It’s not uncommon to hear stories of memories being made, skills being learned, or even businesses being built in a garage. In his first Woodtex blog post, our Director of Marketing, Patrick Miller, brings us the experiences and life lessons learned while spending countless hours in the garage with his dad and brother.
As a kid, the garage was the second most important ‘room’ in the house. Other than the kitchen, no other space holds as many memories for me as the garage.
I was a ‘car guy’ as young as 3 or 4 years old, and when I went to kindergarten I could identify most every car that drove by our house on the busy state highway. Knowing the difference between a Pontiac Firebird and a Chevy Camaro was a cool thing for a five-year-old.
My dad nurtured that love by making sure we always had a great garage wherever we lived. When Dad showed up with a brand new 1981 Honda Civic–our first new car, similar to the one above–I remember he would carefully park it in the garage and warn us sternly about not letting our bicycles bang against the shiny new paint.
On Saturdays, we spent a lot of time in the garage. Dad was fastidious about his cars, and my brothers and I begged to help him wash the car on Saturday afternoons.
He would always wash the car in the garage. I had no idea until I was older that most people wash their cars in the driveway. He didn’t want the sun to dry the car too quickly, lest it would leave water spots on the paint. Even in winter, he’d fire up the old wood stove in the corner, getting it nice and cozy in there, and we’d shed our coats and get underfoot as he gave the car it’s weekly bath.
I remember distinctly when I was allowed to help with this routine. My introduction to washing the car was being allowed to start with the wheels and tires. He was concerned about having dirt in the water that might scratch the paint, so I was to wait to wash the tires and wheels until he had washed the rest of the car.
On the surface, these memories seem pedestrian–almost mundane. But that’s where life happens–In the mundane threads that weave our lives together into the fabricthat is life and family. The conversations that happen when father and son are tackling a project. The values that are imparted. The lessons learned.
It’s not a stretch to say that many Saturdays were spent almost entirely in the garage. It was our domain, where we could be dirty and greasy, and grow up from boys to men. But there was one exception to our total dominion over the garage: Mom.
Mom had one rule about the garage: When we’re done working, and washing the car, we had to get the garage floor cleaned up. Her clean house was not going to stay clean if the whole family tracked through a dirty garage to get to the house! So after the day’s work was done, we’d pull the car out, and work with a hose and a squeegee, and clean up the garage floor until it met her satisfaction.
As my brothers and I got older, the size and scope of our garage projects grew as well. The fastidiousness of my parents and my love for cars melded with our entrepreneurial tendencies, and I started a business with my brother right in our garage. I was 13, and he was 11, and we started detailing vehicles for friends and family. We’d start early on Saturday morning, and toil for many hours to get those cars as close to new looking as possible. We made some money too-I think we started out charging around $75, and soon raised our prices above $100 per car. That’s real money to a couple of adolescents!
Many Saturdays, we would be squeegeeing the floor after a long day of car detailing and the clock would turn past midnight. Sunday morning. We knew then that we’d better scoot. There was a strict prohibition against working on Sunday, and it was now Sunday morning. Time to put the stuff away, park the customer’s car proudly in the driveway, and carefully pull Dad’s car back into the garage.
Now that I have my own sons I realize again how important it is to have spaces like the garage. Space for boys to be boys, and men to be men. Where you can turn wrenches on cars, lawnmowers and bicycles. Or where you can just push the door up, set up some lawn chairs, and sit there and watch a warm summer rain while enjoying some of Mom’s chocolate chip cookies.
It’s deeply rewarding and humbling to be a part of creating spaces like this. Spaces where memories are made, treasures are stored, and lives are knit together. I’m incredibly proud to be a part of the Woodtex family, and I invite you to create your own ‘stories from the garage’!