Sunday, March 20, 2011
My Dad The Stonecutter
Today, few people know what a stonecutter is, even though until recently it was a common trade that was often a preparation to architectural training. Stone was, and in some ways still is, the fundamental building material for construction.
My dad the stonecutter practices trade between 1920 and 1970 an era when architects were still allowed to put art into architecture.
My dad practiced his trade in a large steal and glass building along with 50 or so others in a building we called the stone sheds in St Earns County, Minnesota, where the glaciers did all the heavy work eleven thousand years earlier.
The stonecutters and carvers and many related trades walked to work from their homes in khakis or blue denim often with aprons on, lunch buckets in hand, not unlike there predecessors 500 years before them in constructing cathedrals of Europe.
In his lifetime the stonecutter moved from job site to quarry site, primarily due to improvements in transportation and sawing technology, and for the most part disappeared from public view.
They were unassuming men whose children probably never knew what their fathers did in the stone sheds.
They including my father and his three brothers, Ted, Richard, and Larry. All were stonecutters and carvers, a dicey trade at best in those times of pneumatic tools. Some lived, some died.
But they were all wonderful artists and craftsmen who left their footprint on every city in America.
When my father the stonecutter learned I was following him in the trade, he gave me some practical advice that would serve many of us well:
“KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT AND BREATHE THROUGH YOU NOSE AND YOU WILL GET ALONG JUST FINE.”