Friday, March 27, 2020

Another Banker's Box

Actually there are a few of them but here I'm focused on just one.

We are getting close, set to move back in to the house at the end of the month.  The house is getting close though not quite ready....we ARE moving in Tuesday 3/31.  Since the weather hasn't been conducive to riding, weekends and evenings have been spent either working on bikes or cleaning/sorting through accumulations in the garage and shop.  I'm not done.

One box was full of old paperwork, early resumes, projects from my consulting business, souvenirs, old concert tickets....there was a little something of most everything in this one, even instructions for setting the Tillotson carburetors on my Yamaha snowmobile.  I have to guess that dad found them somewhere (not the Internet) and typed them out for me.  I was working on a farm in southern MN that winter and was having real trouble getting the GP338 to run right with its twin carbs.  It was a rich-running, gas hog.  The problem was finally solved by installing a 1 into 2 manifold and a single carburetor.

More concert, theater, film ticket stubs were found.  I knew but had forgotten how many there were.  It took seeing them again in 2020 though a few venues would have been completely forgotten about without actually being reminded.   I have only grown more appreciative, lucky to have met and to have been exposed to friends that circled in far different worlds that the one I had grown up with.  Being open to them, their ideas and (most of) what they shared has made a huge difference....I've been forever thankful.  Artists, musicians, actors and their many arts  'arrived' with appreciation that I'm sure time, place, friends and environments helped make happen.

Memories came flooding back from our many visits to the U of M's Film Society presentations.  We apparently were on an Australian film kick during that time.  Smash Palace, Gallipoli, My Brilliant Career the ones off the top of my head, most easily remembered but there were many more; we were going often.  In at least one previous Post, I've mentioned my ongoing difficulty with persistent ear worms.  For over 40 years, Schumann's "Themes From Childhood" once 'set' has been a bugger to get rid of, often flowing through my head like the big river we live adjacent to flows past our neighborhood.  That music was front and center in the film as the young Judy Davis was struggling to leave her past behind, to realize the career she'd been destined.

Sometimes, the stars line up in amazing ways.  Sunday these ticket halves were being uncovered in The Box which resulted in the tune from that AUS produced movie to once again start flowing through me.  Judy Davis hadn't been part of my world since I can't remember when.  Home from work this week and in our temporary quarters Peg was watching Mystery Road, a several episode film. Right there front and center was Ms. Davis and her unmistakable bright red hair, a local police sergeant in a northwestern Australia town.  I joined my partner, sat and watched but underneath everything, "Themes From Childhood" flowed.  Making it all that much richer, Peg asked me to guess Judy's age and I was darned close, absolutely within the margin of error.

One of my early research papers.....the artwork on the cover and sketches on various pages inside may have been this work's crowning achievement.

On my academic way....

Then my early forays into scientific research.....perhaps a signal to refocus my field of study.

My grocery store carry-out job and union membership.

The summer after I graduated little bro and I rode to TX, he on his 500cc Suzuki Titan and I was on my Sportster.  We got as far as AR and then decided that we'd had enough and headed back home.

From Gramp, an example of his sense of humor.  He corresponded with everyone, penpals in numerous countries but there were always at the very least weekly letters with our family.  I received a portable typewriter for graduation and I picked up his habit.  A semester of typing in high school and I was off and corresponding my very own self.

I grew up knowing and I mean really knowing exactly what I'd be doing for the rest of my life and that was farming.  It was only natural to go on with a Farm Operation and Management two year degree after my senior year.

I apparently found this to be a better fit than scientific research had been.

After the first year at Ag School, my future as a farmer was in question, for a variety of reasons.  There were family questions and probably more importantly, the realization that I was developing an overwhelming sense of wanderlust.  There was still a desire to be involved with agriculture in some way, even if not specifically a farmer.  There were applications put in at various firms.

Various positions were applied for, a couple of them won but turned down.  I decided to enroll at St. Paul's Tech School in the Machine Tool Processes/Tool and Die Program but only because the Electrician course was full with no openings forseen.  At that time students could enroll for free if they were under 21 years of age and I was getting very close.

Through the MN employment office I found evening work doing floor care (stripping/waxing) Twin City convenience stores (Tom Thumb) and Walgreen's drugstores.  We'd be there at store closing, typically 11pm and were paid by store served rather than by hours worked.  Stoners, those with an affinity for the drink and other night people made this my biggest adventure close to home, at least up until that time.

One of my fellow machinist classmates, Nels, was working as a 2nd shift janitor at a firm called Cardiac Pacemakers.  There was an opening in their R and D machine shop so he quit school to take it while available and encouraged me to apply for his 2nd shift janitor position, both the hours and working conditions a huge improvement over floor enhancement. There would be more janitorial bits and bobs before I was through.

I was a janitor for 3 months and then moved into the Q.C. department as a Clean Room inspector, doing various electronic tests on heart pacemakers on the 2nd shift.  When The Season was upon us, I'd ride my Yamaha AT1 enduro to school, had permission to leave at 3:00 and then blast to my evening shift.  They were long but good days.  I don't remember how many months but soon after graduating from the Tool/Die Program, another opening in the Shop was available and I got the promotion, once again taking Nels' spot as he moved to Machinist "B".

CPI was the first medical firm that Manual Villafana founded, I followed him from there to St. Jude Medical where we produced heart valves and then when he started Helix BioCore, I followed once more, starting and setting up their R and D prototype shop.  The company opened the day of the 1987 stock market crash, hinted at with the mention of Risk in this article.

It was while employed at Helix BioCore that we bought the farm in Frontenac and a short time later, we moved out of the Twin Cities and I no longer commuted to the NW Twin Cities suburb.  After various other jobs, most of them at regional medical companies, I moved on to the Hennepin County Medical Center Orthopaedic Biomechanics Laboratory where our work involved bones rather than hearts.

I was at the Biomechanics Lab for 14 years and loved it...a dream job that I miss dearly. 

In 2010, there were more adventures to follow, some orthopedic, some drug delivery until finally in 2014 I arrived where I'm currently employed, working as an Applications Engineer for a machine tool distributor.

Thanks Nels for getting me started in the right industry!!  No way would I still be involved if I hadn't taken that evening full time job.  It's been good, it's been fun.


  1. What a history! But where are the motorcycles?

    1. Ah, I get to use a big word. Don't confuse vocation and avocation. :)

  2. Dang..... seriously... dang. :)

    1. Now the records can be disposed of, their role accomplished.

  3. What a treasure. I'm not sure I would be able to reconstruct my life as easily. I am known for throwing out unused stuff and I am not very sentimental either. But I will have a look and see what I can come up with.

    1. Sonja, it's a lot of stuff that will no longer have a home here. It has been fun remembering, a reasonably sized reward for the space and effort spent in keeping everything. I've had fun sharing.