About the time I, a widower myself, was packing up to move north to Fly Creek, my brother and I were clearing out grandma’s basement. We decided that, since he did little carpentry and I was moving to a very old farm, I should take the tools with me. And so I did and have put them to great use over my 20 years of farming.
But now all those tools and their handsome handmade chest are going back to Shady Side, where they got their very first use. The Shady Side Historical Society is delighted and will house them in their Captain Salem Avery Museum. (You can check out that fine museum’s website.) My brother and I agree. That’s just where they belong.
I used almost all the tools over the years — clamps, saws, hammers, pry bars, awls, hand drills, draw knives, rat-tailed files, and much more. I even used his beautiful transit, complete with tripod and plum bob, laying out lines for sheep fencing.
Whenever I used the tools, I always felt grandpa at my shoulder. And when I wielded the heavy hammer he used with such zest, I could almost feel his energy in my shoulder and arm, slamming away with me.
On setting nail that finished a job, I always shouted his words with, I hope, something of grandpa Sam’s energy:
“There!” BANG! “Now stay there, damn it!”