My first memory
of my Grandfather was staged on his shoulders. He used to pick
me up and carry me around the kitchen playing "Nuttin' in
there." This game was a quest to find some home-baked goodie
after opening almost every cabinet in the kitchen. We'd start
by walking up to a cabinet, which either one of us opened to look
inside. It would be full of dishes, or canned food to which he'd
say "nuttin' in theya!" Eventually we'd make our way
to the one with the goods and he'd confirm that there was "somethin'
in there!" That was truly my favorite game to play and he
never got tired of carrying me around to find a treat.
really knew no bounds. He seemed to have a custom jig rigged up
to make every facet of his daily life less tedious. His shop was
like a land of wonders to a young boy like myself. There were
rows of jars screwed to long rotating posts with sorted screws,
nails, nuts & bolts over head. There were tools of of every
shape attached to benches on all sides of his shop. There were
rollers and conveyers feeding huge spools of wire into a massive
automatic welding machine. Lights that only he knew how to turn
on, homemade stoves burning junk mail and scrap wood and of particular
intrigue to me, a one-legged stool, which I loved to teeter on
while I watched him work. If you were wondering, "Beep"
was the name given to my grandfather by my older brother, Tim.
When Tim was very young he said "Bee-pah" instead of
"grandpa" - the name "Beep" has stuck ever
the years I watched him create one thing after another. He and
his wife Betty were self-incorporated, which to me meant that
they worked from home. Now that I too work in the same self-dependent
fashion I know that it means they work pretty much every day of
their lives. To my older brother, Tim, and me it was a great blessing
having them work at home and we spent as many days there as we
did at home. Among the inventions that I remember were the fiberglass
boats back before I was big enough to paddle one. Puddle-Dippa
was one of the models that I remember, as was the remarkable Folda-Dippa
- a fiberglass canoe that could be split into two nested sections
and strapped on ones back. I still remember a newspaper-clipping
showing one waking down the highway to a boat show. Beep and his
creations were always in one publication or another.
Not all of
his inventions were strictly for adults, he had intricate paper
airplane designs that he fashioned out of large business cards.
I don't recall if this was simply a hobby or if he did anything
with them, but I do know that he later created designs that used
the Styrofoam trays from fast food restaurants. He even published
a book, Styro Flyers, which was produced by a major publisher
some twenty years ago. I believe it was about that same time that
Beep began creating boats using a lightweight wooden frame wrapped
with an intricate geodesic pattern of Kevlar. He first built the
body of an airplane using the technique and then carried it over
to his love for boating. One passion to another, one good idea
to the next - that's pretty much how he's always been.
distant in my memory was when I was in college during winter break.
Beep decided he'd like to introduce the idea of a "quick
build kit" and offered me the chance to help him build a
small fleet of boat frames. They were essentially the construction
of an entire boat without the gunwales & skin. We worked side
by side for a week or more and I quickly learned many aspects
of building a Geodesic Boat. We worked together as though it had
never been any other way with Benny Goodman playing in the background
on his old AM radio. It was a very fun and enriching experience
that I'll never ever forget.
you were to meet Platt, you'd see a kind, humble older man with
a delightful twinkle in his eye. And if you followed him around
his shops you'd see a trail of innovations and contraptions from
inventions that date back as far as I can remember. You'd also
meet his darling wife, Bette, who's impeccable sense of interior
design maintains a comfortable home from which they both have
worked for decades. If you followed her around you see her arts
and crafts placed about their charming home and would quickly
see how integral her work has been in running Monfort Associates
and Aladdin Products over the many years. And if you had the chance
to sit and chat with the two of them you'd come to know a couple
who have supported each other without hesitation for more than
50 years living almost exclusively by their own efforts. And while
you would easily see their beauty, you might never know the hardships
they have endured or how instrumental their support has been to
those of us who know and love them as our grandparents. They both
have been nothing less than inspirational, and it is after them
that I have patterned my own success. I can only offer my love,
respect and gratitude in return for all that they have done.