A True Craftsman
A true famous craftsman!
My father, Horace Fish Jr., spent his entire life living in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. He got polio at the age of 19 and spent many months in the hospital. The county sent him to the Institute for the Crippled and Disabled in New York City. It was there that he learned the art of jewelry making. All work was done by hand; the only machine my father used was a machine to polish the finished product.
My father had to walk with crutches for a long time. Finally he was able to get around with a cane, special shoes, and a leg brace on one leg. Being disabled never slowed my father down. He loved to hunt and fish and was often seen riding his horse to different places around the mountains.
He worked as an elevator operator at Buck Hill Falls Inn, for a long time. Finally he got a job working in a factory. After working in the factory all day my father would often be in his little shop on the back of our house making sterling silver jewelry.
Starting with a flat sheet of sterling silver, he would use a pattern to trace what he was going to make. He used a hand saw to cut it out, filed off the sharp edges, then used a lead block, punches, and a small hammer to form the piece. He would engrave it using hand engraving tools, he would polish it, and the jewelry would be ready for sale.
My mother learned to make much of the jewelry. I often cut out many of the pieces, filed them to remove the burrs, and polished them.
My father was a heavy smoker and in 1970 died of lung cancer at the age of 59. As you can see from the photo I still have in my possession many of the pieces of jewelry that my father made in the mid 1960s, over 50 years ago. Now many pieces of jewelry are mass produced in factories. However, my father took great pride in his work and did it the way the colonial craftsmen did hundreds of years earlier.
I often look at that jewelry with tears in my eyes knowing that I was the son of a master craftsman who had many customers in the Poconos and the surrounding area.
© 2017 Larry W Fish