My paternal grandfather was, for lack of a better term – a mechanical and mathematical genius. He dropped out of school in the 6th grade to work by collecting driftwood under Brooklyn’s famed Coney Island boardwalk for $1 a day.
He later fished out a worn calculus textbook from a trash bin and taught himself how to determine such esoteric things as critical numbers and average function values. At 16, he built his fist car from scratch and as an adult earned seven mechanical patents from the U.S. Navy in World War II.
He later became the chief mechanic at the old Topps Factory – best known for their packets of Major League Baseball cards. Needless to say, as his first grandson, I had more MLB player cards than any 10 kids in the neighborhood.
I always maintained that had he been born in say 1951 or 1961 instead of 1911, he would have easily been in the same software development arena as a Gates or Jobs, he was simply that smart.
But for all his accomplishments, do you know what he really wanted to do?
Operate a hot dog cart.