Wednesday, February 9, 2011

... out arm wrestle most of the boys ...

Daddy built his work shop when Harold was young.  The front sliding doors were on rails and together, both opened wide enough for a tractor to fit inside.  The shop was close to the back door of the house, far enough for Daddy to bang a bit and it not be too loud, yet close enough that a fast dash wouldn't make one too miserably wet in the rain (just slightly miserable).  Of great importance was that Mother or one of us kids could open the back door and yell, "DADDY, TIME TO EAT" and if he didn't have machinery running, he could hear us.
Daddy, Harold, and the new shop

Jean and Sandra (on tractor) in the shop, about 12 - 14 years later.  

One of my brothers (George) organized Daddy's tools as an FFA project.  
(Future Farmers of America)
Daddy was always particular about his tools. They were always organized.

In the shop were his tools, chain hoist, welder, drill press, and a million other tools that were wonderful.  I was always fascinated by his drill press.  He had a foot pedal that operated it.  Because he could hold the item he needed drilled with both hands, step on the pedal to raise and lower the drill, he could move things around with more accuracy with both hands on the item.  When I was a bit older and I was allowed, I would drill holes into scrap wood.  It was the tool that impressed me more than any other. His grinder was attached to the work table, a grinding wheel on one end and a wire brush on the other end.  We would play with his chain hoist when allowed, stepping on the hook and raising ourselves a few feet off the floor and back down again.  He rarely allowed young kids to do much in 'the shop'.  (Remember, I was younger than most of my siblings and although my older brothers worked in the shop, I wasn't old enough to truly do that type of work.)

On the joists, below the rafters, he had built a platform of wood that was about 10' above the concrete floor.  I loved to be allowed to go up to this area and see the wonderful things stored there.  I never understood what the tools or other bits and pieces stored there actually were, but they were wonderful.  What made them the most wonderful was the fact that I had permission to go up the ladder and see them, whatever they were.  This was a rare privilege.  Daddy was usually too busy to 'babysit' and watch to be sure we weren't doing something dangerous.  He had work to do.   If we took a step to far, it was a long way down to a concrete floor.  If we knocked something down, it could be damaged beyond repair.  He had to know we wouldn't fall when he gave us permission to go up.  He would say "no" when we asked to do things like this and when he said "no", that was it.  We didn't ask again.  We knew better than that.  And if Daddy said no, we didn't ask Mother.  If Mother said no, we didn't ask Daddy.  We knew that there would be consequences that we wouldn't like very much, to say the least. 

He had a sign in his shop that I'd mull over nearly every time I saw it.  It became a part of my inner being.  It read, "the hurrier I go, the behinder I get".  Quite often, when I hurried through something, I'd have to start all over.  It was a good lesson and a good reminder, nailed up on the wall.  

There were at least 10 of us (Mother, Daddy, and us kids) living at the house for some of the years I spent growing up.  The 10 of us shared one bathroom.  Daddy finally built a toilet room that opened into to the shop.  It was wonderful for those of us kids who 'couldn't wait' while someone was taking a bath.  It was also wonderful for anyone working in the shop, for us kids playing outside, and for the field hands.  People with muddy feet tracking through Mother's clean house to use our family bathroom wasn't a good option.  She sure didn't mind us keeping our dirt outside although we didn't use the shop 'bathroom' often.  Many of the field hands were strangers.  With children and personal belongings, even in those days, strangers tramping through the house wasn't comfortable to anyone. Two dozen pairs of muddy shoes are rarely welcome in anyone's house, strangers or not!

On the floor in the back corner is a box.  Harold is sitting inside the box.

In the left back corner of the shop was a room that was encased in hardware cloth.  In this room Daddy stored his seed peanuts, saved from one year's crop to plant the next year.  Mice and rats thought it made a dandy pantry for them.  The hardware cloth helped keep them out.  Dogs and cats had free range in the shop, helping keep the rodent population down and preserving the seed peanuts.  Sometimes we'd find a mouse nest and the little naked pink mice were terribly ugly/cute.  I always wanted to keep them.  I never was allowed to do so. When Daddy had the seed room door open, it was another wonderful magic world.  It only had croker bags of peanuts, piled one on top of the other, but any area that we were never allowed to see into was magical when the door was opened.  Every so often a hamper with a rattlesnake would be sitting on top of the croker sacks, waiting for Daddy to have a break in work so he could take us to Ross Allen's Reptile Show at Silver Springs.

The house is to the left. The shop is in the center of the photo.

George working on a tractor in the shop as part of an FFA project.

Many years later, the shop shows its age.  It was eventually torn down.

When we were older teens, we were allowed in the shop without asking for permission. It was understood that if we used a tool, we put it back where it belonged. If we made a mess, we cleaned it up.  We didn't use things that Daddy might need later.  Scrap wood was OK to play with but if we thought there was a chance that Daddy would need it, we would ask permission before we did anything with it.

Years and years later, after we had families of our own, Sandra and I built a fish cleaning table for Daddy.  He had a good laugh when we all realized that I had measured the legs wrong and one side was a few inches higher than the other.  You'd think we had never seen a saw before in our lives!

Living on a farm, watching brothers and Daddy work on machinery and build things in the shop, I knew things that many girls didn't know.  In my senior year of high school, I took DCT (Diversified Career Technology).  During the long morning class that our teacher rarely attended, we students played around.  I could out arm wrestle most of the boys simply because we did a good bit of heavy work on the farm. Believe me, they tried to beat me!  Being out arm wrestled by a little scrap of a 117 pound girl wasn't the brightest part of their day.  It wasn't long before they decided that arm-wrestling wasn't the best way (for their ego) to spend a half-hour in DCT class.  In mechanical aptitude tests, I scored about the highest in the class.  It was always fun to hear the boys complain when they were wrong and I had the right answer to these type questions; "If gear A is turning clockwise, what direction is gear F turning?"  Watching farm equipment made the answer to that question automatic, as automatic as the answer to 'does rain fall up or down'.  Growing up on a farm and hanging out in Daddy's shop had it's advantages.

Years after I married Stephen and moved out of the house, I realized how much I had learned in Daddy's shop.  

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