There was a thread, a while back, on saving wood scraps. It pointed out
that, for most of us, the Y chromosome carries the "pack-rat gene". I have
a fair amount of storage space rendered useless by artifacts from previous
projects . . . jigs, templates and patterns which are so specialized that
there is no way in hell that I'll ever use them again, but they are so
cleverly made that I can't throw them away.
To compound the problem, a lot of us are just a generation or two from
parents or grandparents who were immigrant farmers. This carries a lot of
cultural baggage. Nothing - - particularly if it was made of metal - - was
ever discarded. Pipes, bolts, spikes and pieces of chain were saved for
another project. Even a broken scythe blade was going to get reworked into
a hinge for a gate. Eric Sloane wrote three little paperbacks filled with
pen sketches of tools and work methods: Diary of an Early American Boy;
Reverence for Wood; and A Museum of Early American Tools. I really felt
when I read these little books, that I was looking at the stuff grossvater
taught dad, and he tried to teach me. When dad (2nd generation kraut
farmer) died 30 years ago, we hauled several hundred pounds of scrap crap
out of his shop in the basement. After a foreign transfer forced me to
clean out my garage 15 years ago, I was amazed at how much the debris under
the work benches looked like the stuff from dad's shop.
This reminds me of a story I heard some time ago: Seems as how a guy, newly
married, noticed that every time his wife fixed roast beef, she would cut
off and discard about an inch from the end of the roast. After seeing this
happen several times, he asked her what the reason was for this. She had
absolutely no idea. It was just something her mother had always done. He
put the same question to his mother-in-law. Same answer. HER mother had
always done it.
Turns out that her grandmother was still alive and well out in the red
breaks of west Texas. Her cooking days were over, but she was still alert
and lucid. On a trip through, they dropped in on grandma for a visit.
Somehow, he managed to bring up the question of the
pruned-and-discarded-roast end. Grandma's response: "Luther (her late
husband) did the butchering when we slaughtered a steer. He always cut the
roasts too damned big to fit into the roasting pan."