A guest post by Ann Wortham:
I recently had lunch at Alamo with James Whittaker…James A. Whittaker Jr. to be exact, but also known as “Shorty.”
He was born in Church Hill and except for a few short years when he was newly married and starting a family, he has lived in the area all his life…his first 20 years on east Broad Street.
His son was murdered in Church Hill, shot dead when someone invaded his home just 5 days after he turned 21.
Mr. Whittaker lives in Union Hill now and his roots in our community go deep. I invited him for lunch for two reasons:
He had called to say he had some photos to give me of work he recently did for me. He told me that the people he works for (all on side jobs since he already has a very full time job) like to see the before and after shots. Giving them the pictures is part of his routine; and he confided that the photos he gives his customers reassure them that the work they agreed was going to be done was the work that was actually done.
The other reason we met for lunch was so that I could thank him.
Of the pictures he gave me I particularly like the “after” shots of both sides of my roof – front and back – views I’ll never see personally of a place too steep for me to ever get on.’
And I really like the gift he gave me that he dug out of the section of my roof that covers the kitchen. There were other bullet holes but this particular missile was the only one that didn’t go all the way through the metal of the roof. The others are there between outside and inside!
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Mr. Whittaker’s spent most of his working life on one roof or another. His second job as a young man was with RBVA, a name known to many; but following just a couple of years there he’s been with his current employer about 25 years. He told me that the first job his current employer gave him was to repair a hole on a porch roof: the new boss told how to do what needed doing, gave him the materials he needed to do it…and left.
Mr. Whittaker must have done OK because as I noted above, he’s been with the guy for more than 2 decades.
About 3 years ago Mr. Whittaker began doing side jobs which include “roofs, plus:” painting (he scraped, caulked, primed, and painted dormers 3 storeys off the ground for me before doing my roof, which is also 3 storeys off the ground), window washing, moving people in or out, yard work….
So part of this is about one of our neighbors and part of this is an endorsement – because I sure as hell am going to use his phone number again: (804)888.3723.