Hello friends, I have been meaning to share some tales of a wonderful trip I took at the end of August to upstate NY. Finally I have the chance to get this story and the pictures uploaded. I hope you may enjoy this blog and I thank you for taking a moment and reading….here we go!..........
The road was a winding ride through the beautiful tall green trees of upstate NY. The mountains were a backdrop of a totally peaceful environment showing strength and inviting calm. Around this area the folks that live here operate at a much different pace and lifestyle. You can leave your barn/garage open and go out to the store and you’ll come back and everything is still there…lol. Maybe we need to think about that…I guess that should not be such a funny statement should it? Where and how did we lose such an trusted faith in our fellow neighbors in most areas of this great country?
I found the people here very hard working, experienced, easy going but nobody’s fool. Many grow up shooting a rifle, crossbow, using a knife, and somehow crime is extremely low in this area, perhaps another lesson for us to ponder in our increasing troubled times and gang growing youth.
It was a nice sunny day and me and my girlfriend were off to visit her dad Topper. My past blog work has included Topper, he’s a very interesting character.
To my lucky surprise just at the beginning of a 2 minute ride up the hill to Topper’s house we found an older lady having an outside auction in her front yard. We pulled over and took a few minutes to look some things over….no worries, old hand tools appeared! There were at least 8-9 old hollows and rounding planes but far out of whack and way too worn for my latest craving of old relics to tinker with. I rooted around in a bucket of about 15-20 various rusty files, screwdrivers and pieces of this and that although still nothing I could not live without.
Then…..she sat on the edge of the first of 3 tables, rusty, old, and calling my name….a saw vice!!!! Oh boy, was I quick to wrap my hands on that and begin to see what worked and what didn’t. The wing nut was half broke off but the actual job of the tool seemed to vice up fine. I figured with some WD-40 to the rescue I could see positive things in using this piece, so I had to get a price for it! I approached the kind old lady and asked “Good afternoon, how much?” “Ten dollars” she replied. I was almost as quick as John Wayne in “The Shootist” drawing that ten dollar bill out of my wallet…lol. I recall past annoying ebay scenarios more than a few times and got tired of the endless bidding for one of these as the prices got so out of hand with the shipping.
But not today, this was a really nice vice and honestly a terrific price for something that worked!
With vice in hand we were onward and upward to Toppers!
I think the cool part of living your life is if you stick around long enough perhaps you may be blessed with meeting a few good and unforgettable people. I have been very lucky to meet some interesting and good folks in my short time. Topper is one of those people. I don’t know anyone else like him, he’s an outlaw of sorts, a teacher, a joker, a man of incredible instincts. He is not in any way a weekend warrior of hunting, fishing, or wood skills. Topper is a part of the woods and the woods are a part of him. Topper is one of the most respected deer hunters there is in that section of upstate NY.
So you can only imagine the knowledge of many things he shares within 5 minutes of just casual chatter at his kitchen table, take notes…there is a a lot of it..lol.
From the various plants, trees, animals, leaves, guns, knives, beer, deer, venison, poker…haaaa and his beloved China Buffett…lol, I never find spending some time with Topper ever to be boring. As you carry on forward with conversation you take notice of how Topper hears and sees everything, it is amazing his delicate senses to the sounds, although I suppose that is the many years of hunting that have provided him with that and many other skills.
After a well spent afternoon with us three taking a small hike and seeing the various trees, plants and portions of lakes we headed back to his house so I could …..look in his barn….oh yeah…the tool junky within ….took me over…haaaa, get ready friends and let the search begin!
The barn doors opened and that wonderful smell of old wood, engine oil and history rushed into my senses. It was dim inside but once my eyes adjusted the treasures unfolded. A bow saw….a real old school rusty bow saw. A few hickory handled axes in the corner next to his old blue tractor. An old wooden beat to hell tote with some rusty chains intertwined with some nice old drill braces, files, and a rugged small crow bar. A huge eggbeater shoulder drill off to the side with a portion of an old hand plane. A white pale sat towards the one corner and sticking awkwardly in the center of cluttered parts and pieces was a nice old handsaw! I pulled the old lovely out for a look, a ton of caked rust and paint decorated the years of the blade. It had good teeth but was slightly warped, just like me….lmao. Nonetheless I loved it and envisioned in my minds eye of what a good cleaning session could make it look like again.
Here are some photos of the saw before and after:
Topper sat inside the edge of the barn upon his riding mower like a jolly Santa Clause in a junk pile…saying “Take it, I ain’t gonna use it.”
I was truly like a kid in a country hardware store with all of these fantastic treats that I could clean and possibly use again! Saw sets large and small, a great compadre to my latest saw vice purchase! A shoulder plane, a leather punch, some additional aged jagged this and rusty ole that…the list kept growing!
As the list grew Topper continued “Take it, I ain’t gonna use it.” What a wonderful gift and I realized he saw the joy in my finds as I continued to contort myself around tractor tires and various boxes of parts searching like a kid on Christmas morning for more toys.
My beautiful girlfriend laughed with her Dad seeing just how much of a goof I was over a pile of things most would be relieved to chuck into the dumpster…hey we all have our own song to sing and mine has melodies of sweet woodcraft and planed pine shavings for all…lol.
Here are a few pics of what I was able to salvage with this hand saw. It is Warranted Superior medallion Dec 27, 1887. It will require some light anvil work to attempt to straighten the blade out more, as well as a nice sharpening that my newly purchased saw vice can provide. If it cannot be used it can remain a wonderful time piece to hang in my shop and enjoy. I really cherish these old tools as most of them were Topper’s father’s. His dad was a carpenter and some of these very same tools may have been handed down to Topper’s Dad from his Grandfather, pretty neat stuff indeed.
It is important to keep these old tools and their owners legacy alive. With caring and a little cleaning we can once again share their history, see their tool marked stories on parts of their beaten bodies of hard work from a past time.
As you drive around some old country roads you never know and it is sure fun to think, what may lie inside some old barn. As the summer high pines stand tall and the waters flow true and strong there can always be old treasures, green mountains and great fortunes.
The tools as always were only an added bonus for it was the quality of the company that made the entire time a real blast. Perhaps the real favorite of it all was remembering to snap a picture of me and Topper.
It reminds me of a fun moment at lunch we shared. All 3 of us were at the China Buffet…of course…lol. At the end of our pig out fest we in true tradition read our fortune cookies. Topper read his message and it went something like this “You are surrounded by people that care about you” Amen to that, and thank you Topper, your fortune was right on target.
Topper and me.
May all of your fortunes be as great and thank you for reading!
-- "Always continue to learn, laugh and share!" JJW