I have been employed by Vital Signs Ministries, the Christian organization that Claire and I founded back in 1983, for 38 years now. But before that I worked several other jobs. For instance, I operated a large silkscreen press to make panels for billboards; I worked on a crew hanging drywall in new subdivisions; I sold clothes in a shopping center store; and I did a little teaching of American History. However, out of all the jobs I ever had before Vital Signs Ministries, there is one that clearly stands out as my favorite and that was working at Banner Tire in south Denver.
Banner Tire was a terrific place for a young fellow to get his first experience of “real” working, (that is, besides household chores, lawn work, and neighborhood jobs) because there I learned several skills and was exposed to people of varied races and ages and occupations. But it also gave me the positive influence of great mentors, most notably my own dad, who managed the operation. Banner was a lot of things – a Conoco filling station, tire store, three-bay garage, tow trucks, and a bulk plant with gasoline that we redistributed to other gas stations and even some of the ranches east of Denver. It was a very happening place.
My contributions were modest. Pumping gas. Changing oil and tires. Lube jobs. Driving the truck to get auto parts and tires. Selling oil, STP, headlamps, and filters. And, of course, sweeping up. It was my first “grownup job” and I had the time of my life.
Best of all, working at Banner Tire allowed me to see my dad in a whole different light. As the Dad at home, he was a super guy. But as the Dad at work, I was able to appreciate even more his knowledge and craftsmanship, his work ethic and habits, his remarkable friendliness and social skills, and the deep affection and admiration he won from customers, colleagues, and neighborhood folks.
I was sometimes called “Little Al” in my days at Banner Tire because I began my job there wearing Dad’s old Conoco shirt with “Al” emblazoned above the pocket. But I was pleased that even after I started wearing my own uniform shirts, the name tended to stick with some of the people who dropped in. I can honestly tell you that I never bore a more honorable title.
The photo I print at the left dates from about that time and you can see my Dad and me standing next to my first car, a ’53 Chevy. Both this photo and my telling you about Banner Tire brings back some of the sweetest memories of my life. Therefore, I hope they stimulate a few memories of your own.
"Memory is the treasury and guardian of all things." (Cicero)