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  • Getting materials to a job site is a community effort.
    In Manhattan the trucks often arrive at lunchtime so everyone rushes to help form a human chain, unload the truck and get back to their sandwiches.
    Building inspectors appear out of nowhere if materials linger on a sidewalk.
    One delivery the boards were so long that they stuck up through the roof of the elevator and we had to cut them to size, with a jigsaw, to get them around the bend in the hall.
    “Just have them gone when I come back in an hour,” the inspector said.

    Getting materials out to an island involves an extra layer of complication. Landing on the beach and unloading a boat, you end up handling everything many times.

    The summer we built our small cabin we had work at a neighbors place and helped with deliveries.
    Red drove the supply boat for some of the deliveries. We made a long chain along the beach handing things off the stern and up the beach. Red showed us all up when he slung three bundles of shingles on to his shoulder and marched forward looking to kick down the gates of hell.
    But the thing was that to him we almost were not there. He hoisted the weight without looking at us. Half the crew was women, and all of the guys were slim and most all from ‘away.’
    His eight-year-old son strode behind him in high boots carrying on a dialogue not to anyone in particular, I caught snatches of it as they blew down the breeze along the beach “…he don’t know nuthin about boats…”

    We learn a lot about life early on and form ideas about the world and people even as we learn to walk and speak. What we learn is how we think.

    That could have been me he was talking about. I knew how to row a boat, and drive a boat, but in the eyes of a boating and fishing community I did not know nuthin.

    I was several years out of art school where we had four years of studio courses. Life drawing, sculpture, design, painting and then the University classes of History, Literature, writing and I excelled at this, in the world of the intellect. I knew something about a lot of things but that did not count in this world. I had moved to New York City and was living between Greenwich Village and West SoHo, and I knew something about that, but that counted as a strike against me in this world.

    As a manager on my first big project in New York, when I was thirty, I often stayed after the crew left and took care of loose ends.
    One night the son of the owner came in, he was around seven or eight years old, with his mother looking around. He came into the room where I was and began to go through our supplies.
    “Alex, you need to leave the tools alone,” I told him.
    “I’m the boss here,” he said. “My father said when he is not here I am in charge.”
    His mother came in and took him away.
    “I’m sorry,” she said. “I am embarrassed.”

    I would like to make a neat point about the women’s world being the salvation of the macho world of man. But that would not be true.
    I want to think that awareness of thought and action is enough to make a change in how people think and act toward one another. But that is not always true either.
    Time will grind all of this down and change will come from so many directions that cause and effect can no longer claim authorship.
    Time, personified as old age will beat down the doors of macho and sling us all, casually, over it’s shoulder, march us across the beach, without looking at us, and then kick down the gates of hell.
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