Saturday, June 22, 2013

My Father's Tool Box

From January 26, 2013

As I watch how my toddler granddaughters play and learn, I realize just how smart young children really are and how well they are in tune with their surroundings.

It was many years’ ago, actually decades when our daughter, then age 3, utte
red what I thought was a very astute observation regarding her immediate family.

My wife was reading a children’s book to her when all of the sudden she paused when this sentence was read “while mommy does the dishes daddy fixes things around the house”.

My very bright little girl contorted her face in puzzlement, looked at my wife and questioned “Daddy fixes things around the house”?

Kids know, they may seem innocent but they know. They absorb EVERYTHING.

My father had only 4 tools, and was able to destroy any attempt at home repair with this fix-it kit from Hades.

His arsenal consisted of the following:
· A claw hammer without a handle and ½ a claw.
· 1 needle-nose pliers
· A regular pair of pliers.
· A Phillips Head screwdriver.

Pictures hung on walls without the benefit of a level, and we pretended not to notice.

Needle nose pliers were used to hold the nails as his lame excuse for a hammer pushed nails into the now cracked plaster.  Using a flip-flop in place of that hammer would have been an improvement.

 His “regular” pliers pulled the bent nails from the plaster since ½ a claw was insufficient to do the job.

Henry F. Phillips (1890-1958) invented the cross head screw and screwdriver. This innovation must have left my father with a sense of amazement and bewilderment, as I never recall him owning a regular screwdriver.

He would always say, “That’s why dimes and butter knives were made”.

He was forever bellowing out instructions to fetch his “Phillips Head” when he was involved in any project, from room painting to trimming the Xmas tree.

I was never certain if he ever really used the tool or just preferred to have it in his pocket should the need arise.

He was so proud to own a state-of-the-art tool (well when it was new 30 years' ago) he just could not seem to understand its purpose, and if he did he didn’t care. He was a hipster home-repairer and probably just waited for someone else to ask if they could borrow it.

Unfortunately his Mr. Fix-it genes did not skip a generation. I not only inherited his skill set, I took it to new lows.

Many years ago, when I moved in to my 1st apartment I purchased a brand new set of Sears Craftsman tools. I had it all, wrenches, pliers, socket sets, screwdrivers (both regular AND Phillips Head in a variety of sizes, no dimes and no butter knives) everything a state-of-the-art hipster MR. Fix-it could ever want.

I amazed myself, I impressed my friends and Dad even drooled over all those Phillips Head screwdrivers. I was set for life and ready to tackle whatever repair the future had in store for me.

I remember opening the steel toolbox only once. Whatever disaster followed must have been horrific, as my mind will not allow me to recall the event. All I know is that I moved the kit to a far corner and it remained closed for almost 20 years. When I finally opened Pandora’s box I found all the tools not only rusted, they somehow fused together into a big pile of steel.

I took this as a sign from the Almighty and sold the pile for scrap.

It is Friday night, a time when real daddy’s already have their Saturday honey-do list at the ready, plans to hit the local Home Depot 1st thing in the AM, anxious to tackle that annoying leaky faucet or squeaky floor board.

I will probably join them. Even though I lack skills, I can still visit the local Ace Hardware and get a few keys made.

While there I know I’ll ask to see the Phillips Head Screwdrivers.

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