January 20, 2011

What Grandpa Knew - Learning from the Elders

On Public Radio this morning, I heard an interview with Erin Bried, the author of the new book, How to Build a Fire: And Other Handy Things Your Grandfather Knew. This is the companion to the author's previous book, How to Sew a Button, a book filled with ideas and teaching from wise grandmas. Here is the link to the Public Radio author interview.

How to Build a Fire, is filled with practical information about skills grandpa learned in the era of post-depression and World War II America. Not all the grandfatherly advice is relevant to today's young guys, but it is a "collection of our grandfathers’ hard-earned wisdom," and some of it is perennial. The topics include skills such as how to:
  • buck up and be brave in the face of adversity
  • play hard and break in a baseball mitt
  • bait a hook and catch a big fish
  • look dapper and tie a perfect tie
  • get a raise and earn more
  • write a love letter and kindle romance
  • change a flat tire and save the day
  • stand up and give a sparkling toast
  • play the harmonica and make your own music
While there are other books that contain these lessons, and certainly a motivated young dude has it all at his fingertips with any search engine, I love the notion of the written transmission of knowledge from grandpa. Boys have learned at the feet of the male elders for centuries, and that's the feeling I get from this book.

Do you have a story of something your grandfather or other elder in your life taught you? Send it to me or add it to the comments of this post.

Do you have a skill you might share with some of the young dudes in your world? At almost any age, you are and elder to a boy somewhere!

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1 comment:

  1. Craig I.11:06 AM

    Sounds like a great book.

    Here’s the quote I just used to start my construction class with 8 young men:

    Heinlein - Specialization is for Insects

    A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

    -Robert A. Heinlein


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