Slowly We Turn…

Our engineered plans were filed with the City of Fairhope. Sue and I closed on our construction loan this week and have our builders risk insurance in place.

Everyone seems to ask, “When are you going to start?” Well, we started back in June when we bought the lot, and it really has not stopped. It’s been “going.”

I think about my father when they ask. He was in the building trade as a drywall hanger and finisher for many years. He died in 1994. When I think back on his craft, and make no mistake it was a craft, like a sculptor or a plasterer, I call him the maestro of mud. (No one ever called it by the name on the green and white bucket-joint compound.) He could wield those knives better than John Williams could ever shake a baton.

When I worked with my Dad, on Cape Cod and on Martha’s Vineyard, most of the people called him Frank, but everyone in our family called him Francis. My dad had developed an alter ego.

“Hey Frank, when you gonna wrap this up?” Teddy K. his boss, would ask him.

I’d be covering screws, sweeping, or most likely sanding the now dried mud smooth.

“If it wasn’t for (insert name of contractor, plumber, electrician, or weather phenomenon) I’d be done already,” Frank would say.

My Dad and I watched The Three Stooges together a a lot on Channel 38 on Saturday mornings. I don’t remember Dad smiling much, but Curly or Moe could still get a grin out of him.

Gents without Cents,” a short from 1944, is based on an old Vaudeville Act. The Three Stooges play aspiring entertainers who meet three women and this episode includes acting rehearsals, dancing, gymnastics, musical numbers, and of course, slapstick. There is even one scene, on the stage at the shipyard, where Larry loses his lines. You can tell he’s not hitting the mark. But Larry is  a professional, yes he’s a Stooge, but he’s also a classically trained violist. He’s only off for one or two words and then boom! He’s back in stereo with Moe.

Whenever he was doing his job, my dad, like all construction workers are part of the greater gig, the big picture. Lots of other jobs had to wait until my father was done taping and coating all the sheetrock seams, joints, and steel corners. Also, my dad had to wait for those jobs that went before his could begin.

I draw a construction parallels to symphonies and The Three Stooges because when people are not completely in sync, it is noticeable, and off-putting. But symphonies like house building, and Larry, can recover so the rhythm of the work site matches the down stroke of the general contractor. Unlike my father and Larry, what happens during construction is out of our control. We have hired professionals, contractors and their craftsmen to construct a well built house in a timely manner.

So if you ask me, “When are they going to get started?”, or “When are you moving in?” I could play Moe, in the scene from Gents without Cents.

“Slowly I turn, step by step, inch by inch…”

Or I may say:

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

If that doesn’t work, my plan is to shout the words made famous by another Frank.

“Serenity Now! Serenity Now!” Like Frank Costanza in Seinfeld.

I’ll post the details of this exciting experience here.

If you have other questions please visit my alter ego at “Stump the Librarian.”

Final Plan Edit


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