Monday, May 22, 2006


i was stirred to consider these things by the second one shown when i came upon it a few days ago, but the first is much older so i led with it. i do have older things, but not that i made. presenting them here did of course bring up memories of the times they were made. i was just beginning to see the bigger outside world in 1951. commies and the bomb. i got up in the middle of the night once to watch an atom bomb test on tv, and then ran outside to see the flash in the night sky from nevada. i was a doofus college kid in 1961. there was still the bomb, which seemed more threatening, and still commies, who had the bomb too now, but the new young president gave us all hope, for while at least.

this is a picture of a relic from my yoot ( as joe pesci says it, in his character of vinnie the new lawyer in the movie "my cousin vinnie," to fred gynne as the judge; "yoot, yoot, you know, when you're young.")

i carved this from a wooden peg that may have been, in my memory at least, a part of a set of bunk beds, to join the lowers with the uppers. as best i can recall it was maybe 4th grade. nine years old. san carlos, california, 1951. carving a tiki god. musta been some impression from a polynesian themed restaurant, mixed in with those easter island island statues. i think i finished it with "old english" furniture polish. it has stuck with me for a while longer than most stuff of my yoot. doesn't rust either. (see next relic below) it did lose part of a foot somewhere, sometime.

this is a hole punch. for paper. it makes, rather obviously, one hole at a time. it isn't designed to be efficient. it's a college machine shop assignment. i made it in 1961. we had to make each piece: base, top, shaft, handle, spring, washer: from stock metal. "machine shop in college?" you may be asking. i also took a foundry course, in which we made molds and filled them with molten iron. i had to go home and shower after class to get the black soot out of my hair, nose, eyes, ears, and everywhere. another part of my "production technology" minor was a welding class.

i have lived an interesting life of many moves, mostly in northern california, where it is often damp. as neil young sez "rust never sleeps." when we unpacked after our last (not merely latest) move i found this relic rusted immobile and unusable. after long soaking in the elixir of the rust solvent trade, wd-40, and the new kid on the super-lube block, silicone lubricant, the punch yielded to my urgings to poke holes in paper.

what sort of handmade things from your earlier life do you have?

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