"He wasn't real keen about the move here. I told him we needed the space. Now we're running out of space again.
"He retired a few years after that. He still comes down and works about three days. He will be 80 in December.
"You know what my dream was when I was a kid? My parents being deaf, I always wished he could hear my voice, and I wish I could hear how he would sound. He's never heard the sound a bird makes. So many things. He has a voice. He can scream with the best of them.
"Think about it. In today's world of I-can't-do-this-or-that-because-it's-too-hard, here's a guy who got out of school with maybe the equivalent of an eighth- or ninth-grade education. They concentrated on teaching them a trade. He actually built a house. It's amazing what he's done.
"He's a big Mountaineer fan, although he's a little mad at them these days. He played all the sports in school. He wrestled, too. He wrestled a freshman from WVU and pinned him.
"I thought I was going to college, but I started doing this and I kind of liked it. I kept thinking, 'Who is going to do this for him? Who's going to go on these estimates?' And even if he finds someone, what if they cheat him?' I thought maybe later I would go to college, but I just never did.
"It's a good enough living. I'm happy. I've got so many friends who do a job that's the same thing all the time. Here, everything is different. One day, it's a little loveseat. Next day, it's a boat cover. It's interesting to me.
"When my dad was a young man working, there were lots of upholstery shops, a dozen or more. Now the trade has whittled down to a handful.
"Everybody would buy nice furniture that was worth recovering. Now we live in a throwaway society. You go buy the $499 set. It wears out, throw it away and buy another $499 set. Maybe the younger generation can't afford the high-end furniture. When he started, that was 100 percent of our business. Now furniture is only 20 or 30 percent and the marine stuff is probably 70 percent.
"Furniture is a steady trickle now. You see old pieces, heirlooms, something grandma handed down. That's the kind of things we get.
"We do work for professional people, too. Lawyers and doctors are regulars. Every professional has a waiting room with chairs. We started doing those, too. My wife, Carol, hooked up with a couple of decorators doing window treatments and furniture, and they subcontract it back out to us. So we also have that.
"Carol gets on me about working too many hours. Sometimes in the summer, for 10 or 12 weeks, I'll work 12 or 14 hours a day. Everybody wants their boat in the water right now.
"The marine stuff is almost year-round. I tell them to get it to me in the winter. That's the time to do them.
"When John Lucenti asked my dad to do boat tops, he didn't know how but he said, 'Oh, yes. I can do that.' He looked at it and learned by trial and error. We needed a different set of distributors to get things like zippers and snaps. Otherwise, the furniture in a boat is the same as furniture in a house.
"We do a lot of work in Summersville. The hard thing is trying to make covers on boats on the lake. Some boats are big and don't have trailers to bring them here, so you've got to keep measuring, back and forth, back and forth.
"I'm considering buying an old bread truck and sticking a spare machine in there and going up there and trying to do it on site.
"I bought my first boat in 1988. I've always been around boats. My dad owned a boat when he was doing work for John Lucenti. We would go fishing at Bluestone Lake.
"I have a deck boat on Summersville Lake. We leave the camper in storage up at Mountain Lake Campground. We go up and do a little work, and as soon as we get done, I buzz out on that beautiful lake and relax a little bit. That's my getaway.
"Sometimes I have to hide, but I understood that going in. They say, 'Hey, come look at this.' I say, 'We can do a little business, but don't call me off the lake.'"Reach Sandy Wells at san...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5173.