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Passing the Torch

Most of you know that both my dad and my father in law died in the same week this past July. Since then my wife and I have been busy literally selling the farm my parents lived on and disposing of all the farm equipment and 75 years accumulation of business, farm and personal stuff. Just going through it is a long process, not to mention disposing of it.

I found a few really neat things I had not seen since I was a kid right away. I decided then and there that there would not be any wholesale removal of anything. The memories those things brought back were just too valuable.

After many hours, days and weeks of blood, sweat and tears literally, on the top shelf of my Dad's workshop covered with dirt daubers and spider webs was a Gerber baby food jar. Inside it was a key ring. On the key ring was a Nickel alloy almost round magnet the size of a dine and about 4 mm thick.

My dad was a radiator repairman and welder. One of the problems right after WWII was radiators had a lot of iron parts on them that caused repair problems. Dad needed a handy magnet to sort out these parts. His uncle was a metallurgist at a local refinery and made that magnet for him. As a kid I always remember it on his key ring. About 10 years ago I asked what happened to it and he told me he did not know.

He obviously put it in a safe place. I found it.

Dad, it is on my key ring just like it was on yours.

The torch is passed.

When it came time to do the same thing at my father in law's house my brother in law "I just can't do it" is what he told me. Too sensitive of a guy. My dad took that sensitivity out of me with a little strip of leather and the admonition to "suck it up and take it like a man".

My Dad's parents were both killed when he was 16 in 1932 in the midst of the depression. Dad knew what "suck it up and take it like a man" meant. He had been there, done that. I often thought of him telling me that and it got me through many a dismal hour in my youth, the U S Army, at Philmont and all along life's path.

I even passed it along to my daughters. My 23 year old is often heard telling her whining friends to "suck it up and take it like a man" and they do!

Anyway, the time came to clean out my father in law's attic. He notoriously saved EVERYTHING, packaged it in an appropriate box or bag, tied it with string and labeled it. This was brought to my attention when my wife and I had our first child (the 23 year old) and she was ready to start coloring with Crayolas.

Grandpa fetched my wife's coloring books and Crayolas from the attic where he put them some 35 year earlier.

OK, I approached my brother in law about cleaning out the attic. He told me he just couldn't put his mind to it that it was too painful and anyway almost everything up there was mine. He told his sister she could have anything that was up there.

True my wife had put a lot of baby stuff in her dad's attic as ours is not very big so we got after it.

Yesterday we started working on the attic. Besides five computers that belonged to her brother and three degrees worth of engineering notes and texts stored there we also found his Cub Scout uniform from 50 years ago.

She also found a silver tray and coffee and tea service that she had never seen before. The note in the box told that it was her great grandmothers. We had it appraised today at $500.00. It is not the monetary value, but the fact that it is a family heirloom she had never seen or heard about.

Today I found her brother's A. C. Gilbert No 6-1/2 Erector Set complete with instruction booklet and the electric motor and gear box. Mine gave up the ghost long ago and what is left of the "customized" parts is in some landfill. If you have never built things with an Erector Set, you just have never lived.

I don't think the gear box on the motor drive would pass OSHA standards today but back then kids didn't go sticking their fingers into gears to see what it would do. We knew without trying.

Since he told me the stuff was all mine I am enjoying playing with MY Erector Set even though his name is written on the box. I just got off the phone from telling him how much fun it was to play with it again after a 50 year hiatus.

I told him that when I got through playing with MY new toy, he could borrow it someday so long as he returned it the same day. No overnight loans. I did not want him to become attached to it.

In reality, I'll clean it up and give it to him for a Christmas present. In the meantime, I'm gonna make him sweat. I'll throw in his Cub Scout uniform for good measure. He doesn't even know I found it.

His daddy always put the things into the attic and Gene and Susan had no idea where or what was there. The attic was their dad's sanctum sanctuary.

Now I am the custodian of the attic.

And again, the torch is passed.


John LeBlanc
johnlebl@aol.com
Eagle Scout Class of 1959