What Ever Happened to Joe?

Submitted by CUR on 3/25/02. ( wildart@prodigy.net )

Years ago, I knew a short, squart little man whom I will call, "Joe". Now, Joe, was a bit balding, smelled like cheap Tampa cigars most of the time, when he didn't smell like Yellowstone, his bourbon of choice. Joe was not a great communicator, nor was his social image such that he was ever nominated to run for political office or asked to participate in local charity events. Joe was a product of the Great Depression and a veteran of WWI (The big one, he would say.) He always wore a clean tee shirt, coveralls and a shop apron that once had belonged to the Southern Railroad Company. Joe topped his outfit with a tattered old railroad cap someone had given him once upon a time.

Joe cussed with a vengence, abused the English language, and loved to pull the old finger trick on young boys. Joe's wife was much nicer and more social. She was about two axe handles across the beam and baked the best apple pie and chocolate chip cookies I ever ate. Joe was the son of a German immigrant. His cursing was always a mix of both English and Deutsch, and he would cite his grandfather's wisdom often, whether the analogy drawn fit the occassion or not.

Joe was a lot of things, but above all, he was a taxidermist of the old school. As a "stuffer", Joe had two admirable traits: One was that he never put down, or made fun of the works of others or old methods. The second was a tight lipped secrecy where techniques and procedures were concerned that rivaled the Alchemnists of yore.

Joe was an inventive, serious craftsman of the old school. He had no access to modern manuals, fish replicas, well sculpted forms and "miracle" chemicals. He was, however, not set in the old ways. He constantly sourced new products and modern materials as they became available. He played around with plastics and resins more than fifty years ago. He threw out the old arsenic pastes and soaps long before others did.

Of course, others did the same, over the years. So what was special about a guy who drank cheap bourbon and smoked even cheaper cigars? It was his ingenuity and immersion that separated Joe from other men in his chosen profession. Joe knew his subjects backward and forward. He had stacks, boxes and files full of any reference material he could locate. He spent hours on end in the woods and fields and along the waterways, learning the ways of nature and its residents. He read current science and technology periodicals, gleaning their pages for new materials and substances that might be applied in this field. Joe was never a mouse-click away from instant answers. He had to utilize that often neglected commodity known as the human brain. Joe didn't seek instant gratification and call it knowledge. The man thought problems out and devised solutions on his own, using a vast accumulated knowledge of subject, materials and application techniques.

So what does all this mean? Well, it seems we have fewer and fewer Joes. A plethora, if you will, of the joined-at-the-hip, single mindedness among our peers rather than real thinkers and problem solvers. A huge portion of the questions posted on this forum could be avoided if a moment's thought were applied to the problem at hand. Now, I don't mean to imply that there are no current "giants" or movers and shakers in this field, but for every one of those folks, there are a hundred or more individuals content to prey on the knowledgeable instead of thinking of a solution on their own. I believe that this leads to a standardization of methods, techniques and end product that will eventually snuff out originality and unique presentation. After all, since nature has provided us with variation, so also should our work repeat natural variance - including asymmetry!

An individual cannot refer to self as a "taxidermist" if not capable of performing routine tasks and procedures. (And I DO NOT mean looking up a body form or a "How to" video in a vendor's catalog. - I am talking creativity, not sourcing!) It would appear that too many folks take in work they have no clue how to finish. They then turn to the the forums in panic, relying on the good will and abilities of others to fulfill their promises, after the fact.

In short, we need more Joe's. More originators and fewer xerox machines in this field if is to move by leaps and bounds, rather than on a curve dictated by monthly information releases.

Just food for thought, ya'll have a nice day!

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Very well put!

This response submitted by Jerry S. on 3/25/02. ( jds@htcomp.net )

Excellent information. The only problem is that the folks who so desperately need to read this probably won't. They don't want to take the extra time needed because it's too much trouble! They're probably waiting for the Reader's Digest version.

Thanks for a little affirmation of the way things need to be.

Jerry S.

Couldn't agree with you more!

