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It was a happy occasion on Sunday, Harold’s wedding, his third I think, and they say “third times the charm”, I hope so for Harold and get the impression Cindy is a charming woman. Harold’s a great guy, thoughtful with his heart in the right place, I feel honored that I’m one of the few people from work that he chose to invite. Harold and I kind of grew up together in the business, when I was moving out of the service department in the early 1980’s I suggested Harold take my place working at the service counter. At the time he was the Used Car Department’s porter, that’s the guy who does everything nobody else wants to do, from washing cars to shoveling snow. He worked out well and eventually became the service manager, he has mentioned many times that he looks to me as a role model on how to do things the right way, I’m sure that’s partially buttering up the boss but Harold wouldn’t say something if he didn’t mean it to some degree.

The wedding reception was held on the Princess Wenonah, an old car ferry converted to a party boat that also gives historical tours on the Saginaw River. From the dock downtown we went out to the bay and back which takes four hours. I was happy to spend some non-work time with Randy and his wife Diane and their son Jason and his fiancée Holly. In recent years I have been removed from experiencing first hand the daily activities in the service department and would just see Randy mostly in passing. Alan who has worked at the dealership for 46 years was there also with his wife, he’s in the same area as I at work. My wife did not attend, we were also invited to the wedding of Susan who she went to college with getting their masters degrees. Janet mentioned that they had gone through so much together that she had to be there, and we agreed that my time with some important people in my life was needed also, so we went our separate ways. In thinking about it people probably spend more time with there work families than with their home families, both are very important and emotional areas of ones life.


It was good to spend some fun time with everyone, but on the two hour trip back to town I spent the majority of that time by myself on the bow of the boat just watching the passing river bank. There’s a lot of history on the Saginaw, an ancient Indian burial ground is near the old Fletcher Oil Co. property, which for the most part is now abandoned with rusting old machinery and equipment. Further down the river on the other side was the Defoe Shipbuilding Co. that built ships for the US Navy and also built the yacht used by Presidents Kennedy & Eisenhower.


We pass through two old railroad bridges, the smell from the old oil soaked wood reminds me of a coal yard that was near my house just on the other side of the railroad tracks, it had the same smell, like that of diesel fuel. The tree and brush lined river bank areas remind me of the countless hours spent as a child playing in the similar areas that were by my house. I grew up in a house that was one block from the river on one side and about 100 feet from railroad tracks on the other, I can still be lulled to sleep by a freight train rumbling by or a freighter horn blowing.


As the waters rush by I’m reminded of the lumbering industry that thrived here 150 years ago, sawmills lined the banks where now are condos in the downtown area, condos in converted industrial warehouses from the time after the lumbering era. On our journey three drawbridges open and close for us, we go a little south of the docking area to turn around next to the property that once housed Industrial Brownhoist. IB manufactured large cranes that sold world wide, cranes that would work in major sea ports and at construction sites around the globe. The sunset glistened on the broken windows of the abandoned buildings and in the distance beyond the vacant property I noticed the bright white light of our product sign rising above the abandonment, it gave me a sinking feeling to know that it would soon go dark in the days ahead.


My concentration was broken as I was summoned to the back of the boat by Diane who said they needed me back there. All the Dunlop people who attended were on the dance floor taking pictures, they needed me to complete it. Everyone posing with arms around each other, Jason gave me a big hug as he did at work the day he came in to say goodbye with tears in his eyes. After the group picture Jason said he wanted a picture of me with the “last father & son team”, referring to a conversation we had the week before, Randy joined us.

When leaving the boat one of the wedding guests said to me “it’s kind of like losing your family, isn’t it?” … I said yes, but thought it isn’t “like” losing your family, it is losing your family … your work family.


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