A continuing saga of a cluttered office.
Submitted by anonymous Verona resident. 11/1/2021
As I sit here composing November’s trip around my office corner, I think about the writing I did in the past eleven months. In my hand is my old Parker 51 ballpoint pen that filled many rough drafts with words. It has the signature arrow-shaped pocket clip. The worn push top and the partially legible words, Parker Pen, attest to the number of years it has been a faithful servant. Its life has been prolonged by replacement Parker T-Ball Jotter cartridges. I received it as a gift from my spouse when I started a new job many decades ago, thus it is hard to part with it.
We all remember when mending and patching was the thing we did to extend the life of our belongings. None of this throwaway thinking that exists today. In the Coke case is a wooden mending egg. Its oval shape slipped easily into the heel of a sock revealing the thread-bare spot. Experienced fingers could weave a patch equally as durable and woven as neatly as the original.
Pushed into a small crack of the Coke case is the working end of an ice pick. The wooden handle is imprinted with the word COKE and the top end holds a bottle opener. Every home had an ice pick if an ice box was used. The pick would be used to chop off pieces of the ice block until the frozen rectangle fit into its compartment. This was done while the children eagerly waited for ice chip treats.
On top the pop case is an 8” wood box plane. After all these years the blade is still razor sharp. Adjustment is done with a wooden wedge. When the wedge is forced in to hold the blade at the desired length, the plane is ready to use.
In one corner of the desk a collection of empty pill bottles is staring back at me. It seems the size and number of the containers has gradually increased without my realizing it. Could it be that they parallel my aging?
The pile of magazines containing the 1943 LIFE issue I spoke about in January still sits in another corner. Additionally there are 3 more historical issues of the LIFE: October 2, 1964 featuring the unforgettable Zapruder film; December 26, 1969 with “The ‘60s – A Decade of Tumult and Change”; and the last one, the new smaller- sized LIFE, 3” shorter and 1½” narrower, highlighting 1993, a “Year in Pictures”.
Once again my eyes take in my special area: the bulletin board, the Coke case and the desk. As I write, my pen is starting to skip, going dry over the past year that has come full circle. It seems the Ol’ Pack Rat is also going dry. But it is still enjoyable for me to sit here passing the time thinking about where and why I accumulated the various items which have so much history. Thanks to Verona Senior Center for allowing me to fill this space while I reminisced. Perhaps other readers might want to share tidbits of their past experiences. Give the Senior Center staff a call. As I stated many times before, continue to remember and share…it’s good for you and good for the younger generations, also.
So long, The Ol’ Pack Rat
A continuing saga of a cluttered office.
Submitted by anonymous Verona resident. 10/1/2021
October…I like the month of October. The air is crisp and the world changes in color from its variety of greens to red-yellow oranges. And October is the time for homecoming. In the old pop case is a kazoo. I recall our homecoming parade when the football team had a kazoo band. It seemed the only tune they could play was the school fight song but that was sufficient to rally the crowd. Each high school class vied for the honor of best float. After the Friday afternoon parade, all the floats were dismantled and the pieces stacked high to create a huge pile. That night it would become a bonfire as part of the pregame pep rally. The game had to be played during the day on Saturday as there were no lighted fields for night events.
Near the kazoo in the pop case rests a glass electrical fuse. Many older houses had a four-circuit fuse box. The four fuses worked very well when they were first installed, each serving one or two rooms. Their loads were light: a few lamps and overhead bulbs, a radio, and maybe a fan during the summer months. Then came the newfangled appliances, all of which put a strain on the circuits. The iron, electric fry pan and waffle iron, curling iron and hair dryer were some of the culprits. If more than one of these was plugged into the same circuit at a time – Lights out! This was followed by the usual routine: a few choice words uttered, a search in the dark for the flashlight, and a trip to the basement to install another fuse.
Hanging from the bulletin board is a pair of handmade ice skates…a cool thought in these remaining still -warm days! Unlike modern skates where the foot is inserted into a boot, this pair is very simple. It consists of a one inch high hand-forged, narrow blade which tapered into a complete, upright circle in front. On top of the blade is a carved wooden foot shape, 1.5 inch thick, that is attached to the blade with screws. On top the wooden surface a few hobnails are exposed so their sharp ends can help secure the sole of one’s shoe to the skate. Additionally, a front leather strap and one in the back were the only other means of keeping the skate on the shoe. I would guess these skates are approximately one-hundred years old.
They surely bring back memories of my own ice skating days although my skates were more “modern” ones. Our rink was a backwater slough off the river which ran through the edge of town. The quarter-mile long slough defined the end of town on the west side of Main Street. Every time it snowed we cleared a spot to skate. The town put up a “warming” shack except there was no heat, no stove, only two benches for sitting to put on our skates. When the weather turned colder, we would collect wood and build a fire some place on the ice. Fond memories for sure, but who can ever forget the cold feet we endured while skating? Keep remembering, it’s good for you.
The Ol’ Pack Rat