Ok, so I’m telling you the story of my life, but I haven’t come close to explaining how I got into leatherwork. It all fits together in my mind, but in the interest of keeping on topic, I will summarize 2 years and then come back to them sometime in the future:
Following river running, I had a year of “flux”. That translates to a few jobs that were primarily to earn money so that I could travel. I also took my first chemistry class, which I barely passed and completely hated. I worked as a maintenance man at another small university and in a mail room of a hospital. I quit both of these jobs as soon as I had enough money to travel.
My main forms of travel were bicycle, bus, and hitchhiking. I took a few trips (that I’ll tell you about later) on my own to visit friends. I also rode the Lewis and Clark trail on my bike with my friend Dennis Coello, his wife Bops, and their friend Vicky. I’ll tell a lot more about that later!
After taking a year off of school and completing the Lewis and Clark trail, I matriculated in St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I never finished St. John’s, but it was one of the best educational experiences of my life. More on that later…
After my freshman year at St. John’s, I rode my bike partway to Minnesota with my friend from St. John’s, Lynn Messinger. MUCH more on Lynn later… I spent the summer in Minnesota with my high school friend, Joe Rising, and then went on a bike trip in Nova Scotia with a St. John’s friend, Rich Morehouse and his family. After Nova Scotia I rode to my grandparent’s apartment in New Haven, CT, and arrived with probably less than $10 in my (worn out) pockets. I was definitely “running on fumes”. Grandpa bought a bus ticket to New York City, where I visited my grandma. Then, a call home to dad, tail slightly between my legs, and I got a flight back to SLC, Utah.
I had already decided to take a year off from St. John’s, was completely broke, but was staying with Dad and so was not completely desperate! I needed a job but had no idea what to do. I had had fun up to then: river runner, bicycle trips, a year of college, various odd jobs, … I looked in the classified ads but didn’t see anything too exciting. So I just decided to wander around SLC to see if anything jumped out at me.
Then I saw “Tip Top Shoe Repair and Moccasin Shop”. There was no “help wanted” sign on the door, but, thinking back to my days as an ice hockey player repairing my pads, I walked in and asked the owner if he needed any help. Turns out that he did! He gave me a week trial period to see how it would work…