Willy-nilly Workshop




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Willy-nilly Workshop

My paternal grandfather was born in Norway in 1886, he was a very big man, a no-nonsense individual. His size 12-14 shoes came from the Mason Shoe Company. I think the shoe size depended on which ones were on sale at the time.
Willy-nilly or topsy-turvy had no place in his daily lifestyle. He and my grandmother farmed a small farm in South Dakota, USA all of their lives. They always had a huge garden and kept about 200 laying hens, raised their own beef and pork. They milked a few cows and separated the cream from the milk. They farmed with horses until the 1940’s.

Grandpa was a stickler for record keeping. He kept a ledger book and he also kept a diary. The Ledger book did not need the use of a calculator but He kept a record of their budgets. Weekly it might be less than $12.00 or $15.00, income from selling eggs, cream and butter. That income was spent at the grocery store, sometimes they just traded eggs for groceries. Gas and kerosene were used as little as possible.

Times were very hard for common folks in 1929. Grandpa had to sell some cattle to help pay the farm expenses at the bank. The Cattle didn’t bring a whole lot of money but He put it in the bank. The next day, Wall Street Crashed and the banks closed. Grandpa never had any faith in banks after that and lost some faith in his fellow man I do believe.
He felt the banks and Wall Street we’re playing fast and loose, willy-nilly, a helter Skelter attitude with the people’s money. Haphazard business deals and greed brought everything tumbling down. Today’s speculators might cause a repeat of the, Brother Can You Spare A Dime days.

On a lighter note grandpa had a very modest workshop on the side of the old granary, kind of a lean-to shop but it was out of the weather. Everything was where he wanted it in his little shop. There were used nails that had been straightened with care in old coffee cans next to a few new nails. There was old spark plugs in a few old rusty cans. What anyone wants with old spark plugs I never did figure out, but I save some. Old paint cans in one corner, not frozen, before latex paint. A huge wooden butter churn from when they sold a lot of butter. Window glass in a special location. A foot pedal powered grinding stone, a vice and hand operated drill press were fascinating, a kerosene barrel finished the inventory

The main thing was his precious hand tools, there where no power tools, we had no power. His tools, many of them brought from Norway we’re all laid out in their designated places. Grandpa did have nails driven into all the walls to hang items on, some tools hung on nails right above the workbench. There were many nails on all four walls, very convenient in the days before shelving units. I thought it was worth the trip to see the numerous hanging wall items.

One day grandpa must have taken too long a nap. My brother and I did a little exploring in his shop, the door was never locked, I believe it was Grandpa’s intention that it was off limits to kids. My brother and I trod on forbidden ground, the shops dirt floor and did a few projects of our own. We were off on a different part of the farm when Grandpa got done with his nap and walked out to his shop.

We could hear a lot of hollering in the Norwegian tongue and then the words, EVERYTHING IN HERE IS SCATTERED WILLY-NILLY, THE WHOLE PLACE IS TOPSY TURVY! Boys, where are you at?


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