The fifth Frederick Hahne in a row, little Freddy Hahne was born to a line of hard working, hard drinking Germans including the saintly but irreverent Grace who married the fourth Frederick whose avocation was steel. Steel mills are huge, noisy, dangerous, dirty places. Making steel requires intense discipline not only of process but of human will. Big Fred's skill was in manufacturing specialty alloy steel using a cold rolling process ending with the steel being coated with titanium, nickel and alloys of various concoctions. During the late 1940s, 50s and 60s, aerospace technology developed materials that made their way into the steel manufacturing process which were applied to vehicles, appliances and buildings.
Why am I telling you this... well, Big Fred decided that making steel had become old technology by the middle of the twentieth century. After getting a ship blown out from underneath him fighting the Japanese in World War II, his industry was now under attack from foreign competition who were dumping cheaply made subsidized steel on the market. It was obvious to Big Fred that there was no future in that business as it existed so he said I could never work in the steel business as he and my grand father had. He insisted I go to college and learn a skill for the new economies burgeoning at the end of the cold war. While all of this sounds prophetic keep in mind the first word Big Fred taught me to speak was "bullshit".
I did go to college much to Big Fred's consternation as he conjectured that I majored in fun! No wonder since he taught me to never worry about anything and to not take shit from anyone. Fun was the easy part of my educational process earning a bachelor of science in Industrial Design. College in the late sixties was an unusual time as sororities and fraternities gave way to sex, drugs and rock 'n roll. Viet Nam provided an atmosphere of fervor leading to the distrust of institutions and politicians. Creative thought and self expression dismissed the previous generations' adherence to the norm. It was wild time in the neighborhood!
Growing up, Big Fred taught me how to use various tools he had acquired. We fixed everything in sight from broken sinks to garage doors that I drove through learning how to drive. Grace taught me how to drive at eleven years old in a cemetery where she said I couldn't kill anyone. She would let me drive a '47 Willys Jeep out into the woods where we would pick blackberries. I got my first speeding ticket at the age of fourteen. I still have all of those tools Big Fred left me. He taught me how to use them but I never took those lessons too seriously. Oh I still use them to fix broken stuff around my own home, but I have also used them to make art some of which would perhaps rival the steel that he made. They're as good as the dna he and Gracie laid on me!
I made it to the twenty-first century but Big Fred did not. Gracie made it to the ripe age of 87 in the new millennium but she woke up the day after we celebrated Thanksgiving, had a cup of coffee, then laid down and peacefully died. I'm still using all of the tools those two provided, both the manufactured... and the inherited ones.
If you have read this far, then scroll your mouse over my baby picture at the top of this page and you will see our family salute.