Grandma and Grandpa actually lived in a little town named Sebring, Ohio which is right next to Alliance, Ohio and is “out in the country” compared to Alliance’s more urban setting. When I stayed with them I used to wander all over the area. Sometimes I would follow the railroad tracks for a mile or two and other times I would just meander from one little homestead to the next, just talking to people and generally making a nuisance of myself. Back in those wonderful days of the 1950s, no one really minded if some kid stopped by and visited even if they were actually trying to get some chore or the other completed. When they got tired of the “kid”, they would just tell me to run along and I would wander to the next place where I saw some adult doing something and would stop visit him or her. In all my travels I probably never ventured more than a mile or two from my grandparent’s home.
One thing I noticed during my sojourns was that all the driveways and private lanes were covered with some white stuff rather than gravel or blacktop. It was even the toping for paths and sidewalks. The more I explored the more of this strange stuff I would find. It was everywhere. I decided to ask grandpa, who knew everything, what this strange stuff was and why it was everywhere one looked.
I was never sure what grandpa actually did for a job because he did not work all the time. I later found out that he only worked part time because of some health problems but was considered a full time employee and got paid all the time just as if he was at work. It was decades later that I found out why a company would make a deal like that with an employee.
One evening I asked grandpa about the white stuff I had discovered everywhere. I was right, he had the answer. The place where grandpa worked was the American Limoges China Company. The company made fine china and ceramics. Grandpa was the mold superintendent. He worked with the designers, and even did some of the ceramic designs himself, and once the design was complete he would make the master and the master mold. The production quantity was set prior to the production actually starting and when that quantity was met, the molds, master and working molds, would be destroyed so no more of that item could be produced. I also found out that a new master mold could not be made that would be the same as the original. In some cases as few as fifty pieces of a certain design would be produced. My grandpa actually designed a series of wild animal ceramic pieces and after almost a year’s work, only five hundred of each piece was to be produced. The reason for limited production of most items was to make them more valuable.
As the molds and any flawed production pieces were destroyed, they were put into large bins and anyone could take as much as they wanted. It turns out that the material that was disposed of by the company made great cover for dirt driveways and lanes. It also worked well on paths and, when tamped down, also made great sidewalks. So the mystery was solved and I knew why everyone had this strange stuff all over the place.
Grandpa went on to tell me that the company got the idea from God. He told me that God always has production runs of only one, then the mold is destroyed so that there can be only one of each of us. I think that sometimes grandpa was glad that God made only one of me. He and my grandmother on my father’s side always said I had more questions than a hundred boys combined. In that respect, if you ask my wife, I guess I have not changed. I have spent my entire life questioning everything. Sometimes when I can’t find the answer to a question anywhere else, I go to the ultimate source, God. Sometimes I can almost hear him asking “don’t you ever stop”, just like my grandparents, parents, and wives. I always remind God that it was him that made me the way I am and that I know he loves my questions, no matter how many there are.
Peace and Love