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Dads Take Over — Duct Tape Dynasty (A Philosophy of Restoration)

Duct Tape Dynasty (Restoration) NashvilleMomsBlog

{To honor Father’s Day, we are handing over our computers to the men in our lives and turning this little piece of the world wide web into Nashville Dads Blog!  Read along with their joys and struggles, and find out why we are so very thankful to have these awesome dads in our lives.}

Growing up spending a considerable amount of time with my grandfathers, I learned early on the value of being able to fix things. My Papa Wicks and Grandaddy Williams had both been young men during the Great Depression, and it was those hard times in the South that taught them to get the most out of what little they could afford by knowing how to maintain it or repair it. The old men I knew and loved were still as tight with a dollar as they were in the 1930s—but by the 1980s they could fix everything from a broken rod and reel to a blown Chevy smallblock headgasket with a roll of duct tape, a soldering iron, some 2-in-1 oil, bailing wire, and a jelly jar full of washers and bolts. Somewhere in there, they managed to teach me the basics of carpentry, mechanics, plumbing, wiring, furniture refinishing, painting, and distilling moonshine.

(OK, I made up that last bit. I doubt either of them ever touched a drop of moonshine—but they could’ve repaired a still if called upon to do so. I’m certain of it!)

In the postmodern era of disposable everything, it’s easy to let your kids fall into the pervasive philosophy of “Item is Purchased, Item Works for a Short Time, Item Breaks, Item is Trashed, New Item is Purchased” like it’s the God-ordained, red-blooded patriot’s way of life. Buy that one, and it’s only a matter of time before you decide the WWE is non-scripted, and Fox News is fair and balanced.

Gabe and William fixing Cars

I may be losing the battle, but I’m trying hard to teach our kids a different ideal. We frequently tell our boys, “In this family, we don’t throw things away—we fix them.” It’s an ethic, and every bit as important as good manners, politeness, generosity, and being able to burp out at least most of the alphabet after a lukewarm coke. (Don’t tell Meg I’m teaching them that…)

In our home, this ends up manifesting itself in both big and small ways. On the more significant side, the kids see us working on old houses—the one we are currently restoring, as well as old family properties and friend’s houses. William (the oldest) has helped with demo work, concrete, carpentry, and painting. Thomas, our younger boy, has already had a paintbrush in his hand as a toddler. We also have a classic car and an old Jeep in the driveway, and the boys have helped numerous times on basic maintenance projects. On the other end of the spectrum, there are toys in the Wicks Brothers Menagerie that have been glued, soldered, repainted, and (alas) even duct taped.

Gabe and Thomas Painting

Now, please don’t misunderstand—I’m not advocating being an extremist. The last time a hot water heater exploded in our basement, I didn’t break out the MIG welder and start tacking on new sheet metal. However, I did call up a friend to help me install a new one. (He did the wiring while I handled the plumbing.) Fortunately, our kids weren’t there for that—because along with some wrench skills, they also might’ve picked up a few choice expressions I try to only use on rare occasions when I’m stuck watching Fox News.

So where does it all lead? Do our boys ultimately end up as moonshiners living in custom-fabricated trailers down by the river, driving tricked-out Trans Ams with Bocephus stickers on the rear windows, just above Calvin taking a leak on some poor NASCAR driver’s number? A father can only dream…but I do hope that, if nothing else, we’ve managed to instill in them a basic impulse to try their hand at fixing things first and throwing away only when necessary.

Gabe Wicks

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