The nice thing about reading buildings is that they do not place very many
expectations on the reader. You either get it, or you don't. I can't say this with
In my youth I worked for an Italian mason in Silver Spring, MD who spent every day
yelling at me. Each day it seemed he wanted me to do the opposite of what he had
instructed the day before. Needless to say, staying away from him and quietly
setting stone was more of a pleasure than his hassling.
One day he tried to explain to me that a set of steps on a house should have a
1/8" p/ foot pitch. The first time he explained it I was bemused that he would be
explaining something I had already known for a decade. I figured there had to be
more to the explanation than the obvious and that possibly he was trying to convey
a secret of the trade that I had not yet encountered. So when he asked me if I
understood I said with a slight tinge of doubt, "I think so." Well, thinking so
and knowing so for practical minded people are not anywhere near each other.
Feeling that I must "know" this information he launched into another patient
explanation. I could not understand why I was being told over again and surmised
that I must have missed the esoteric math involved, and listened with even more
intent concentration than before.
I could not the second time get to the depth of his peculiar reasoning or uncover
the magic in the masonry with my rational brain, and therefore a second time I
said, "I think so." At this point he was growing noticeably exasperated, which
seemed to happen a lot between us. I felt even more compelled to pay attention and
get to the essence of his teaching. We went on like this for the better part of a
morning before he threw up his hands in frustration and told me to go away.
It was no small wonder to him that for the year after, whenever I was sent off to
set stone steps, that there was a perfect 1/8" pitch, that he made quite sure to
check each time. I never did find out what was so special about it.
It eventually turned out that the reason he yelled at me every day was that he
liked me; as if he did not like me he would have said nothing.
[log in to unmask] wrote:
> In a message dated 10/10/98 1:15:53 AM, [log in to unmask] wrote:
> <<How about just reading the building?>>
> I agree. Books are helpful, but buildings are required. What's the point if
> you don't find out that you enjoy being around old buildings? But hanging out
> with experienced people helps a lot too. And most people with a few war
> stories are flattered when some one asks to hear them. Bring coffee and
> donuts. -jc
SOS Gab & Eti -- http://www.geocities.com/~orgrease