I was once again re-wiring a boat trailer, a task I thoroughly enjoy when all is going well (which for me is rare), and just as I believed I was done, everything failed.
I hooked the truck to another boat trailer I had just re-wired last month — nothing. Again!
I decide that perhaps it was merely a fuse in the tow truck. No problem, as I have always kept extra fuses about. I went to my tool bench and retrieved them, only to become aware of the fact that since the last vehicle I had purchased for myself there had been some dramatic upgrades.
The 2011 GMC we bought a few years ago requires much smaller fuses than those I had been saving for more than a decade.
With no use for the yet to be opened package, I gave them to a local friend and mechanic. The event inspired me to review other possible things I had saved for the proverbial rainy day.
There was the saddle soap I had to keep mule harness supple. I have not worked a mule for nigh on a half century. The brass polish for the hames was on the same shelf. There were hog rings and pliers. Long after we had swine, they were still essential to repair and reattach the soles of work boots.
Again, both repasts from decades ago. The can of calcium carbide was molded over, even more unused than the spare mantles for a Coleman lantern. In recent years, I have followed the battery crowd of illumination.
Hanging from the rafter of a shed was a horse hair buggy whip; an item even further from daily use than the motor starting crank for a four-door Edsel an uncle used to own.
There was the collection of hide boards from my coon hunting days. The acid battery for a Wheat Light from those same days. A cracked globe for a kerosene lantern I had not seen for years. Not quite ready to part with everything, I placed it by the mantles.
I found a float from the carburetor of a 1960 Ford F-150. The floats leaked and so every so many miles we had to stop and switch carburetors. Back then — two bolts, a gas line, a throttle cable and one spring. We’d tried soldering the bad seam on one float; should have been more careful about getting all the gas out. Today you can barely see the scars.
The truck was long gone; the one spare float remains. An old coffee can of spare keys; the only ones I could identify were the Master Lock 901’s from my old Camp Zoe days. A saw swage for a crescent ground crosscut I used years ago.
I found a keyboard for a Commodore 64 computer. A box of needles for a hand-cranked Victrola record player and a mandrel key for a pulley wheel for a sawmill at which I once worked. There was an open-ended wrench which I believe was for the carriage of the same mill.
A cowbell from a neighbor’s Guernsey from my childhood; a bell hog scraper from roughly the same period. A cow horn I used to call foxhounds when sassafras fires cooked Ballpark Franks and Dailey and Sweety were among those casting their voices o’er Shannon County hills.
As of this writing I am yet undecided as to what goes and what will remain. I just took a break to watch the Cubs win the Series.
Seems everything has a use after a time.
By Rick Mansfield
(Rick Mansfield is a seasoned storyteller and writer, and is always looking for new audiences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)