On this Father Day, June 16, 2013, I would like to honor my Dad, Mike Pontarolo, without which Cheney Farms could not be possible. My Dad is a technician. I was told these words by a friend some years ago in response to my Dad's attention to detail while wrapping hundreds of pounds of Pontarolo sausage. Each package was labeled perfectly; date, variety, and recipient - repeat. He would envelope each stack of sausage patties with the care and delicacy that one can only develop after years of work requiring fastidious scrutiny to detail. As my friend whispered 'look at Mike, he is a technician with that wrapping' I realized that my Dad takes bundling sausage patties as serious as he takes gingerly holding a new born grandchild. He does not discriminate; he implicitly takes each and every task in life and completes it with perfection.
By day my Dad is an attorney, by night he is an unpaid hired man at Cheney Farms. Fueled by fresh pesto with vine ripened cherry tomatoes, copious amounts of fava beans, and the occasional Pepsi - with ice - my Dad has toiled and tinkered at the Farm for three years. He has ever so patiently honed his skills as farmer, rekindling his roots of a Walla Walla farm boy. Born and raised on the loess soils of the Walla Walla Valley he picked onions from a young age. He once told me that if he had not fallen into the law he would have liked to have been a farmer. Graduating from Walla Walla Sweets to cannery work, and eventually wheat, my Dad, beneath his olive skin, has a farmers blood. If you were to strip away the black suit and tie, quick wit, and unrelenting passion for his legal craft you would find a simple, happy man, in blue coveralls with dirt on his brow.
From the first days at Cheney Farms my Dad has dug his heels in each afternoon to muscle out the 'second shift' without question. He seamlessly switches from teacher to pupil, from employer to the employee, from boss to friend without ever skipping a beat.
So maybe it is fitting that in 1910, in my hometown of Spokane, WA, at the local YMCA, Sonora Smart Dodd founded 'Fathers Day' so that 103 years later I could honor The Technician; for his work will never be out done nor under appreciated.
Happy Fathers Day.