Sunday, December 16, 2007

Painting with Dad

The past few days have been unbelievably busy in the work arena and in the middle of December that's a beautiful thing. For those that don't know, I'm a general contractor. My primary focus is on specialty concrete coatings, but I've also done several other trades through the years such as framing, sheet rock and painting.

Most of this knowledge I gleaned from my dad as I was growing up. You see when something around the house needed fixing or doing, he didn't pick up the phone book and call someone at random, he picked up the tool belt and called down the hall to his three sons. "Come on guys, we're painting the house this weekend." would not be an uncommon phrase heard in our home. Neither would, " Boys, we're putting in a sprinkler system and new lawn."

Now actually doing these jobs was quite the process. The reason, there was only one way that any of them could and would be done. That was the Gene Bach Sr. way! My dad was an expert in all fields of home renovation. Never mind that some things he had never done before. In no way did that influence his ability to be the world's foremost authority on any subject. This would be painstakingly played out in his detailed instructions on how every aspect of a particular job was to be done.

If painting the house was on the agenda, he would start by giving us the complete history of how paint was made including, oil based, latex, varnish, shellac, primers, base coats, sealers and any new concepts that hadn't reached the market place yet. This would be followed by a 'Everything you ever wanted to know about a paint brush, but were afraid to ask' speech. He would then continue to enlighten us with wisdom concerning all the other items we'd be using throughout the project. By the time I was ten years old I could tell you more about painting supplies than most paint store owners.

Following the 'History of paint' portion of our morning we would then be treated to a 'How to properly prepare a house for paint' session. All the joys of scraping, sanding and priming were magically brought to life right before our very eyes.

Once our chemistry and physics lesson was complete it would now be time to learn the masters skill of application. As you might have guessed, this was no short explanation and turn them loose type of talk. It was a highly detailed demonstration of how all houses on the planet should be painted. In this chapter we would learn firsthand how, by example, to properly apply paint to a vertical surface. It should be noted that no paint can was to be opened until drop clothes were meticulously placed around all areas where a droplet of paint could possibly find the ground. With these precautionary measures in place and all shrubs and flowers trimmed or tied out of the way (insert whole other lesson plan here) it was now time to open the first can.

For the next several hours dad would show us how he wanted "us" to paint the house. As he would dip the brush into the paint and spread it onto the house he'd continue our education in proper technique by showing us over and over and over again how he wanted it done. Then the moment of truth would arrive, our 'graduation ceremony' as it were. Just before we passed out from boredom of watching him do what he wanted "us" to do he would hand over the brush or roller to one of us. You could see the clouds part and hear angels sing as this moment of greatness was thrust upon us. It was like a passing of the Holy Grail from the master to the pupil.

Now is when the tension would really mount. Would our hours of training pay off? Would we have truly learned the one and only, correct way? With the first stroke of the brush our skills and memory retention would be put to the test. Inevitably one of us would paint from left to right instead of the other way around and dad would spend the next hour on a refresher course to instill that we got it.

About this time my wise and crafty mom would come out and look at us to see how it was going. She would be greeted by our usual rolling of the eyes or a mock strangling of ourselves from the sheer frustration of watching dad all morning. She'd give us a wink or a smile and then find some pressing need for dad to come into the house to 'help' her, or if she was exceptionally cleaver that day she would get him to go up town for something. At this point my brothers and I would go into full commando mode, attacking the house from all possible directions. We would paint like Micheal Angelo on steroids. By the time dad would return we'd be well on our way to completion and he'd see that all his instructions had paid off.

This is pretty much how all the projects around our house went and after we had grown and knew how to do all the things he taught us, he took the roll of supervisor. We would later refer to him as Inspector 12. Dad's methods may have seemed excessive at the time, but I must admit it has made me one heck of a detailed oriented contractor today. He taught me valuable lessons such as taking pride in craftsmanship and working hard, both of which I find the general workforce to fail miserably at today. There were times when I though I was going to lose my mind from his comprehensive instructions, but I wouldn't trade them in now for anything. Thanks dad for taking the time, sometimes lots of time, to show me how to accomplish anything!


Gene Bach said...

Hey Jeff, you remember the time we replaced the deck flooring on the porch of the house in Santa Rosa? :-0

I'd have to say your description of the projects is pretty accurate.

By the suck.

Kerri said...

What a nice post about your dad!

Oswegan said...

Sounds like he taught you well.

Have a great week.


Mel said...


How cool to have a dad that made the time to teach you things...productive things.....
And how cool to have a mom that rescued you. LOL

Right to left?

Oh crud......

Roger said...

