“It is not flesh and blood, but heart which makes us fathers and sons.” – Friedrich Schiller
Why we chose to call ourselves Die Hard Dice
‘John is a Die Hard.’ Each time it rained, these five words would appear in the concrete of John’s front porch. Under cover of darkness, armed with cans of shaving cream, some unknown admirers had come to John’s modest home in Orem, Utah, and written this graffiti tribute. By morning, the shaving cream had cast its magic spell on the cement. It seemed like magic to me - a 12-year old boy in the late 1980s. Over the years the etching faded so that you could could no longer see it when dry, but they resurfaced whenever it rained.
John was a high school biology teacher who also worked nights and weekends in the Forest Service. I was “just a poor boy, from a poor family” who desperately wanted to buy a Nintendo. John hired me to mow and edge his lawn for $10/week, and later that summer I got the Nintendo for my birthday. In truth, I only earned half, but my oldest sister and her husband pitched in for the rest. I can still recall the amazed gratitude I felt for that birthday gift. The rest of the summer was a blur of Super Mario Bros and Zelda.
There’s so much more John did for me. I owe my first real job as a computer programmer to the many months he let me use his “IBM Compatible” DOS PC in his basement, teaching myself Basic and Pascal out of library books (no internet for consumers back then). He gave me my first big loan: $600 to buy my “Specialized RockHopper Comp” mountain bike which I would ride to high school, then to my programming job, then to the University mall to play MTG and the arcades. For these and so many other kindnesses, the words, “John is a Die Hard,” is tattooed on my heart.
Fast forward to 2015. My brother Todd and I are in my kitchen playing with these amazing metal dice he bought from somewhere. He tells me all about how they are made by die-casting zinc into molds. He’s in love with these things and actually wants to start a business selling them. We brainstorm for a name he could call the business. When I searched my memory I saw it plain as if it had just rained on John’s porch.
So here’s to John Hendrix, our “bonus father”, and the original Die Hard. He’s no longer with us in person, and I wish he could see the little dice shop we nicknamed after him.
-- Paul Tiemann