Though I share much with you, there is a distinct difference in our paths. Whereas most of you are involved with farming as a primary business, the Bohacz Family was not blessed with enough ground to make that a reality. Thus, I always worked off the farm too. That did not make me any less passionate or insulated from the trials and tears feeding the world delivers, but instead, put a longing in my heart to be one with the land and not with the town.
Often, you must leave to find your way back home.
Making a living away from the farm is nowhere near as glamorous or secure as it appears from the seat of a tractor. Simply put, you trade one set of problems for another. As a young boy, I was blessed with a wonderful mother that taught me many things that I will carry with me to the end of my days.
One of those was SPS: Self-Praise Stinks. She wanted me to be the best I can be at whatever I did, but to also remain humble.
In the old days, it was honorable to be humble. I still go by that edict even though the world is now full of those who falsely pump themselves up to get ahead. On my desk, I have a saying. It states, “If you put the Lord first, all things will fall into their proper place or drop out of your life.”
I must be a little on the slow side since I have learned that lesson the hard way many, many times.
Being a mechanic, I am always trying to fix what is broken, in both the literal and metaphoric sense. But some things can’t be fixed unless the unseen hand of our Lord is guiding the path. I have come to recognize that God gifts everyone with time, talent, and treasures, though not in equal amounts.
The ‘time’ means being our days on Earth. The talents our God-given abilities and the treasures, what we have. Most think of treasures as earthly possessions. In some instances, they are, but that is not always the case.
More importantly, it is how you use the treasure of time and talent in your possession.
I hesitate to tell you about me since that may be perceived as bragging. Thus, I reluctantly share this story with you. Though my account takes place in a race engine shop, life could very easily write the same story on a farm or ranch.
The script has only two cast members: Joseph Fenske and Sharon Hammond.
I met Joey when he attended a seminar on electronic fuel injection I was teaching. I do not remember him being in the class. About a year later, he walked into my shop, asking for a job. He had tried to locate me for that entire time. He was working in a gas station and wanted to learn more about cars and engines while attending the Teterboro School of Aeronautics, to become an aircraft mechanic. This kid embodied what America is about.
He is honest, smart, hard-working, wanted to do his best, and never looked at the clock. He would go to school all day and then come to my shop and work with all his heart and go home and study. The next day he did it all over again. He graduated from the aviation school with the highest honor, the top of his class.
Much to my dismay, he chose to stay on with me instead of going to work on airplanes. I told him that I believed it was a mistake, and he would have a better future in aviation then with a small race engine shop.
He did not listen. During his tenure, I would have talks with him as if he were my younger brother. Joey was so talented and smart that I did not want him to waste his life working with me. I convinced him to go back to school to get an engineering degree. I gave him my old S-10 to visit The Kettering Institute in Flint, Michigan (the former General Motors Institute).
He came back all pumped-up. Due to family constraints, Joey did not attend the Kettering Institute but enrolled locally in NJIT studying electrical engineering. He went to school and worked at my shop.
Sharon Hammond was a shy girl that needed a job, and I required someone to answer the phones and run my office. Little did I know how shy she was. The first time I told her to call a supplier in California, unbeknownst to me, she was so frightened she called her mother to ask what to do. Sharon told me about that years later, and we both laughed until we cried. As dedicated, smart, loyal, and enthusiastic as Joey was in the shop, Sharon was in the office.
These two young kids became the cornerstone of my business and the most trusted employees that anyone could ever ask for. I was blessed to have them walk through my front door. In the manner that I encouraged Joey; I did the same for Sharon. I wanted her to go back to school and get an education and make more of her life than I could offer.
In 1996 due to a confluence of events, I had to close my business and sell the equipment. Sharon and Joey stayed with me until I gave the key back to the landlord. They never left my side.
Now for the rest of the story:
Joey graduated with honors with an electrical engineering degree and worked successfully in the field until he decided to go back to school and become a patent attorney. I am proud to say that like everything else Joey does, it was done with excellence. The kid that built his first motor in my shop (a 302 Ford) is now a well-respected attorney that can port a cylinder head, degree a cam, weld, and file fit rings with the best of them.
Sharon and I lost touch for a few years, but then she sent me a beautiful hand-written letter, thanking me for the years we worked together. She went to college and earned an excellent job as the executive assistant to the president of a major pharmaceutical company. Sharon wrote that she learned more from the engine shop then while earning a master’s degree.
She made it clear that I was the catalyst for her success. Tears rolled from my eyes when I read her words.
Just recently, someone asked me what I was the proudest of. Sadly, I was queried on things of this world.
I told them it is Sharon and Joey.