This response submitted by Bob C on 3/25/02. ( bobswildlife@aol.com )

Hey Cur, I think you have to be 35 or older to really understand what was said here. Unfortunatly, this applies not only to the taxidermy trade, but ALL other trades. We just bought a car,94 Buick in mint condition,though it did not run, for $600. The original owners spent between 800 and 1000 dollars to try to figure out what the problem was. 2 different garages couldn't trouble shoot the problem. Their "diognostic computers" kept coming up with all different things, o2 sensor,catalitic converter, all kinds of things. Well, I took it down to a friend of mine, an old school mechanic. He listened to the motor and with out any test equipment said it was running on 3 cyl. We then checked the spark plugs and found out that it was only running on 2. The problem was the coil.It took him less than 10 min. to find the problem. CUR, you are right, the younger generation relys to much on information thats only a "click" away. Unfortunatly there's not much we can do about it. I guess it just a sign of the times. Bob C

You sure hit nail on the head

This response submitted by Mark B on 3/25/02. ( jnmb@cpinternet.com )

Cur, I've thought the same thing more than once, but never had the balls to say it. I understand that some people are learning, but do we really have to divulge all the information that we worked hard to come up with. I feel that if you're a taxidermist, you're not the only one in your area, and chances are you have a freind who you could ask.
Everyone is always trying to do better work than your competion, but I've learned that if you don't have the talent and drive to start with, you have no right to offer your services to the public.
I was once asked, by a taxidermist how do you make ice (artificial), and my first reply was take the tray from the freezer and fill it with water and put it back in. I then told him to buy the resin and read the directions, basically figure it out yourself. Anyway I'm not much for words, but thanks for saying it like it is, I respect that.

the original "joe" post

This response submitted by michael sestak on 3/25/02. ( )

was so well put, there isn't anything to really add to it, except to agree with it. so i do agree with it.
it was also so well written, i think "cur" could quit his taxidermy job and become a writer, he writes a good story and had my interest from the start...i think i will wait for the movie.
thank you, Cur.


Well put Bill!

This response submitted by marty on 3/25/02. ( meshimkus@yahoo.com )

I made a post a couple years back about "Cookie Cutter Taxidermy" that also touched upon some of the same things you speak of Bill. Unfortunately, I do not possess your ability to articulate nor do I have the experience or talent that you do Bill (and I proceeded to get my butt whooped!) Anyways, great post. Unfortunately as stated above, I suspect most that need to read it will not. Maybe you should've titled the post "Secrets to making Mache'" (or something) to grab their attention...

well Bill

This response submitted by Dave Toms on 3/25/02. ( )

while I do agree with all said so far, I do not want you to suffer from massive hemmoraging caused from a swollen head so.......

haven't you got anything better to do like fishing? got to be some fish running? lol

Dave Toms

ps I keep telling you that you need to write a book...

Hey Bill

This response submitted by pjundt on 3/25/02. ( )

Bill, I am in the medical field, everyone in this profession ask each other many questions, we compare notes, we compare procedures, we are always willing to learn from each other. This is how we are able to move forward. Even seasoned medical professionals shell out advice and knowledge.If everyone took your view the medical field would be nothing as you see today. You may think you know all the tricks because you have been a taxidermist so long, but you, my friend are like all the rest of us. There is always someone better than you. If you choose not to share secrets then don't. Some secrets are a persons signiture. Don't put down people that do share, sharing is a way people learn. It makes no difference what field you are in. By the way German ancestery is very prevelent in this family to.

A sign of the times ...

This response submitted by Nancy M. on 3/25/02. ( )

Well said, Cur.
"Joe" was not ashamed to use his reasoning ability and then to act on it.
People are no longer being encouraged to think. The nation's attention span has been determined to be 4 seconds, (by advertisers) so current TV programs almost never hold a scene longer than that. ('Don't know about cable - can't get it out here in the boonies, frankly 'don't care.)
There is an intellectual implosion going on, and it seems to have become politically correct to be stupid. Just believe whatever you are told. Don't chew. Just swallow.
All of your problems are someone else's fault anyway, right? You can't solve them because you didn't cause them. Poor victim.
If you are trying to be self-sufficient, you are probably sociopathic!

It's no wonder the old "Joe" taxidermists are getting scarce. The few that are left are probably out in the country where people still have to figure things out and improvise on occasion. The new guys have to locate near a population center if they hope to earn enough to survive. They are at least a few steps ahead of the typical city dweller in most cases, because at least they know where meat comes from. Still, it is very hard to totally shake off the taint of the modern educational system.
I'll bet Joe's wife would never make an apple pie with canned filling, or brownies from a box. Heaven forbid gravy mix in a bag!
Don't chew. Just swallow. Feel better?

This is one of my sore subjects, ya'all.
Does it show? (LOL!) At least for this one reason, I am GLAD to be ... um ... somewhat over 35.

