20. The Wood Shop

Best to begin with the wood shop.  Best to see how the epic is born from the banal.

Nearly a decade done with college and with little affinity for power tools, I had little business being there.  And yet there I was, in a woodshop at Mission Bay High in San Diego on a cold night in January.  A handful of adults also filled the room, all of us wanting to learn how to use woodworking equipment.  One older woman wanted to make a clock to hang in her kitchen.  A new father wanted to make a bassinet.  Someone else a cabinet.  So once a week we gathered in the fluorescent lit room smelling of sawdust and singed wood. The teacher, a blond middle aged man who surfed, had a comforting even presence of mind, which was probably key for a guy who’s job was to show people how to work with machines that could rip their arms off.

On the first night, as we were taking our first tour of the planers and table saws, drill presses and routers, I recognized someone. Up front, drawn in under a Greek fisherman’s cap, sat Gerry Coon.  We’d grown up together in Mission Hills in San Diego. I thought somehow that he should have been dead, but perhaps that was just because of his brothers.

After class we approached one another.  He asked why I was there.

I want to build a table, I said.  And a chair.  You?

His voice was so quiet I had to strain to hear him.  I want to build a boat, he answered.

3 thoughts on “20. The Wood Shop

    • Okay girl, I will not let you descend into becoming a russian! You deserve better than watery potato skin soup. I’ll try to get them posts up each day.


  1. Very dear Andy-
    Regarding my husband: The wood and tools fill his fingers, his spirit, and his intellect, providing fodder for all three in a manner that the most ardent of religiosities could not comprehend. The skill is cultivated by years of study and diligent application, but cemented in an innate sense of earthy artistry that makes him as conversant with wood as he is with constellations, tides, atmospheric conditions, animals, mathematics, history, and beauty. My husband’s gentle, soft-spoken, melodious voice is truly memorable, as you mentioned, and both qualities combined make for the very HUMAN demi-god that I married 17 years ago! I also remember very fondly a delicious luncheon in Vermont, with a checked tablecloth, fried chicken and bottled lemonade, and a newly-born Maizy (sorry-that’s the way we spell our little doggie’s name, but I don’t think it’s how you spell that of your progeny!), where we were all so full of hopes and dreams a decade or so ago! I have enjoyed your writings. Perhaps it would be best to speak again (FB, Skype), after such a long hiatus, in private? So good to hear of you. Try me on FB. Ger, of course, is rather more private than that… But you would expect that.
    All the best, Erin
    Oh, if you ‘d like to see some of the publications where Ger is featured, check out the Australian Wood Review magazine for September (July?), or Carba-Tec trade magazine articles online, or… well, just Google Gerald Coon and see what you come up with! And we sure would love to hear from you!

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