Hanging it up

February 7, 2006
By: Marty Rice

In his farewell article for thefabricator.com, reader-favorite author and welding instructor Marty Rice reflects on his life, his welding career, writing for the Web site, and his appreciation for the readers who have contacted him throughout the years. He also expresses his view about the decline of welding training programs.

Marty Rice observes as student Patrick Brown uses an oxyacetylene torch.

Editor's Note: This is Marty Rice's last article for the thefabricator.com. No author who has contributed to this Web site has been more widely read or received more feedback than Marty. His articles have entertained, inspired, and educated welding professionals and enthusiasts worldwide. On behalf of thefabricator.com and its audience, I'd like to thank Marty for his outstanding contributions to the Web site and the welding industry and wish him the best of luck in the years to come. It's been a pleasure. Enjoy the roses!

In the last few years I've lost a lot of close friends, including my younger brother. One thing I realized after all those funerals is that I need to stop to smell the roses more often. So I've decided to settle down a bit and enjoy this wonderful life God has given me. One of the things I'm giving up because of my new, self-imposed time constraints is writing articles.

When I first was contacted a few years ago to write for thefabricator.com, I had no idea I'd end up hearing from people from all over the world. Just when I was getting to know the content manager, he headed out and was replaced by Vicki Bell. Vicki was awesome to work with, because she lobbied to keep my crazy, nonconformist, drive-English-professors-crazy writing style. Now I'm not saying every writer should butcher the Queen's English the way I do, but I do think people are ready for some down-to-earth talk about welding. Sometimes you just want to hear it in "plain English," and I know that's true from the really neat comments I've received over the years.

I really appreciate all who've dropped me a line after reading one of my articles. I was especially touched by those armed forces veterans who thanked me for the "Tribute to Veterans" article I wrote a while back. Of course, I thank thefabricator.com for giving me the opportunity to put in my two cents' worth about welding—the last of the great industrial trades. I hope I answered all readers who contacted me. Sometimes I get overwhelmed keeping up with my high school knuckleheads and my own family life. If I didn't respond to you, I apologize. It surely wasn't on purpose; it was just my forgetful, procrastinating, unorganized way.

A Band of Brothers

I've heard from readers from Hawaii to New Jersey and countries all over the world. The welding community is a tight-knit community like no others. I'd wager there is no other trade in which people are so willing to share information and help out. Most everyone nowadays is worried about noncompete clauses and keeping tight-lipped. But in welding, most everyone will drop what they're doing to help out someone they don't even know.

Through e-mails alone I've become friends with several people, including a couple of welding instructors and a couple of engineers. I really have to thank my two "walking welding encyclopedias," Harold Anderson in New York and David Hass in Oklahoma. All I had to do was drop them a line, and those guys would give me first-class information in a heartbeat. I swear that they probably could tell me the meaning of life if I asked! And former American Welding Society (AWS) president Ernest Levert even e-mailed me from a business meeting in Beijing, China, once to answer one of my questions.

Along the Way

Going back to my welding roots, I thank my first instructors, Phil Newell, who used to yell in my ear to "relax your hand and watch the puddle!"—a message I've passed on to many students and readers over the years—and Mike Waldrop, whose laid-back style would reboost my confidence after Phil told me I should forget welding and be a carpenter.

I'll always appreciate my apprentice coordinator Jim Fenwick, who started me in the Ironworkers union, and Roy Climber, a Local 408 business agent who told me that as a journeyman I'd be earning as much as a bank vice president. A lot of counselors and parents could stand to hear that now; welding offers a heck of a career. The ignorant bureaucrats closing down welding programs don't have a clue, and it's going to come back and haunt them one day when they need good craftspeople!

You can still catch me in Practical Welding Today®'s "Arc Welding 101" column through 2006, and I'll be in Hobart's The World of Welding, as long as they'll have me.

I think it was ol' Billy Shakespeare who said, "Parting is such sweet sorrow ..." I wish all of you well, and as the old Irish proverb says, "May you live as long as you want, and never want as long as you live."

Marty Rice

Marty Rice

Contributing Writer
High School Career Center in Texas
Marty Rice is a welding instructor at a high school career center in Texas. He is an honorary member of the Ironworkers Local 263.


Questions for the author can be e-mailed to vickib@thefabricator.com