Howdy, Neighbor. People have been telling Phil he’s a good storyteller for a long time… so we are trying something new and pretty-much non-sales Just sharing occasional sweet stories, tall tales, and life lessons learned around these parts.
Northwoods Notes are a new, semi-bi-irregular peek into the heart and mind of Phil Frasier… you can read or listen… whichever you prefer… and you are receiving a copy because you’re a current customer of Frasier’s Plumbing and Heating, Inc. We think you’ll like them, but you can unsubscribe any time by clicking on the link at the bottom. But we hope you give us a chance!
My great-grandfather George did all the plumbing at Abel’s Studebaker Shop.
In exchange for the plumbing work, Abel’s gave my great grandfather a motorized vehicle.
That may not sound like much to you, but up to that point, he’d only ever had a horse and buggy.
He and that horse would walk from job to job with their leather satchels, pipe wrenches, wheelbarrow, and lead and oakum.
Thanks to Abel’s Studebaker Shop, my great-grandpa George had the very first motorized plumbing vehicle in northern Wisconsin.
I have a letter that shows the city of Rhinelander paid my great grandfather 23 cents a foot to put in the first-ever water and sewer lines on Eagle Street. That included all of the materials and the labor, which was dug by hand, six-feet deep. Now, if he had to use dynamite to blast some boulders out, well, there would be an extra charge.
In 1958, my grandfather bought Abel’s Studebaker Shop. And that building at 310 North Brown Street became the new home of Frasier’s Plumbing, Heating and Cooling. It still is today.
Yeah, I grew up in that building.
I can remember the various names and faces who have worked there throughout the years.
I remember the basement had a particular smell. It wasn’t bad. But it wasn’t perfume and roses, either. It was the smell of work. To this day, when I smell the distinct odor of oil or cut pipe, I’m suddenly five years old again.
The manliest men I ever knew would spend hours in that basement, hand threading and reaming pipe, cutting and bending of huge pieces of sheet metal.
Call me crazy, but I love the smell of cutting and threading pipe.
I spent a lot of my childhood in that building. Now my grandkids get to experience the sights, sounds and smells for themselves.
These trips down memory lane remind me of the hard work that went into building and maintaining a generational business.
Great-grandpa George would think what we do today is nuts. We’ve come a long way from digging by hand. And I remember my dad’s reaction when they introduced PVC pipe. You would’ve thought the world had ended.
If these walls could talk, I don’t think I’d ever leave this building. I’d sit and listen to thousands of conversations. These are the words that built our business. They made us who we are… and they remind us every day where we came from.
We can learn so much from generations that came before us. Good and bad.
They may not know it, but they taught me more through their mistakes than they did from their victories.
And it all started with great-grandpa George.
Speaking of generations, my grandson Ewen turns 10 today.
Who knows… maybe he’ll be telling you some good stories about ol’ Grandpa Phil someday.
Take care neighbor. Take good care.
Oh, and P.S. – In 1929, a Studebaker President Eight Roadster retailed for 1,895 dollars. That’s a lot of pipe at 23 cents a foot.
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