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thirteen, got inv ited to his first “mixed party” (boys and girls). To the amusement of us all, he and his best friend prepared for the party by practicing the latest dance sensation, the “twist,” in our kitchen. Four yea rs later, we were a ll well into our teenage years, brimming with energy and looking for summer jobs. Dad found us work installing asphalt shingles on new houses. Working out in the sun, we promptly got sunburned and our hands developed blisters and scrapes. It was hard work, but it was also very exciting. We weren’t f lipping burgers or washing cars; we wer e doi ng men’s work . A s t he summer wore on, our Ir ish

skin turned brown and our hands healed. We learned the rudiments of the roofing trade, and at the end of each week we got a paycheck. The work and the paycheck filled us with pride. We were in the heyday of the post-war building boom and had all the work we wanted. That second building boom turned out to be the last one for my brothers, who went on to other careers. I stayed in building, however, and continue to build and repair houses to this day. Along the way, I’ve been through numerous booms and busts, and I can say without hesitation that the booms are a lot more fun than the busts. But none will ever be as much fun as that first one in 1959.

John Carroll became a general contractor in 1977. He is a frequent contributor to Fine Homebuilding and has written three books on building. He lives in Durham, N.C.

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