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DFP-RonSmith-drill.jpg Ron Smith
My dad used this manual drill more than 70 years ago.

Old things are of my history

Objects from the past link me to people.

I like old stuff.

Maybe it’s a factor of attaning a certain age; maybe it’s just an appreciation for heritage, tradition or the resilience of past generations.

Regardless of the catalyst, I have developed an appreciation for old things. Yeah, some of them are people, folks who mentored me as I left childhood and contemplated some means of being useful as an adult.

My parents top the list, Great Depression survivors who instilled in us the values of education, integrity and work. A strict English teacher comes to mind. Others were relatives, including my much-loved Uncle Mack who just passed away.

The first editor I worked for as a professional writer taught me how to get stories without antagonizing sources.

Not all of the relics I admire are human, however. I value things that have persisted past their expiration date, beyond their efficacy as tools, toys or timepieces.

The nine-day clock I discovered in my grandfather’s attic 50-odd years ago rests atop a bookshelf in my office. It’s currently not tolling the hours, but with adjustments from someone who knows how, it would keep time again. It’s a link to my heritage, a reminder of grandparents who lived simpler lives.

Next to that clock rests a piggy bank so full of coins that even the most vigorous jiggling will not push them out for close examination. I know it contains coins dating as far back as 100 years. I’ll not break it to get to them, though.

Another small bookshelf supports a portable, manual typewriter, a symbol of my craft, a reminder that transferring thoughts onto a medium to share with others once required many more steps than does today’s communication technology. I appreciate the convenience, the ease and the immediacy modern journalism offers, but I miss the tap, tap, tapping, and the ding of the carriage return of those old machines as the hard copy built, word by word, pushing the paper upward, then out to an editor who proofs and improves it.

In my garage, my dad’s bait-casting fishing rod stands among an assortment of other fishing poles that mostly, sadly, gather dust. I remember the day he spooled on the line that remains in the reel. That rod and reel combo dates back at least 65 years, probably closer to 70. I think of my dad every time I see it.

I also think about him when I look at the pegboard on the wall where an old hand-operated drill, what my dad called a brace and bit, hangs among modern tools. My electric drill works faster, with less elbow grease to bore a hole, but I’d get rid of it before I let the old one go.

Old things, I guess, remind me of who I am and where I came from.

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