SUNNY CAL JOURNAL - Giff's Labors, The Sweat Of Thy Brow

By Bob Weaver/ Published 2001

"The happiness in men consists in life, and life is in labor." - Tolstoy

"The real measure of the exchangeable value of all commodities." - Adam Smith

"The common burden of our race." - A. Lincoln

"In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, til thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken." Genesis

"The capital of our workingmen." - Grover Cleveland


It has been nearly two years since by dad Giff died. With him died some concern about the labors of my own life, that I never had a "real job" and did not "labor."

To labor was to sweat and flex muscle, sufficient hours each day to qualify as a workingman, he believed.

His stories of work abounded, long hours, days at a time, fighting deep winter snows for the State Road, or digging with picks and shovels underneath roadways, and climbing up steep mountains laying pipeline.

The labor of survival on the WPA, knapping rock into the roadbeds of Calhoun during The Great Depression, earning a few survival dollars each week to stave starvation.

He would walk to a WPA job to Grantsville during the depression by foot, a 20 mile trek from the Village of Hur.

He was a history expert on The Great Depression.

He suffered through various firings at the old State Road Commission when state politicos changed, perhaps his most difficult times, at least once collapsing into a serious depression.

He just wanted to work.

Labor was a task to be performed erect and sturdy, not sitting in a chair or staring at the ceiling behind a desk or in front of a computer.

Not until the days of illness before his death, would he recline on a couch or bed during daylight hours. He was known to nap sitting in a chair, one eye open.

It was by the sweat of thy brow that one earns their keep. That was what Giff believed.

When I would try to explain how much mental energy I dispensed from my "wealth of knowledge" each day in worldly jobs, he would quietly grumble.

Despite a couple of long careers, I never had a "real job."

It was on common ground we stood, as father and son, supporting one another in the challenges of life.

The day he died at 87, he said "I don't want to get down on that (ambulance) cot again, I would rather just sit here and go away."

"I'm ready to go," he said, holding close his Christian beliefs.

Giff was proud of his labor and his family.

He was a wonderful father, who faced life on life's terms, but could laugh and story tell with the best of them.

A better man to which I only strive.