Sir Ron Tatman

We just wrapped up three classes in four weeks. I was pretty busy during that stretch and just couldn’t take time to sit down and write. However, I do have a nice story to tell. Sir Ron Tatman just returned from a year serving a year in Iraq. He returned so recently he still has sand in his ears.   As soon as he got back he emailed to ask if he could decompress by helping out at The Institute. I told him we would be delighted to have him work with us to teach the October 5 sack back.  Sir Ron has taken sack back with each of his daughters.  So, I knew he was capable and would be a big help.

Sir Ron spent the week with us while his wife Jill studied. Jill is working on her Master’s degree in nursing.  We have enough faith in Sir Ron’s abilities that we invited him to teach a demo.  He did  the final assembly in legging up our class chair; drilling the leg holes and wedging.  Ron loved the experience so, we had him mount the arm rail as well. We did the joinery, while Sir Ron again did the final assembly and wedging.


Friday, when it came time to mount the bow, I realized that if we had Sir Ron do the final assembly in this last stage, he would have put together the entire chair.  That’s what we did. Fred drilled the bow holes in the arm. Don shaped the bow ends and fitted them. I drilled the holes. Ron put on the bow.  

Before graduation I took the chair out to the bending area and wrote a message on the bottom of the seat expressing the staff’s gratitude to Ron for his help with the class and for his service to our country. One at a time Fred and Don snuck out to sign the chair as well. At graduation we gave the chair to Sir Ron.  He got a little misty eyed.


* * * *


It’s been a while we since I posted a good chairmaker joke.  This one is courtesy of Ron Davis.  

His Grace Don Harper is a retired physics teacher and a pretty bright guy. He was driving home one night after a long day of teaching at The Windsor Institute.  The weather was warm, so His Grace had driven his Model A to work. As he putt-putted through town he got the idea to stop at the 401 Tavern. This new establishment  bought out Widow Fletcher’s last winter and His Grace had heard that the new owners had expanded the menu. He was also curious as to whether the 401 would continue to serve the best martini in town. After all, Mike Dunbar had given his secret martini recipe to Widow Fletcher’s and in gratitude the restaurant had named the drink the “Windsor Chair.”


His Grace was pleased to discover that the new establishment had retained Widow’s distinctive interior. He sat at the bar expecting his old friend Lenny the bartender to greet him. He was surprised when a robot bartender came over and asked if it could take his order.  Doubting the robot’s abilities His Grace specified, “A Bombay martini, straight up, three olives, please. Neither stirred nor shaken, but swirled.” He sipped the colorless, but flavor filled liquid. He savored the fragrant taste of juniper berry. He let it linger on his tongue and relished how the flavor was punctuated by the slight saltiness contributed by three crisp queen-sized olives. He though to himself, this martini is as good as, if not a bit better than Mike Dunbar could make.


The robot struck up a conversation. “So, what’s your IQ?” it asked Don.


His Grace was surprised by the question and so answered honestly, “On hundred and sixty-seven.” The robot paused a moment while a row of small red and yellow lights flashed randomly.  The robot then began a long and enjoyable conversation with Don about String Theory, quarks, and cold fusion. When they were done Don left. On the way home he reflected on how good the martini had been and how much he had enjoyed the conversation. However, he was curious why the robot asked him his IQ.


Driving through the center of Hampton the next night, His Grace decided to see if that martini had been a fluke. Was it possible that robot could make another as good as the first? “A Bombay martini, straight up, three olives, please. Neither stirred nor shaken, but swirled,” Don requested. Yes, oh yes. It was just like yesterday’s. 


Just like yesterday the robot began the conversation by asking “So, what’s your IQ?”


This time Don decided to try an experiment. “One hundred and thirty eight,” he answered. Small red and yellow lights flashed. Don decided the robot was changing its programming. The robot then began a long and enjoyable conversation about the stock market, politics, and Faulkner novels.


The third evening Don stopped by the 401 yet again. As he had done the two previous nights he ordered, “A Bombay martini, straight up, three olives, please. Neither stirred nor shaken, but swirled.”


After allowing Don to taste the martini the robot asked. “So, what’s your IQ?”


Don decided to continue experimenting with the robot’s programming. “One hundred and one,” he answered. Lights flashed randomly once again. Then, the robot began a lively conversation about football, NASCAR, and Miss April in the recent Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. The two gave each other lots of high fives and knuckle bumps.


The next night Don went into the tavern for another martini. “A Bombay martini, straight up, three olives, please. Neither stirred nor shaken, but swirled,” he instructed the robot.


After Don took his first sip the robot again asked, “So, what’s your IQ?”


“Sixty-seven,” Don answered with a sly smile, curious to see how the robot would respond.


Once again the small lights flashed rapidly on and off. Then, the robot asked, “So, how long have you been a Shaker chairmaker?”


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