Nancy M.

Well Mr.Pjundt

This response submitted by Cur on 3/25/02. ( wildart@prodigy.net )

You may be in the medical field, but you sure can't read with context. That was not about sharing or not sharing. That was about individual thought and thinking before asking. This field, like the medical field, has it's established practices and procedures, but, like your field, it also requires thought and persistance and not just button pushing for an answer. I am no stranger to the medical field or laboratory procedure. I am a med school drop out and hold an advanced degree in the sciences. Two of my ex-wives were in the medical profession, one a doctor and one a hospital administrator - (Which goes to show you I MAY NOT know much about the field after-all....LOL!)

Ya missed my point. It was about a man's responsibility to self and the requirement to project knowledge searches beyond and established protocol. You mentioned "signatures", that is a portion of the concept touched on above. You mentioned the "medical field" that is a broad area of employment. Surely protocols are important, but sooner or later, you have to think too, I suppose.

fear not

This response submitted by Bill Yox on 3/25/02. ( )

I think most of us have some Joe in there somewhere. Its just that we need some maturity, some seasoning, if you will, to bring out our own particular "Joe". I hope the heck that MY "Joe" is nearer to the surface then it used to be...

younger people

This response submitted by Byron Leggett on 3/26/02. ( stetsonb1@aol.com )

ok why are you guys knocking the younger generation here i'm only 26 years old and understand perfectly what "CUR" was talking about.I am getting ready to go to taxidermy school here shortly and comments like that tend to discourage some people from learning the art of taxidermy. Don't get me wrong i totally agree with what was said .


That is exactly why

This response submitted by Roger on 3/26/02. ( Emery30@msn.com )

I would "knock the younger generation". "comments like that tend to discourage some people"? Give me a break...challenges should have the effect of motivation to action and participation...


This response submitted by Bill Yox on 3/26/02. ( )

You fit the mold exactly...but dont worry. Its OK to be young and niave. Be glad you are, its your ticket forward. Some of us hardened old bastards cant get away with what you can still. Folks soon learn to accept themselves for what they are, rather then fight it. You are young, but you still understand much of what Cur said. The stuff you didnt, well, thats just OK, because you are what you are, man! Now go get that education, and realize that some of those speed bumps thrown out ahead of you are valuable learning obstacles, and not meant as a personal thing. Let us know how things go for you!

Terrible "analogy" Pjundt

This response submitted by marty on 3/27/02. ( meshimkus@yahoo.com )

You're comparing apples and oranges. Without getting into a long-winded response, all I can say is you didn't learn to be a doctor (if you are indeed a doctor) on the internet - you went to school for many years. And, doctors' share information for technological advancement because lives are at stake (and they don't want a malpractice lawsuit!)

younger people

This response submitted by Byron Leggett on 3/28/02. ( stetsonb1@aol.com )

Ok guys lets clear this up. I was simply just trying to state that you don't have to be 35 years old to understand what "CUR" was talking about. Iwas not saying that what he wrote discouraged younger people from learning. Mr. "CUR" and Mr. Yox you guys are very wise individuals and i respect that. Younger people look up to you guys because of your knowledge you have, you should be proud of that.What do you think this sight and forums are for. I'm not trying to get an argument started here just saying what i feel. Mr. Yox why do you say i fit the mold perfectly just because i am going to school to learn taxidermy?, and for your information i am not niave. As for you Mr. Roger who ever you are you can stick it up your ass i don't need any rude comments from you!

Byron, THATS why

This response submitted by Bill Yox on 3/28/02. ( )

They just dont know, do they? See Byron, you CANT see what I do, because you ARE you. Its part of being your age, cant you understand that? Its not a negative. Im not "dissing" you. Its actually a compliment. Theres nothing wrong with being 26, or naive. I wish I could still be. Theres something to be said about innocence, etc. Once you mature through experience, you wish it could still feel simple. I felt I knew at 26 too. And I did. I knew through 26, give or take a bit. If you STILL cant see what I mean, please dont argue the point further with me, but wait till you are 42 like me, then email me. But by then Ill be looking through older eyes too. Enjoy what I call your innocence. Yes, yes, I KNOW you understand the things that Cur described. Its the other stuff, so dont sweat it. You are just fine. Oh, except for that comment about Mr Roger. He made an excellent point. And as usual, it fell on deaf ears...

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