As I described earlier, in 1981 I moved to Santa Fe with Katherine so that I could continue my college education at St. John’s. I had completed one year of St. John’s in 1979 before taking a year off to ride my bicycle and work in Tip Top Shoe Repair.
During my second year at St. John’s, I worked in Square Deal Shoe Shop, and Katherine and I were good at dreaming about a life in the woods together. I loved shoe repair and boot making (though I was never great at boot making…), but one day I learned about a saddle maker just north of Santa Fe who took apprentices.
The pull of my dreams of cabins in the woods with my wife and the possibility of working in a saddle shop were just too strong, and I once again dropped out of St. John’s College. I need to stress here that St. John’s was probably the best educational experience I’ve ever had, and in many ways I still regret not finishing all 4 years there. However, at the time it was a “no brainer” for me to take more time off.
A bunch of things happened, all of which need some time to develop in future posts:
*With a little money that was left to me to pay for college by a great aunt, Katherine and I bought an acre of land in a small private section of the Santa Fe National Forest. This land had no structure, electricity or water, and neither of us had ever built anything bigger than a bookshelf (with cinderblocks…!).
*Katherine and I sold and gave away most of our stuff, got a big tent, my Dad’s 4 wheel drive Scout, and my dog Fydor from Salt Lake City (I found Fydor as a stray outside of Tip Top Shoe Repair). We moved to the land and completely abandoned any apartment or other house in town.
*I started my apprenticeship with Mr. Ginder, the saddle maker. Mr. Ginder normally charged $10/day for lessons, but we traded repair work for lessons and called it even. We continued this relationship for about 1 year, and the remaining part of my college money was used to purchase tools and equipment from Mr. Ginder.
*Katherine and I realized that we were pretty far into it, and we decided to make it formal. We got married on Aug 5, 1982. I was 22 and she was 20.
The timing of this post is perfect, because our younger daughter Maddy just got married last week to Steve. The wedding was fantastic, and I made them the leather box shown above as a gift. I couldn’t have done that without Mr. Ginder. More later…