sons and daughters who turned out as good as mine. No reason, that is: except that there are no projects in the projects, no projects in your communities, no places anywhere in this city your children can walk to where they can create and build according to their own passions, the things they can hold in their own hands and say, "I did that."

The Guilford County Schools aren't going to do it for you. If you want it you are going to have to take it on your own to force the Greensboro City Council to do it for all of your children. Me, I'd call it infrastructure to build a new tomorrow.