Lawrence THE HANDLE, which varies in length according to the height of its user, and in some cases is made by that user to his or her specifications, is like most of the other parts of the tool in that it has a name and thus a character of its own. I call it the snath, as do most of us in the UK, though variations include the snathe, the snaithe, the snead, and the sned.
Dad believed in a big bang theory when it came to stretching a dollar. If he ever walked through another life style, it had existed years before I was born.
Suspicions ran rampant that in his early years, Dad had been a big spender, judging from the quality of antique furniture that made its home with us. We lived in a two story cottage in Upper Darby, a northern neighborhood in the city of liberty, Philadelphia.
Beds of rose bushes lined the front walkway to our home. I remember Dad stopping on the sidewalk each morning on his way to work, picking a new rose and placing it into his suit lapel.
In early spring, roses stood proudly by the dozens each morning waiting for the master to choose one of them. I took spent roses, placed them in a glass jar, added a little water and pounded rose petals with a stick, making perfume for my Mother.
After creating a grueling mess of water and broken rose petals, I proudly gave them to her and waited for her to use the perfume that I had made with love, behind her ears. A proud moment arrived when she would tell me how wonderful the rose water smelled.
On the east side of our home, Dad had constructed cold frames out of lumber and old windows he had collected. It gave seedlings an early start in the spring, protecting them from cold Philadelphia mornings in March until mid April.
Then I helped with the planting of the tiny plants when spring arrived in our neighborhood. The basement, heated by our boiler in Philadelphia winters, became a play area for me after school and on weekends.
Dad had turned part of the lower level into a recreational room by painting the walls sky blue and the half windows above ground black, to keep the lights inside from getting out at night during black out exercises in Philadelphia during World War Two.
By winter mornings the house remained freezing to a young boy whose ears heard every blue word my Father could invent, yelling at an inanimate heater. I loved the coal chute descending from the driveway on the first floor to the basement. Puffs of coal dust tumbled into the air surrounding my slide down to the pile of coal slumped beside the furnace.
Mother shook her head at me, handing a bar of lava soap for me to clean up with in the mop sink located across from the room. During the war, air raid practice drills were common occurrences in Philadelphia.
Our entire family gathered in our basement, listening to the radio, playing cards or reading, whiling time away until we heard the all clear siren, cutting through the silence in a city paused for the air raid practice.
It was one more experience telling my mind, the war was a constant reminder of a strong country united in one simple pursuit, the ultimate defeat of our world enemies.
On weekends when Dad had spare time, we retreated to our basement, making lead soldiers for my standing army. Using scraps of lead, Dad melted them in a small electric pot, making sure the lead was hot enough to pour into the two-sided soldier molds. When he unfolded the mold covers and exposed a new squad of lead soldiers, he made my happiness complete; not because of soldiers I possessed but rather that they were hand made by my Father.
Eventually, I had a standing army of several dozen troops, some striding forward, others were crouched in a firing position.
A fearsome amount of men to mow down any enemy forces that might have come by our neighborhood. After Thanksgiving passed in my memory, an excitement started to build about Santa Claus, his eight reindeer and his mysterious elves who were scheduled for a visit to my house on Christmas eve.
Department stores glowed in holiday splendors featuring The Jesus Child, tucked away in a manger with shepherds, Mary and Joseph, wise men and animals gathered close to the cradle. Outside department stores, display windows sparkled with toy villages, nestled in winter scenes of bright snow with miniature trains, puffing white smoke from their engines, winding their way amongst the cottages and small neighborhoods.
Other store fronts showed animated scenes from Christmas times in the past. It was magic time for a small child, standing on the sidewalk jammed next to dozens of people gazing through the glass, listening to Christmas carols playing from broadcast speakers placed close to display windows.
Inside, being dragged unwillingly to visit Santa Claus, I became anxious, looking up at Santa, sitting eight feet above the department store floor, beside a set of temporary stairs rising to meet him. Climbing steps in the open, frightened me because of the height above the floor and the thought of being pushed down a slide by an unfriendly, bored to death elf.
I had made my list to show Santa when he pulled me into his chair but I was too uncomfortable to say anything to him. Appearing at the top of my list was an erector set, complete with pulleys and electric motor.NOTE: This online catalog works best on a desktop computer with an updated web browser.
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