Conrad Milster, 78, is the chief engineer at the Pratt Institute, an art school in Brooklyn. He's been there for 57 years, keeping the old steam engines working smoothly. Some of those engines are more than a hundred years old. When Milster needs a new part for them, he mills it out of steel.
Contemplating the realities of retiring and leaving has become unavoidable. The old order is going away. Milster understands. But is is not a comfortable change:
I think about retirement and I'm sort of afraid to make that move. I'm 78. I'm still healthy. I'm still able to come into work. I think that I'm still reasonably mentally stable. I suppose that I'm going to have to think about leaving at some point. And one of the difficulties is that when I leave a lot of things are going to change. Is anyone going to give a damn about keeping the engines in nice looking condition out there? Would any modern manager put up with the incandescent lighting in here? Who's going to take care of the cats when I'm gone?
This short documentary by Dustin Cohen speaks of skill, aging, time, and change. Conrad Milster is an institution at Pratt and his way of life is an institution in American society--at least, for now.
-via American Digest