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IN THIS ISSUE

VINTAGE LUNCH OR COMPASS
FOR THE FUTURE? (cont)
BY MARK NEELEY

The idea that this box not only represented Daddy Bob, but other working men, appealed to me greatly, especially because it’s what Daddy Bob represented to me as well.  When I look at this lunch box, I see the working men and women that gave us the greatest country on earth. Those workers who labored in mills, factories, construction sites, and plants across the United States and did an honest day’s work for an honest day’s wage.  They drove trucks, heavy equipment, built houses, shopping centers and skyscrapers. They made steel, concrete, brick , and plywood. They built planes, trains and automobiles. They made fans, toasters, mixers, stoves and refrigerators.  They used jack hammers, sledge hammers, pipe wrenches and crescent wrenches. They ran presses, lathes, hoppers and kilns.  They carried their lunch daily. No fast food lunches, rather a sandwich, some soup, leftovers and possibly, as Archie Bunker would have it, a Twinkie.

This black domed box represents a simpler time, an industrious, nobler time.  It represents a time when many American men went to work under a trade, though they were not limited to that trade only, because most of them had several skills that they had learned during life.  It represents the common man that had common sense. The kind of guys you could enlist on a problem that affected a job and they could give you solutions.  They could get you out of a bind the first time, save you money on the job and lay out an affective plan to solve any future problems that might crop up.  They did these things without the aid of a computer, at most with simply a pencil and paper. They were real Americans that knew who they were. They believed in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They believed in the principles that founded this country and most of them fought to preserve our freedom from tyranny such as socialism, fascism, and communism. They called it like it was.  As a whole, they did not tolerate corruption in their politicians.  They paid off debt and took little on.  They believed in living within their means, not keeping up with the Joneses. They were responsible and accountable.  They understood that there were consequences to your actions, and expected others to abide by those rules.  They paid cash for goods and bought little on time.  They took care of their own and took care of what they owned. They expected the media to report the news only.  Hollywood celebrities were not the news or news worthy, they thought little of it. Entertainment might be a family reunion, local picnic, softball game or stroll downtown for a coke.  First and foremost they believed in God.  This kept them from accepting immoral or corrupt policies in their government or society.  They believed in family and expected everyone to be seated at the table for supper, no excuses. They were not spoiled, nor did they tolerate spoiled children. They quickly corrected an errant child, with love in their hearts, because they understood that this was crucial in the child’s development.  They expected you to work for your living, if not you were a loafer and worthless in their eyes. They gave thanks to God for their food, health, shelter, and lives, in essence for all things. They were the backbone of America, the fiber that held this country together. They were guys like Daddy Bob, not perfect, but real Americans, the ones that built her, fought for her and preserved her.

While on my trip and purchasing the lunch box, my friend who owned it asked me what I was going to do with it. I told him I was going to carry it to work. Now in his 60s, he smiled and said he remembered carrying one like it to the plant he worked at in the 1970s. I recounted my experience of watching Daddy Bob carry his, typically watching him bring it in after work, sitting it on the counter, opening the fridge to drink from his green glass water jar before he started his second job of taking care of the “farm”. My black domed lunch box represents a lot to me. Since I have owned it, I have carried my lunch nearly every day in it. Not only does it serve a valuable function to hold my sandwich, fruit, chips and occasional Twinkie. It serves as a mid day reminder of Daddy Bob, and the America we once had. The one that we have lost and the one that we had better return to before it’s too late.  It has become my blue collar compass, one that I am proud to own and one that I find myself increasingly glancing at to find my way back to the America I once knew.


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