Texas Country Reporter turns fifty in October 2022. Each week until then, we’ll share classic episodes from the show’s history and behind-the-scenes reflections from TCR’s creator and host, Bob Phillips.

It used to be, if you wanted to learn a trade, you found a master in whatever it was you wanted to do and signed up to be an apprentice. That is, if your daddy or granddaddy didn’t teach you how to do it first. But Pierce Carpenter is one guy who got the best of both worlds.

On the day we visited Central Texas Tool Co. in Abilene back almost a decade ago, Pierce was busy learning the ins and outs of the family machine shop from his dad, Tommy Carpenter. Tommy learned it from his dad, Tom Carpenter, who learned it from his dad, the founder of the business. Three generations were working in the same sheet-metal building that had sat on the same dirt floor since 1937.

They say kids don’t want to follow in their parents’ footprints anymore and that they certainly don’t want to work with them. They say most of us need to go to school to get “book smart” if we want to succeed in life. They say that in these modern times, there’s really no need to get your hands dirty on the job.

But Pierce Carpenter told us he doesn’t much care what “they” say. After spending a day with the Carpenters—and as you’ll see when you watch the episode from 2012—we think he might be on to something.

If you’re out in Abilene, you can still find the Carpenters making machinery by hand at Central Texas Tool.