Grandpa’s Life Skills 101

Ever had to fix a hoe? While tackling this task, my brain was problem solving on a variety of fronts. Yes, the job at hand, but also relishing a connection to generations past. I have to admit, I did not want to take time away from my computer and the creative work done there, however, with an orchard irrigation coming up, I knew every available implement needed to be in working order. We have gophers; therefore we have holes that I’m convinced surface on the other side of the planet. And weeds.

In this disposable era I’m grateful to have the skills and equipment necessary to do a simple repair on a loose hoe handle. Repair or replace? That is the question we face on a frequent basis. Our grandparents often did not have that luxury, as repair was usually the only option.

So, I stepped away from the computer and gathered up the needed pieces and parts. And—I made a decision to stay in my pretty red shoes—because they make me happy! Ruby slippers anyone?

I retrieved the hammer, inherited from my grandpa, out of my toolbox full of tools mostly gleaned from the “extras” belonging to the men in both my family and my husband’s. Some I’ve bought myself because they’re useful and I need them, like a ratcheting screwdriver—What a great invention! Note—I’ve outfitted my daughter with her own tool box, well stocked, because I think a woman should have her own at hand and not have to borrow. Also avoids the inevitable—where is my ____ when you use your own tools!

That said—I love working with tools that have a history, knowing the hands that used them to keep home, farm and autos running smoothly.

Then, I dug through a large, rusty assortment of screws, washers and nuts, along with highly organized bits of metal flotsam and stuff I didn’t even recognize, to find the correct length bolt. This collection, which we’ve since added to, expanded over the decades by men who grew up in the Great Depression. If you needed to fix something, you went to the barn or garage and rifled through the coffee cans, baby food or mason jars to find the appropriate part. In my family we called this “Visiting Grandpa’s Hardware Store.” Odds were excellent that you could find exactly what was needed. And if you couldn’t, then asking him would both please him and result in a quick find as he knew where everything was.

The process of drilling a hole through the handle took some patience and I was thankful for the electric drill. Here’s a hearty shout out to all those adults who took time through the years to show me how to use tools, how to “fix stuff” and basically operate as a resourceful human being. Thank you!

Think back over the skills your parents, grandparents and other relatives and friends have taught you over the years. I bet there’s some old time “life hacks” you rely on regularly. Write about them! And write about the folks that took time to show you how it’s done. Lastly, by all means, pass them on to the next generation—mentor with purpose and keep the generational wisdom tank full.

What life skills did your elders pass on to you?

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Karen Ray

Address: 2877 Willow Creek Lane, Las Cruces, NM, 88007

Phone: 575-323-1048


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