Rt 2, Box 330 Irrigon, Oregon 97844
I know it's coming. It's just a matter of time. I get a new pair of overalls every year and the first thing I do is to check and see if the hammer loop and plier pocket are still there. Some young executive is going to figure his company can save a generous amount of money by leaving that strange loop and unnecessary pocket off his overalls.
I can remember my first hammer. A woody. That's one with a wooden handle. I was about thirteen or fourteen at the time. My woody had one short claw and staples to hold the head tight because the wedges had worked out and gotten lost.
Woody and I spent a lot of time together. I liked the feel of this hammer slapping my side. Besides, I visualized how impressive I must look to other people. The only trouble was when sitting down at the table, when the hammer had a tendency to pop up in my armpit. But, with quick hands, hardly anyone noticed.
We had a neighbor named Lester Strunk who was a REAL carpenter. Lester packed the ultimate hammer. A steelie! That is a steel hammer with the laminated leather handle. A steelie with straight claws no less. I just drooled.
I don't know if there is a 'Hay Wire' Hall of Fame, but if there is I would like to add my father's name to the list.
Mountain climbers and hunters carry survival kits. For the farmers in the 30's and 40's the survival kits were a pair of pliers. Armed with baling wire and pliers I've seen my dad repair mufflers, plow levers, pitman sticks for the mower and endless other jobs. His double loop around and twistems with wire would make a piano tuner shake his head with envy. In fact, Dad could do more things with pliers than a Scout can do with one of those Swiss army knives.
Dad packed a pair of no nonsense, eight inch chrome-plated pliers in his plier pocket. He wouldn't scrimp when it came to pliers. It was too important and he demanded the best.
Not all the wire twisters were top notch. I remember a Chevy truck that Dad bought one time that had a generous amount of baling wire on the muffler and tail pipe. Our collie, Slim, used to spend his spare time under the Chevy. I'm not sure if it was the shade that attracted him or if he liked to study all the baling wire. Maybe he thought he had a porcupine treed in the Chevy. My plier talents weren't great either. All I ever did was round all the nuts on my bicycle.
May this be some small tribute to the wire mechanics who, over the years, have absorbed so much ridicule, but in actuality accomplished, out of necessity, so much with so little.
The next time you go shopping for overalls you might take your claw hammer and pliers with you. This will let the clerks associate the tools with the overalls, and, also, they can see how important the loops and pockets are to you. You could even do a couple of quick draws for them. If nothing else, it would give them something to tell their families at the dinner table.