Tuesday, December 8, 2020
Grandma’s house was a great place to explore. The attic wasn’t the only part of the house that captured my interest. The basement also provided many attractions. It was an unfinished basement, with only one room partitioned off. More about that tomorrow.
I went exploring the basement the day after I had been in the attic. The rest of the basement was unfinished, and served as the storage room, furnace room, and laundry room.
Grandma’s laundry machines fascinated me, especially the dryer. It was natural gas. When it was running there was a small window on the front through which I could see the blue flame which provided the heat for drying. My mind began to evaluate how a fire could be inside the dryer and not ignite the clothing. All I could imagine was burning clothes.
Since childhood I have been fascinated by fire. I blame it on genetics. My dad and his twin brother burned down their garage with a new car in it when they were the same age I was in these stories.
Earlier that summer, before we got to Cleveland, I had been conducting science experiments in my bedroom to test the flammability of various materials. I discovered that lace curtains go up in flame very quickly. My curiosity cost me an afternoon confined to my room to consider the dangers of fire and embrace the smell of smoke. If only I could figure out how to conduct my science experiments with the level of safety built into the dryer.
I have always been fascinated with how things work. Taking things apart just to learn how they functioned and then put them back together occupied a lot of my time. This day, I was so deeply engrossed in watching the flame and trying to imagine how it worked that I didn’t hear my grandfather come down the stairs. I jumped when he touched me on the shoulder.
My grandfather was brilliant. He had worked for Thomas Edison as an electrical engineer. Cleveland was the first city in the nation to get streetlamps. My grandpa didn’t have anything to do with that, but he later worked for the Edison Electric company that managed the electric infrastructure of the city. He knew how stuff worked.
Having observed my fascination with the fire in the dryer, he asked me if I wanted to know how it worked. I quickly told him I did, and he fed my natural curiosity to know details. I was told about closed combustion chambers and exhaust venting and heat circulating fans. I asked lots of questions, and grandpa patiently answered them all.
Grandpa filled my head with facts beyond my years of understanding. He was passing on to me the heritage of knowledge and the passion to learn. He knew the best way to help me learn was to challenge me beyond my capabilities. He did not oversimplify anything.
I am convinced that my love for learning came from him. I am also convinced that my love for learning motivated my study of God’s Word. It is why when I preach and teach I don’t oversimplify, but use the big words to express the deep truths. It is intended to challenge you to become a student of the Scriptures.