Monday, 30 July 2012

DIY as it once was

To say my father was the ultimate DIYer is a bold statement, but he was a standout even in an era when neccessity dictated that almost everyone was a DIYer to some extent. And he wouldn't have had a clue what DIY meant - he just did it himself if there was any possible way he could. Buying was a last resort. There simply wasn't the money available in most instances so if he couldn't make it (or do it) himself, we as a family had to go without in most cases. But we did have the neccessities. We even moved into a brand new house when I was about 12 years old. My father had borrowed money to buy a low-lying, swampy residential block of land about 15 years previously.

He raised the level by laboriously carting in topsoil that he obtained from the side of a country road where a grader had done some widening work. He shovelled it onto his 1937 Chevrolet 2 ton flat-deck truck (similar to the one pictured), carted it home and shovelled it off - all 300 loads - in the weekends and on evenings after work. It took him years.

 
He then made hundreds of cement blocks from gravel and sand he shovelled and carted home out of a nearby riverbed. He designed and built the mold he made them in. He designed and built the house and fitted it out with joinery of his own making. The only tradesman he engaged was the electrician who did the wiring, because the law didn't allow him to do it himself. He even did his own plumbing and drainage, having convinced a registered plumber to inspect and sign off his work.

Building the house was only a part of his my father's DIY effort. He lived it every day of his life, feeding the family by buying live sheep from a farmer and butchering them himself to catching trout and salmon on homemade tackle and canning them. He was not a miserly man; he had simply learned to live and provide for his family on a shoestring because it was the only way he knew.

Yesterday my car needed a wash, so what did I do? I drove a 12km round trip to the petrol station, paid $14 for the privilege of waiting 35 minutes in a queue to have my car washed less perfectly than I could have done it myself at home for free. My dad just wouldn't have understood. I'm not sure that I do, either.

4 comments:

  1. Yes, unfortunately we are a spoiled generation. My father also would not have understood some of the things for which I just exchange money.

    But your father was a wonder!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Bruce, on behalf of my dad. Like everyone, he had his faults, too - and that was mostly what I inherited.

      Delete
  2. My Dad did things the same way yours did too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it was a Kiwi thing, Jennifer - number eight fencing wire and all that. Still exists, but not as universal as it once was.

      Delete