his art

“Bob had everything you would need if you wanted to set up your own workshop. He not only had all the tools, the planer, the joiner, the lathe, he had every, I mean every, bit and attachment for every tool. The man had it all.” I listened as Billy explained what my father left behind.

Over the weekend, we traveled to Massachusetts to celebrate Mother’s Day with my Mom. We were lucky to take her out to one of our favorite restaurants in the little town where I was raised. My sister and her boyfriend joined us. After a lovely meal at the good Ole Grist Mill, we went back to my mother’s and found ourselves in the basement.

“I don’t know what any of this stuff is! It was all your father’s! He spent so much time down here creating and building! Sometimes just sorting nails!” My mother laughed and said to us all. “I don’t know what do with it all? You want something, take it!” We had known for some time that she wanted the basement cleaned. She had no intention of starting her woodworking hobby at age 78.

We spent the next 30-45 minutes opening cabinets and digging out tools from his organized chaos he left us. There were hand made cabinets housing a various tools. And then in each cabinet were more hand made boxes holding all the attachments. It was like opening a set of nesting dolls. Each storage box carefully crafted with appropriate holes so as not to damage a blade or a drill bit. The air was peppered with “Oh look at this!” and “Hey check this out.” and “What the heck is this for?” Our hands were woody and dusty by the time we went back upstairs.

Growing up, my Dad was a cement mason by trade. He worked long hours for Local 40, Plasters and Cement Masons and often took on Saturday jobs, in and round town, to help support his family of six. Growing up, I remember my Dad always working and always teaching. He taught many of his nephews, as well as me and my brothers and sister, not just the art of cement, but the art of construction and discovering what one can do.

the highchair my Dad made, modeled after the highchair his mother used for all six of her children

7 thoughts on “his art”

  1. This piece feels like a foreshadowing of a new hobby. I can totally see you and Billy turning wood makers… Megan and her creative side could also get in on it all. The image of the nesting dolls really brought me into this moment of remembering.


  2. Love the images here, images of the secret tools of a trade. Sounds like your father was quite a tradesman, indeed. What a wonderful experience to have a look through all the amazing vestiges of his illustrious career! And to get to do that with family members must have been so special. Thank you for sharing this experience!


  3. I enjoyed reading about the treasures you discovered that revealed so much about your dad. What a gift he had!


  4. Your description of your Dad’s tools and organization is vivid, and you create an image of a caring craftsman. I particularly like the image of exploring his workshop being “like opening a set of nesting dolls” and then your description that backs it up. I enjoyed reading this piece.


  5. What a gorgeous family heirloom that high chair is! Looks like it will be around when you eventually have grandkids.

    I cannot even imagine going through my dad’s tools. He told me he needed to bring back an offset screwdriver to repair something in my house the next time he came to town. I had to Google that. 😉


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