Creative gifts from my father, part 3…

The desire to teach was strong in my father—it has always been strong within me, too. I always knew that, were I to become a teacher, I would forever garner my father’s respect. Probably more so than anything else I could have done.

My father always talked about his desire to teach, and honestly I don’t know why he didn’t pursue it further. Perhaps the details of his professional life kept him so busy he couldn’t make the time. I know that a teacher’s compensation was not an attractive prospect. I guess Dad channeled his “inner teacher” to the work he did for a number of years as teacher of his Sunday school class. His lessons were always well attended, and many said they’d just as soon stay home in bed on Sunday morning if he wasn’t teaching.

Until discovering my father’s zippered portfolio case [mentioned in part 2 of this series], I didn’t know that he had ever taught any aspect of architecture. That is, I didn’t know he had ever worked as an instructor for an educational institution. I did know that he had successfully mentored countless young architects throughout his professional career.

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It turns out, after his graduation from college, he taught for a few years as an instructor in the evening school of South Plains College in Levelland, Texas, around 1958-59. This would have been just after completion of his three years of apprentice work, requisite for licensure as an architect, with the firm of Brasher & Goyette, in Lubbock, Texas. I’m sure this moonlighting brought a few extra dollars to our family’s purse with this work.

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He taught the course listed above to students as pictured below… mostly “non-traditional” students, mature and taking evening courses because they worked full time in the days.

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Photo from the course bulletin of South Plains College, 1958-1959.

Among his papers are these wonderful “handouts,” he prepared for his students. First an illustration of details for the drafting of masonry details:

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Most interesting to me are the example pages he prepared for the topic of penmanship for architects. My father was an excellent penman, and had print and cursive writing that was the envy of many!  This is something he definitely passed to me—an interest and a love of all things calligraphed and of typography and alphabets.

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And finally, with this next one a little more than just an alphabetic example, but some encouragement to persevere, as well!

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My father practiced architecture, literally, for more than 60 years. He finally retired from practice with a firm in 2009 at age 81. That didn’t mean he retired from architecture, though. He was still engaged in architectural projects until just before his death this past November.

In 2011, then aged 83, he designed my new studio for me. As you can see, from this detail of studio plans, his hand was just as steady as ever, and his attention to detail was sharp.

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In his later years his desire to teach—to pass on, even a little of, what he knew was just as strong as it ever was.

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Dad explains how he rendered plans in “architectural scale,” and how to use a scale ruler to my son, Paul.

Oh, and I guess I also inherited a tendency from my father to choose cotton lawn shirts with cool geometric patterns…

More to follow…

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3 Responses

  1. I believe that there might have been another reason why Dad preferred hand-written letters to emails: his lifelong love of fountain pens. I don’t believe I ever saw him write with anything other than a fountain pen. It’s obvious that you can’t make an email look like it was written with a fountain pen, but it was easy to tell that his hand-written letters, of which I still have several, were written with a fountain pen because you could tell by looking at the strokes. He even had “throwaway” fountain pens – I didn’t even know they made such a thing.

  2. Love hearing about your dad and his architectural adventures. I often think I should have been one. I particularly appreciate your many images that aptly illustrate exactly what you are describing!

  3. Tom Davis says:

    Perhaps not many knew of Tom’s affinity for “snail mail”. He shunned the use of the more structured email so that he could personalize each of his missives with his flowing cursive style. Over the years he shamed me into following his lead, and as we continued to exchange writings until the very end, his hand remained steady, deliberate and exemplary.
    An architect by training and practice; an artist by intuition, and a gentleman indeed.

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