Grandfathers, Dads, and Red Twine
It was the height of tornado season. The sky dark from what had become a single horizon-to-horizon cloud.
Grandpa Ed would be buried in four days.
Dad and I sorted, opened, trashed, and repackaged some two hundred containers of string pieces, metal oil cans, bolts, screws, tools, pulley systems, fire extinguishers, hubcaps, and the list goes on. Why would someone keep a three-inch length of red twine? Or, a case of twenty-four empty metal oil cans? I was from the disposable generation. Grandpa Ed lived through the Great Depression.
Tool crazy must be hereditary—Dad had it. I recall Dad’s first company car—he built a pine tool chest in the trunk. The car weighed 3400 lbs when it left the factory and 7000 lbs working the oil fields of southwestern Wyoming. Tool crazy is one of my vices, and pleasures. I have one of everything with a Craftsman brand. (Not exactly true, but it assists in making the point). And possess a sizeable amount of Stanley tools.
Cleaning Grandpa’s garage, we found tools in boxes, cloth wraps, and bags. Grandpa’s tools included Ford and Case tractor tool kits, early Stanley designs, and homemade apparatuses. It was these tools that gave me an appreciation for the great depression. Tools had value, like gold, or maybe more than gold when times approached desperate. With tools you could farm and feed the family.
It was one particular hand-made tool that intrigued me. A simple rubber skirt attached with bailing wire at one end of a stick with red twine wrapped tightly around the other. That stick replaced the multiple-thousand dollar device for valve seating. He repaired the engine in the field and was back to plowing in half an hour. Without his rubber tipped valve stick he was a ten-minute walk to the house, a thirty-minute drive to town, an hour wait in line, fifteen minutes for the machine operation, a ten dollar bill, and another forty minutes back to the tractor.
His ingenuity was special.
Two years ago, I got misty eyed when Dad handed me a cardboard box of Grandpa’s old-old tools. I was holding Grandpa’s stuff hoping some of his essence still haunted the tools, and wanted so much for each wrench, plier, screwdriver, handmade hatchet, and chisel to divulge its past. Somehow I had been cheated out of the opportunity to know him, witness his thinking, and to find out why he kept a three inch long red twine. If tools could talk…
We buried Grandpa Ed next to his brother in law. Silently, we stood by the gravesite for fifteen minutes. Walking back to the car, dad put his arm around my shoulders, it was the only time I saw my dad cry, as he struggled with the words, “some day I have to tell you what a great man he was.” In that instant, I knew Grandpa was special—for my hero had endorsed him.
Converting travel notes to short stories was my first adventure into writing. Encouraged by friends and family, I wrote a few short stories that were offered free on the Internet. Three months later readers were still downloading.
Inspired, I penned a spy story, launched a website, created a social media platform, researched self-publishing, and selected a publishing company. To say the book was okay would be an exaggeration. But, the experience hooked me.
A search for a mentor/editor led me to Idea Creations Press—a gold mine of writing knowledge and experience. The first book Winter’s Thief continues to receive five star reviews. Reviews of Spring’s Saboteurs and Summer’s Swarm indicate the newer books are more engaging and thrilling.
Check out the website www.AndeanWhite.com