I am so thankful that he was not hurt but, still, I was mad at the misfortune of having the hole in direct line of eyesight for anyone sitting in our dining room—my favorite room for entertaining guests. Why couldn’t the hole be in the bedroom or his office? I cut a rectangular patch from foam board, painted it, and carefully tacked it over the hole to try to hide the gap and keep any critters from wandering in or out of the space. And I called Mike. Mike is my best guy friend. He knows how to fix everything, or he knows someone to call if he cannot do it. (My husband is somewhat household-challenged.)
After I gave Mike the details, he said, “I will send Wally over to take care of it.” I met Wally once before when I was looking for Mike at a rental property he owns. All dressed in white with spatters of white mud compound on his contractor’s uniform, Wally was inside vertically stretched near the top of a ladder and maneuvering a trowel to repair a 10-foot high ceiling. I introduced myself and we chatted a while. I was impressed with his agility.
A few weeks later after my conversation with Mike, Mike telephoned and related that he and Wally were coming over the next day to fix the hole in the wall. Both of these precision-minded men arrived early in the morning. Mike staged the area, laying down tack cloth throughout the carpet to try to contain any drywall residue from the injured wall vicinity. He then left to go about his other chores for the day. I started a conversation with Wally—so friendly and happy in his work.
Waldermar “Wally” Schielke grew up in Chicago after his family left Stuttgart, Germany following World War I. After spending 17 years in Chicago, he joined the Navy during WW II. He met and married his wife in Oak Park, Illinois. At that time, his brother, Sig, was going to school in Colorado. Brother Sig and another friend had also started a plastering business. The friend was called to action in the Korean War and killed on his very first mission. Sig wrote to Wally and mentioned that there was great fishing in the high and low country of Colorado. Wow, thought Wally. He and his wife threw their wedding gifts into their car and headed to Boulder.
Wally joined his brother in the plastering business. However, plastering—a very skilled trade—was losing ground and dry walling was taking hold. The process was easier and faster. Wally began his dry walling career in 1957-58. Sig continued with the plastering business.
I stopped our chat to observe Wally’s fastidious progress with eliminating the hole in the wall. I asked him when he was through, would he consider doing surgery on my face to cover the wrinkles? He said, “Oh no, they would get me for a murder rap.”
Why is Wally still doing dry walling? Wally’s wife died four years ago and he said he does not like sitting around. The health magazine he reads recognizes exercise, exercise. “I am trying to do that,” he says. “My wife and I started with nothing. Poor as church mice. Didn’t care to budget. What we had left over was what we earned and saved. I don’t mind working. My kids are okay.”
Wally remarks, “Young folks building a house on their own, they start out with the drywall and learn that when it comes to finishing the drywall, they usually call in an expert.”
Wally may be the most experienced drywaller they can call. Wally celebrated his 89th birthday this month. Happy Birthday, Wally.
This article was published in the Longmont Times-Call:
LaVelle, Betty (2015, November 28.) Happy Birthday, Wally [LIFE]. Longmont Times-Call, p 5B.