by John C. Westervelt
On a mild fall morning, I decided to fix the sticking, wooden door that covers the hot water heater compartment in my garage. When the original hot water heater was replaced about twenty years ago, I removed all the wood trim around the doorway to get the old tank out and the new one in. I nailed the pieces of wood trim together but attached the trim to the frame opening with five 2 ˝ inch long quarter inch diameter lag screws for ease of later disassembly.
On this day, I removed the two screws on one side to pull the wood trim away, so I could use my saber saw to trim the sheet rock. My crowbar was a necessity for raising the wood into position to put the screws back in place. A crowbar is a piece of steel one inch in diameter and two feet long. On one end is a three inch crook like a shepherd’s staff. The other end is flat and slightly bent.
Later in the day, nestled in a comfortable chair for thirty minutes listening to Joni Eareckson Tada sing before starting supper, I thanked my dad for my inherited crowbar and continued by thanking him for his character. He had no way of knowing what the seed he planted in a young son would produce.
From about 1910 to 1914, my dad and two brothers had a merry-go-round that operated in Norman, Oklahoma on the Fourth of July. It was taken to nearby towns for various celebrations. My dad had a four foot long, blue, wooden toolbox partially filled with tools used to assemble the merry-go-round.
My dad and mother were married in the prosperous days of the 1920s and had three children a year apart with the last one born the same year as the stock market crash of 1929. My dad came out of the Great Depression of the 1930s with the blue toolbox and no money.
During World War II, my brother Wallace and I went to Oklahoma City’s Classen high school at seven in the morning and finished at noon. This let us join the work force depleted by men entering the armed services. Wallace worked at a bank. I worked for the telephone company.
My dad died suddenly in 1943 from a perforated ulcer. As a school teacher, Mother had no discretionary money, so she accepted the offer of my brother and me to pay the $150 funeral expense with savings from our part-time jobs. On that day, two teenage boys became men. And you know, I am completely satisfied with my inheritance - my dad’s character and his well-worn crowbar.
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