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
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.