My grandfather had impossibly strong hands, the hands of a man who built things. He used his skills to found a construction company-turned-hardware and home store in the city where I grew up.
Successful for decades, the business had slowed and he was scaling back by the time I turned 14. But as soon as I did, my grandmother brought me to City Hall to obtain a Massachusetts work permit and I started my first job in his hardware store.
In my four years there, I learned a lot of useful stuff: How to interact with customers, mind a register, safely wield a packing knife and make keys. All handy skills, but decades later I am most grateful for that time spent shoulder to shoulder with my grandfather. Both he and the store are gone now, but I’ll never, ever part with this T-shirt.
Originally posted on The Kojo Nnamdi Show Blog on occasion of the Worn Stories segment, available here: http://thekojonnamdishow.org/shows/2015-01-29/worn_stories_sartorial_memoirs