She’s really let herself go and it wouldn’t be a stretch to call her “shabby.” Having reached her ninth decade, her best years are certainly behind her.
She’s become a decrepit derelict; you can actually see her ribs through her tattered outer garments. She’s sagging and bulging and has taken to wearing a slimy coat of moss.
Yes, it’s definitely time for a new garage.
Our current structure wouldn’t even pass for a garage nowadays. At 10-by-16-feet, she’s barely big enough to be called a storage shed, which is what we’ve been using her for during the past quarter-century.
It’s become clear that the old garage will have to be disassembled or deconstructed or perhaps simply destructed.
But, as my wife pointed out, this can’t happen until all the junk contained therein is removed.
Hearing your wife utter the phrase “clean out the garage” evokes a deep sense of terror in most guys’ hearts.
That set of words is feared nearly as much as “we need to talk about our relationship and decide where it’s going” or “my mother is moving in with us and that’s final!”
Everyone has heard the expression “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” My problem is that I often find it difficult to differentiate between those two categories.
Not wanting to be accused of shirking my duties, I backed my pickup up to the old garage and faced up to a chore that loomed as large as the cleaning of the Augean stables.
Up above the door I can barely make out the hand-painted “1918.” If that date is correct, it would mean this old garage was built by my great-grandfather Charlie Sween. It also means that the structure’s original purpose was probably to house a buggy.
My Grandpa Nelson, who purchased this farm from his father-in-law, used to park his Ford Fairlane in the old garage. I don’t know how he managed it, but I suspect that a
shoehorn was involved.
Nor do I know how Grandpa got out of
the car once it was in the garage. Crawling out through the trunk appears to have been his only exit strategy.
In any case, I simply must save that piece of siding with 1918 emblazed on it. Ditto the board on the south side that bears the letters “W.N.” and “E.N.” This is no doubt the result of some youthful vandalism by my uncles Wilmer and Coke. They must have carved their initials into the siding
prior to Eldon adopting his soda pop nickname.
Cleaning out the garage wasn’t so much a “neatening up” project as an archaeological expedition. I dug down through the strata of our junk and into stuff that predated our time
on this farm. Some even predated my time on this earth.
Much of the detritus brought back memories. Here is a pair of tiny lawn chairs my wife bought for our boys when they were tykes. Who can toss out anything that brings to mind that cherished era when the kids still thought their parents were cool?
Whoa! A used tire from that Chevette we once owned! I have to hang onto this to remind us what it’s like to drive a
motorized skate board.
An empty liquor bottle is evidence of Grandpa Nelson’s preferrence for blackberry brandy.The fact that it’s out in
the garage reminds me of how he had to conceal it from Grandma’s disapproving eye. Which just goes to show that even
the best of marriages can have their secrets.
Here’s an ancient plowshare that hasn’t seen daylight for decades. Best hang onto it lest it be recycled back into a sword.
Off in one corner, nailed to a moldering stud, is a forgotten mercury thermometer. It still has all its mercury and appears to be fairly accurate.
Printed on the flipside of the rusty temperature scale are the words “Sinai Co-op Elevator” along with “grain, coal,
flour, seed, feed and salt”.
The Sinai Co-op Elevator is still doing business. I should call them and place an order for three tons of coal and half a dozen bags of flour. When they reply that they no
longer carry such things I could bust their chops for violating our nation’s Truth In Advertising laws.
After a long afternoon of sorting and tossing and turning, I paused to straighten out the kinks in my back.
Glancing upward, I happened to see an assortment of bridles and reins hanging from a rotting rafter.
Were they Grandpa’s? Or did Charlie leave them there?
Not that it matters; those items are definitely keepers.
The old garage is finally cleaned out and is cleared for decommissioning. Some sort of storage structure will replace it, although nothing can really take its place.
I just hope the new shed has room for all the neat stuff I found out in the old garage.
Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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