"The happiness in men consists in life, and life is in labor." - Tolstoy
"The common burden of our race." - A. Lincoln
"The capital of our workingmen." - Grover Cleveland
By Bob Weaver - Published 2002
THE WORKING MAN
It has been nearly two years since by dad Giff died. With him died some concern about the labors of my own life, that I never had a real job and did not "labor."
To labor was to sweat and flex muscle, sufficient hours each day to qualify as a workingman, he believed. Leave early, come home late.
His stories of work abounded, long hours, days at a time, fighting deep winter snows for the State Road, or digging with picks and shovels underneath roadways and up steep mountains laying pipeline.
The labor of survival on the WPA, knapping rock into the roadbeds of Calhoun during The Great Depression, earning a few survival dollars each week to stave starvation.
He was a history expert on The Great Depression.
Labor was a task to be performed erect and sturdy, not sitting in a chair or staring at the ceiling behind a desk or in front of a computer.
Not until the days of illness before his death, would he recline on a couch or bed during daylight hours. He was known to nap sitting in a chair, one eye open.
It was by the sweat of thy brow that one earns their keep. That was what Giff believed.
When I would try an explain how much mental energy I dispensed from my wealth of knowledge each day, he would quietly grumble.
I learned that despite a couple of long careers, I never had a real job.
It was on common ground we stood, however, as father and son, supporting one another in the challenges of life.
The day he died at 87, he said "I don't want to get down on that (ambulance) liter again, I would rather just sit here and go away."
Giff was proud of his labor.
And I am proud of Giff.