Thursday, April 18, 2013

"Baling Wire" 
© By Abe Lincoln

Roy Sommers was one of the first persons I met when we moved to town in 1962. It was a miracle that vehicles that could not stop at Wolf Creek Pike had not demolished his store. The old building leaned and the old roof sagged but for its age the place seemed strong enough. The building was badly damaged, at least once, when a car, rammed into the store and came to a stop about halfway through the building.

Roy had things like wire in his store and I always needed some wire. People who came through or were born (like I was) during the Depression always needed some wire. You can do things with wire you can’t do with string or tape. When the muffler or tail pipe of a car fell down it would be wired back up in place and it would last a long time. A lot of people used wire to fasten gates and wire-up things to keep them from falling apart.

A man with a giant metal hook where his hand used to be, who lived in Clayton, Ohio, showed me how the hook was attached to his arm. It was fixed to a block of wood that was covered with some leather and that was wrapped with a piece of ordinary baling wire. His arm stub fit in the leather part but I don’t know what kept it from falling off. His name was, “Hook Fair,” and I have a notion that there is at least one fart, older than me, who might remember him.

Hook lived in the house right across the street from the grocery store by the corner. If you were coming in on 49 from Phillipsburg, the road stops at the intersection with the church on the corner. The store is still there on the left, and is now a house. Hook’s house is still there across the street like it always was. I never really liked Hook Fair because of his hook. It scared me. It was a big curved hook, like you could find in the haymow of any barn. Maybe that’s where he got it.

It always looked extra sharp to me and it would come too close to my leg when I sat down on his porch swing with him and my dad sat on the porch rail so he could spit his Mail Pouch tobacco juice on Hook’s flowers. I actually shook his hook the first time we met. Dad told me to “shake hands” and Hook stuck his hook out and with some fear, I shook it up and down.

Roy Sommers told me a lot about my house or about where it was built. I mentioned to him, one day, that there were a lot of crawdad burrows or holes in my back yard. He told me that where my house was built used to be a kind of swamp and he used to ice skate there when he was a boy. He said there used to be a lot of snakes there too. That reminded me that our neighbor was mowing his yard once and gave out a yelp because he had run over a snake and the mower had cut the snake’s tail off.

He probably won’t remember that but he sure looked funny jumping away from his mower. The snake wasn’t killed because I saw it several times after that; with a short, stubby, tail end.

I have no idea where I can buy wire today. I still have some from the last I bought from Somers-Behnken Hardware but it is down to some short kinked pieces and some of those are showing signs of rust. It would be nice to buy a new piece. I suppose you can get wire in rolls from Lowes or Home Depot. But wire seldom wears out and I still have some that I got from Roy Sommers.

© Abraham Lincoln

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