Thats a rare thing these days my friend for a father to take the time to show his kids perfection in working. I am sure you wanted to pull all your hair out lol. But as you say, that all stuck with you and made you a good worker which is also rare!

Mimi Lenox said...

Entertaining and touching. He sounds like quite a guy.

buffalodickdy said...

Great post! My dad was a great guy, but didn't know where the hood latch was to a car hood- and he sold cars for a living! As soon as I was old enough, I started teaching myself alot of those life skills, as I had lots of energy and no money to hire it done!

Travis said...

I'm jealous. I didn't have anyone to teach me stuff like that. I don't know how to fix much around the house.

Odat said...

Nice to realize that Dads are sometimes right...I'm glad you know this today.

Jeff B said...

Gene- That was quite the 'pic-nic' wasn't it?

Kerri- He was a great guy, I miss him.

Oswegan- He did indeed.

Mel- Right to left, as long as you're right handed.

Roger- It's amazing how the things that used to drive me crazy back then are a part of my routine today.

Mimi- Now that I can look back on those times they are entertaining, but in the middle of them I often wondered.

Buffalo- I feel fortunate that he had all those skills to passon to me and my brothers.

Travis- It has to be tough to grow up without that influence. I try to show my boys as much as I can now so they will have a good foundation for latter on.

Odat- I think we knew it then too, but like you eluded to, our parents do magically get smarter as we get older. I think right after we move out of the house we realize they're brilliant!

Latharia said...

Oh, what a wonderful collection of memories!!!!!! I hope this gets recorded for posterity somewhere.

katherine. said...

it sounds like your home was a showcase worthy of Sunset Magazine! Great memories with lasting you teach your own kids this way?

(full commando mode ??)

Christinker said...

I enjoyed your memories about your dad. But the funny thing is that I've never actually heard him speak. At least not to me!! ;-)

Matt-Man said...

I think you and I may be related. Did your Dad ever father offspring in Ohio? Cheers!!

Anonymous said...

Jeff - You sure make me miss my brother and all of you on the West Coast. Have a Merry Christmas - Love Aunt Jackie

Marilyn said...

Wow... I think your dad and my husband's father must have been related.

Andy's inherited perfectionism comes in handy as an ofset to my haphazar and somewhat random methods though. I've learned a lot from that man, even though I never met him.

Marilyn said...

Oh, I almost forgot. Link me! by all means link me as often as you want and I'll link you up in my side bar!

Psycho Mom said...

He was "interesting" to work for/with, wasn't he? Pity me this year trying to wrap Christmas gifts for the first time, alone, without benefit of a two-hour lecture on the origin of paper and a follow up lecture on gift wrap etiquette, followed by blow-by-blow instructions on the correct way to cut paper, the amount of tape to be used -- or not -- and the best use of colorful ribbon. Then *she says gnashing teeth and grimacing* the dreaded . . . placement of the gifts under the tree. Ohmigosh, I'm certain I did it all wrong!

"The Babe"

Annie said...

I can see you, in my mind's eye, rolling your eyes while listening to your Dad. And now, I can see you, thinking back to what Dad said about how to do this or that.

What a tribute to involved parenting!

Jeff B said...

Latharia- That's a great idea. I'm sure my boys will enjoy comparing notes someday.

Katherine- I try to be a bit more relaxed in my approach, but old habits die hard sometimes. When I see the rolling eyes I know it's past time to stop.

Christinker- He wasn't always the most talkitive person, but when he did speak he never mixed words.

Matt- I wondered why he said he liked the Great Lakes area so much.

Aunt Jackie- We all miss him, and sometimes it's these silly little things that get to me most. Merry Christmas to you and the rest of the gang in Texas.

Marilyn- Just think how boring it would be if God made us all the same. I'll look for your comment story game post when it comes up and be sure to link it.

Mom- I'm surprised he didn't leave us all some written instructions on how to carry on in his absence. All kidding aside, you two can not be topped!

Annie- His guidance through the years was a great training ground for becoming a parent myself.

Desert Songbird said...

And you're a good son to admit that you really DID learn something and now put those lessons into practice.

BTW - I have a friend who is a contractor who specializes in specialty concrete coatings but does other stuff on the side, too. AND he's from the PacNW - how ironic is that?

Anonymous said...

Jeff, Very well written, what a great tribute to "My Genie-bro", and the legacy lives on. An apt discription on his methodology. I was at the receiving end of his instructions in placing Mom's headstone, and will try to give exacting instructions in the spring for your Dad's if you like. Merry Christmas to all, and hope to see you soon. Love, Aunt Frankie in Texas

Mel said...

....double crud.....

I'm right handed.

I AM ambidextrous at a lot of things!
Perhaps painting is one of 'em?

Right to left, huh?

...triple crud......