By David D’Amico
Living in Fort Worth, Texas, soon after we received the green card as permanent residents to the United States, I tried to find a job. I was 22, recently married, having moved to another country, with little English knowledge.
One day in 1957, at the church, I met a deacon named Mr. Willard who asked me how we were doing. I told him I was looking for a steady job. He suggested considering working as a custodian for the Fort Worth Independent School District. I applied and was employed to be a custodian at Bluebonnet Elementary School.
Mr. Willard was a very patient supervisor. He offered to take me to work in his car. He would come to pick me up and would bring me back during the afternoon. I worked as a custodian for nine months. The teachers and principal were very kind, knowing I did not speak English well.
As a custodian I learned to wax and shine the hallway floors, to dust and pull the weeds in the schoolyard. I also acted as a “guard” during the time the children ate in the school cafeteria. I think I got a warm lunch from the helpers at the cafeteria.
I learned a new skill–waxing floors with a buffing machine. I used that skill as late as 1989 when we moved to the house in Louisville. Before placing carpets in the wooden floors, I waxed the whole first floor to my pride and joy. My children would not believe that the Billy Graham professor of Evangelism knew how to wax floors.
An advantage of my working as a custodian was the cultural adjustment to the common people. I learned the Texas dialect and some of the Black English of the African American maids. The School district had a “retirement” plan. I saved an amount for the months I was employed and when I quit, I received about $600.00. I was blessed by a “father figure” in Mr. Willard. We used to take a coffee break in the basement and he would tell me stories. He cared for me and was a great mentor. He knew that being a custodian was a temporary work for me and he wished me well. I will never forget him for his kindness and Christian love.
David D’Amico is a CBF field personnel emeritus who served on the Diplomatic Team in New York. During that time, he served as a representative of CBF to the United Nations Diplomatic Community, seeking to meet the needs of humanity in the areas of world peace, economic and educational development, religious freedom and world evangelization.