The Drag Saw


| August/September 1997



P.O. Box D201, Greenville, California 95947

You don't notice much with ignorant eyes. I'd been looking at the drag saw for years, wishing it would disappear along with stacks of tires, coils of barbed wire and Dodge Power Wagon fenders listing in the weeds that grow tall in June between our house and the woods beyond. A useless hulking mass of steel gears and rods and cogs rusted into rest under a cedar tree that's what I saw in the drag saw.

With eyes like mine, you miss the history of a tool in a myopia of wishful thinking. I would have hauled that thing off to the dump if I could have lifted it alone, but Elmore stopped me before I had the chance. And then my brother, Lowell.

Elmore drove out from town in his 1951 Jeep pickup truck, red faded to nearly pink. Said he wanted to see my flowers. I guess I invited him one time when we were watching the A's beat the Cubs on the town Little League field. I knew Elmore. Every Monday morning at 9:05 he called the newspaper office to report on the week's weather. It was his job, and mine, to get the temperatures and precipitation into the local newspaper of record. Sometimes we chatted about this or that, but I knew it was time for business when he cleared his throat and said, 'Well, we have some temperatures.'

On the morning when he came to look at my flower beds, he handed out some advice about how much water and how much sun. Then he asked if he could look around a little. He headed directly toward the bone yard and I followed, embarrassed by the junk poking out from under every tree. Elmore ignored it, walked straight to the collection of gears and rods and cogs moldering under the cedar tree and knelt down in the weeds. He brushed aside some brittle brown fronds and stared at a bit of metal on the inside of a large spoked wheel.

'Yep, this is it,' he muttered. 'It's what?' I asked. 'My daddy's drag saw.' Elmore was grinning. Behind his thick scratched glasses his owlish eyes had a gleam.