Jet Fuel – A to Z Blog Challenge

My father passed away from cancer in ’94. I was 14 years old. He was one of the smartest people on earth, and I’m not just saying that because he was my father and every kid thinks that, except for mine. He really was. If there was something he didn’t know, he’d most likely heard something about it and had a good idea of where to find the information, which he would do, and get back to you in a few days. This was before the Internet of course.

He worked for the MIT Magnet lab as a technician, and he’d take me into “The Lab” every now and then on weekends. He’d set up at his bench, and explain to me that I had to keep it clean, cause he ate his lunch right off of it.

He’d set me up with wire, magnets and a soldering iron, and I’d twist wires up and solder them to other wires and such. Sometimes he’d give me a motor he had laying around, and let me take it apart. I’d leave the parts in a pile that he’d reassemble some other time. Other times, we’d go down to the loading areas, and he’d lift me into the air on a fork lift.

He had a magnet that had an on / off switch, and he’d set me up with a bucket of nuts and bolts, that I’d stack high on the magnet, and then I would turn off the magnet, and let the nuts and bolts all fall to the floor, which of course, I cleaned up and sorted back into the right containers.

When I got a little bit older, he let me play on the metal lathe. …and by “a little older” I’m talking like 6 or 8 or so… and I’d make little more than piles of metal shavings. Sometimes he and his coworkers, who happened to be around on a weekend would dunk things like leaves and apples into the liquid nitrogen, all for my own amusement.

We used to have long talks about things like organizations, and systems, and cycles, and Mr. Wizard types of things, like electrocuting hot-dogs and such. One day I was sitting in the car with him and we were heading down Memorial Drive in Cambridge MA heading somewhere I don’t really recall. I remember sitting in the front seat, no seat belt cause that’s how we rolled in the 80s, thinking about how we had these talks all the time. I think I enjoyed listening to him talk, more than I really enjoyed listening. I started thinking about all the different things he’d known and explained to me, and I tried to think of something that he might not know.

“What’s in Jet Fuel?” I asked.

And son of a bitch, he knew everything about it. He spent the next thirty or so minutes telling me about the different kinds of jet fuel and how it changed over the years, and how it came from whatever side of the earth it came from and why it burnt the way it did and how it was stored, and how it was transported and how some jets were refueled while in the air, and on and on… I remember shaking my head and rolling my eyes to myself. What could have possibly made me think I could find something my father didn’t know about.

I sometimes think about how the tables would have been turned now that I’m a computer geek. I finally have something I could lecture him about! Alas, I’m about 20 years too late.


17 thoughts on “Jet Fuel – A to Z Blog Challenge

  1. Isn’t it strange how thinking of a letter in the alphabet can inspire us to weave out memories like these? Touching post on your father, thanks for sharing these memories.

  2. Your Dad sounds like a really cool person.. I don’t think my Dad would have let me mess around his workplace..Although he is kinda like your Dad as well. He knows EVERYTHING!!! It can be quite annoying sometimes.. 😐 But it’s really cool as well.. 😀 :DI liked this post… 🙂 🙂PencilGirl@Conquering the World

  3. Thanks Matt.I didn’t know my father, but that wasn’t his fault. I can only dream about what kind of relationship we’d have had. Posts like yours make those dreams almost idyllic.Not that there was anything wrong with the relationship I had with my stepdad, particularly when I reached adulthood and understood more.

  4. “This was before the Internet of course.”You know, having been immersed in the Internet for over 10 years now, I can’t even comprehend how someone can be so well-rounded in knowledge without it. Seriously. That takes real talent… a lot more talent than whipping out Wikipedia on your phone.

  5. Your Dad was Cool. Capital ‘C’ Cool. As a preschool teacher, I can only marvel at all the things you were exposed to, and got to explore, that aid greatly in pre-math skills and science and…just so much!Wow, you’re a very fortunate man to have had a dad who would talk to you and let you play like that. Fantastic post honoring him 🙂

  6. Thanks all. 🙂 He was definitely an interesting character, I wish I had gotten to know him as an adult. I’m told often that I’m a lot like him, and I derive some measure of comfort in that. I wish I had half the stuff he had to entertain my own kids though. I’m just a computer geek. And from everything I know about on the internet, I’d rather keep them off! 😀

  7. You had the coolest dad ever!!! (Sorry Pops, you were great but not cool.) What an incredable memory to share. Isn’t is weird how the strangest things make it into our long term memory?

  8. I’m sorry to hear that you lost him at such a young age, but it sounds like you created some great memories with him. Knowing you though, it’s no surprise you came from such a bright Dad. The apple didn’t fall that far from the tree, methinks 🙂 Great story, Matt. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Great memories.. too bad your dad isn’t still around for you though.My dad is still around but… he has early onset dementia so we can’t have those kind of conversations either 😦

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