|Project by mgb_2x||posted 1014 days ago||1035 views||0 times favorited||7 comments|
it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
English novelist (1812 – 1870)
It was the early 60s and my parents both sharecropper kids from south east Missouri moved to the big town of St Louis to get far away from the farm and into a factory. Shortly thereafter they moved to the suburbs north of town into one of the 1200 sq ft track homes that covered the land. The Hazelwood school district was the beneficiary of this rapid growth and schools were popping up all over, but even with the building programs the schools were packed.
Mr Daniels was the wood shop teacher at Kirby Junior High. He was a very kind and gentle old man probably just spending his last few years getting ready to retire. The class room was well equipped with cabinets full of handtools, row upon row of heavy maple work tables with fancy vices and power tools of all shapes and sizes covered the floor. The shop classes had been built with the very best of everything as might be expected back in the day.
The kids made up the sweet spot of the baby boomer generation and came by the busload. Ready for a taditional eductional experience, the boys went to shop class and the girls went to Home Ec. Typical of kids that days we were mostly normal, some were jocks others were brainiacs, mostly well behaved but we had a few of the troublemakers.
We all entered the classroom and saw some tools and equipment that was new to most of us. Probably a handsaw, hammer and a can of nails was the most we had seen at home. Mr. Daniels explained the rules of the shop, demonstrated the equipment, showed us the projects we would make and then…as I recall…it all fell apart. 30 or 40 jr. high kids, tools in hand can create vast quantities of sheer bedlam. In hindsight what may have worked with a group of 10 or 12 did not translate to the masses.
I remember that everyday we had a pretty good idea of what we needed to do next and Mr Daniels hopped from one work table to the next giving advice. As I recall the scrap bin was always full, seems you can only plane a part so far. We made it through the semester mostly intact, I was accidentally stabbed in the hand with a scratch awl by a good friend. We all had a few projects to show at the open house and take home to our parents.
Without a doubt Charles Dickens words perfectly described the jr high wood shop that I attended. The class was full of contrasts, the good, the bad and the ugly. It was certainly new and exciting and and started me down a path that has provided me with much happiness over the years.
The walnut mallet pictured is my only project from that class that survived these last 40 years. I suspect it may have survived as I never once found a use for it. Maybe others can share their stories and pics of where their woodworking journey began.
-- "aim small miss small" m g breedlove