Some kids have no fathers. I was fortunate to have several, my own and those of close friends. The last of them, Ernie Motsinger, died this week at 93. His son, Kim, is my "blood brother".
In the 60's, "Mr. Mots" listened to my crazy ideas and helped me build things. He was my go-to guy for most things mechanical. In the war he'd been a PT boat mechanic in the South Pacific.
Years later he had his own machine shop in Hialeah. As an adult I'd visit him there amongst hulking machines that could turn metal into almost anything. He smiled a lot but seemed happiest at his shop.
In 1978 he agreed to star in my pseudo-documentary probing life's big questions. "How Do You Really Crack an Egg?" had a scene in which he studied an egg thoughtfully, drew a few sketches, then ordered his son to place it in a 20-ton hydraulic metal press.
When Kim hit the pedal it really cracked.
Mr. Motsinger did the welding on my mini-bike
and the go-cart that preceded it.
In the 80's Ernie began to build a huge sailboat inside his metal-clad kingdom. Taking his time, he completed it 12 years later but sold it soon. He found out he enjoyed building much more than sailing.
Retirement at 70 meant leaving for work a little later that usual. The strong aroma of lubricants and shaved steel were too good to pass up. He really retired at 85 when he and his son sold the business. It's a shame he can't be buried there surrounded by the tools and the smells he loved.