A True Factotum-

A Polaroid Portrait of John Ciombor Senior in his workshop.

When I think of my dad, I think of a true factotum. He is the old school breed, jack of all trades. There is nothing that he can conceive and not achieve.

My parents are both from Poland. My mom came over when she was only six. She is a nurse and the most wonderful person. She could be a Saint as there is nothing she won’t do for another. My dad grew up in Poland during a post war time and later arrived in the United Stated in his 20’s.  He came from a family of 15 where the kids were raised to help the family survive. Farming and cooking from the land was how a family endured the times. In school he was taught standard courses in addition to woodworking, welding and glassblowing. Trades that gave him the skill set to become a master. After school, he joined the Polish army and drove a tank all throughout bases in East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Ukraine. When he came to the United States his first employment was a Welder in NJ. My sibling and I were born in Jersey and later moved to the Hudson Valley, NY. He was then hired at the high school we all attended as a Maintenance Man. He basically fixed everything that would break throughout the school.

But it’s not what he did as an employee that encompassed his life. It’s the work outside of work that we all know him for. After buying a house in the country, my mother and father turned it into a small scale farm. Hand building sheds for his workshop and homes for the chickens, goats, rabbits, ducks, cats and dogs. They tilled the land and grew an organic garden. Later adding additions to the shed for beekeeping and candle making. My mom’s famous quote about my dad is “do you know how much money your father has saved us.” In our early teens my parents bought a run-down cabin on a lake in Sullivan County. It sat on the market for years as a major fixer upper. When my parents found it, my dad saw the potential and went to work restoring the home. Plumbing, heating, roofing, rebuilding the kitchen, gutting and redoing the bathroom, installing new windows and lovely Tung and Groove woodwork throughout the cabin my dad did it all. He is the exceptional factotum.


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