Tue, 02/18/2020 - 5:00pm

About this blog:

  • HOME SWEET HOME was embroidered on a framed sampler the living room at my grandpa and grandma’s farmhouse up on the mountain where we lived long ago and far from here.

    Those were the first words of wisdom I learned to read, write and understand. Looking back today, I realize how this inspiring motto guided me throughout my life’s work of building my own home . . . sweet and truly mine. That plus my collection of bumper sticker wisdom.

    I grew up, left home and explored various careers until I became qualified to teach Industrial Arts at my hometown high school. My plan to have my own home was in motion. I bought a modest little fixer upper at the edge of town. My intention was to fix it up, add an addition, live there awhile to make sure everything worked, sell it and finally start building my own home. I figured I could get most everything done during summer vacation. I was young and optimistic.

    I learned a great deal from that first building project. So much that I’ll have to tell you more.


  This is the part where I explain my concept of the Home of the Future - the home we will build at The Homestead School. What it will look like is too much to describe right here and now. It would take a whole book, probably two, to get the job done. I’ve already written one book about what the home will be like and the second is underway, so for today I want to take a side trip and talk about how my concept of the Home of the Future was developed.
My family was too poor to send me to college. I was eligible for some scholarship money but not nearly enough. I didn't really want to go to college because college would not teach me how to build Hot Rod Automobiles which, back then, was what I wanted as a career. Our excellent high school guidance counselor found some apprenticeship schools I could attend where Hot Rodding was practiced, more or less. One was with The Ford Motor Company. The other was a Machinist Apprenticeship school at United Aircraft Corporation, Pratt & Whitney division in Hartford, Connecticut. I chose Pratt & Whitney because they build Jet Engines. You might sense my logic in this.
Getting accepted into the apprenticeship was not easy. I could only apply to the school after working at the company for six months. Test after test was given to find out if I was smart enough and had an aptitude for the work. There were over 800 applicants for this school session but only 33 were accepted. 
The 6000 hour course took three years to complete. Of the 33 of us, half dropped out. This was during the Vietnam war so some were lost to the draft. I'm not sure how many made it all the way through the course to receive a Journeyman Machinist Certificate, maybe five of us. A Journeyman Machinist Certificate is the equivalent of a Bachelor of Science degree. 
My goal to learn how to build Hot Rods was fulfilled. Was it ever! Engines were my favorite component of Hot Rodding so by learning how and why Jet engines work, I had taken my Mom's advice about aiming high. And I didn’t miss. Throughout the course I helped build engines for jet planes, including the coolest Hot Rods in my view: military jets.
It got even better from there! I was chosen to work on the ultimate Hot Rods: spaceships of the Apollo Moon Missions program. Well, me and 70,000 other engineers. I won awards, medals, and bonuses for my work but the most exciting thing I remember from then is that some of the parts I machined & etched my ID number & initials onto were left on the moon and others are still floating around in space from when some of the modules, that did not crash back onto the moon, were freed to roam the universe.
I was spoiled. The Machinist Apprenticeship taught me how to design and build just about any physical thing you can think of with pure engineering logic. You can understand how critical it is that jet engines and spaceships be built with extreme precision. Every part has a purpose. The purpose of a Hot Rod is performance, and that means perfect working order and long life. 
I applied what I learned from my apprenticeship to homebuilding. The School House will be a Hot Rod.