Old Geezers Out to Lunch

Old Geezers Out to Lunch
The Geezers Emeritus through history: The Mathematician™, Dr. Golf™, The Professor™, and Mercurious™

Sunday, May 1, 2016

I'm Not Worthy.....

I'm a Geezer, but a relatively young one—a Baby Boomer geezer. I'm not even in the same class as the geezers of the Greatest Generation. Mind you I have some degree of traditional Greatest Generation mentality. I'm known to try and fix things rather than buying new stuff. And I'll sometimes cobble together weird stuff from stuff laying around. I once created for myself a pair of lawn-aeration sandals by taking a pair of old oversized boots, cutting a wooden insole exactly the right side, inserting them into the boots, then driving long nails through the soles pointing downward, so that I could walk across the lawn and drive deep aeration holes into the turf. At the time, this was far more satisfying than spending $40 once a year to rent a lawn aerator.

Still, I don't hold a candle to the old-timers of yore...

We're now in the process of helping my now widowed mother-in-law clean out her house in anticipation of moving from a sprawling country house on a large lot overlooking Lake Pepin along the Mississippi River in southern Minnesota, into a smaller, manageable home in town. My main contribution to this endeavor is do the outdoor repairs, and  to clean out and stage the items from the garage and shed for the upcoming garage sale—the stuff owned and stored by my father-in-law, who passed away this winter at age 90-and-ten-months.

Boomer's table saw, patent-pending. 
It's a fascinating exercise, as I've learned more about this man than I knew from 40 years of being his son-in-law. But that's perhaps the way it is about any man—if you really want to know him, spend a couple days going through his garage.

Boomer was clearly a fairly obsessive/compulsive fellow, judging from the sheer amount of stuff he squirreled away. While he did not qualify as a hoarder, he was still able to store an enormous amount of strange paraphernalia into a simple two-car garage. Mind you, this was a garage in which he still parked two large Buicks. We now know that when he said he was going out to "clean out the garage," what he was really doing was rearranging things so that more stuff could be stored out there.

Industrial pressure tank  plus
compressor plus flexible copper tubing
equals perfect home air compressor
For the most part, Leonard only saved stuff that he could envision using some day. A great bulk of this stuff probably created in him a visual image of some kind of secondary McGiver-like role some day. For example, many years ago he somewhere came across what seemed like acres of extruded metal grating, as well as hundreds of feet of galvanized plumbing pipe....which he stored away behind the shed.

WTF?  we all thought. And then one day we drove down to visit one weekend to find that Boomer had built a flight of stairs 60  steps long down from the high bank of his yard all the way down to the lake shore at the base of the bluff. Each step was cut from that rigid extruded metal that he had cut into precise tread size, and the railings were fitted pieces of that galvanized piping.

Rather than throw away an old refrigerator, he put it out in the shed, where he used it as an airtight storage cabinet for paints and solvents.

Bench grinder featuring washing
machine motor

He was like that, and most of things I've now pulled out the rafters and off the shelves is stuff I can visualize a projected use that lived in his mind. Fifty-five empty coffee cans with lids.....120 empty burlap potato sacks...a huge roll of very heavy reflective mylar fabric....a partial leftover roll of old linoleum from a kitchen installation 30 years ago.

This portable rolling tool cart uses the
back end off a child's tricycle for the
rolling end. Opposite end uses wooden
handles off an on old wheel-barrow. 
Other stuff was harder to visualize a use for. A coffee can filled with 12 severed heads of golf 4-irons. Where does one get a bunch of 4-irons, and what possible use did Boomer intend for them?

The garage and home has held fully 22 coffee makers, ranging from monstrous 60-pot "event" pots to little Mr. Coffee pots. And fully 12 of these no longer work. But Leonard was a tinkerer, and surely imagined that he would play with the wiring and fix them some day. There is a strange home-made table saw cobbled together with spare parts and an electric motor and welded together by hand. The thing weighs about 200 pounds, but is still entirely functional. A huge bench grinder that built in the same way.

But one item really tells the story of who my father-in-law was. Deep in the back of the shed, I ran across this item, and it took me a minute or two to figure out what I was looking at. Instead of buying a commercial lawn edger, Boomer created his own, by taking a 12-inch table saw blade, filing down the teeth to a workable length, welding it to some kind of metal motor spool, then attaching it to a leftover mop handle he had stored with 20 other discarded broom and mop handles up in the garage rafters, and voila....

Seriously....I am not worthy.


  1. He could have been my father. Or my uncle. Or any one of that great generation who made it do, used it up, wore it out. Necessity was the mother of invention. Thank you for the wonderful inventory many of us also sorted through. You reminded me of the tool my father made for every grandchild to use. A clever hook to remove the grass from between the blocks of his hundred plus foot sidewalk to the garage. He also made the frame that molded four colored concrete blocks of various sizes that were placed like puzzle pieces for that sidewalk. I digress. Six grandchildren outfitted with a hook apiece made short work of the vegetation every spring.

  2. What an ingenious man he was and resourceful as well. Something about that generation's ability to repurpose that is absolutely impressive. That coffee can full of 4 iron heads however is an intrigue of the first order. What could those have been used for?! That is a stumper!

  3. Thank heaven my husband is unlikely to ever read this post. The last thing I need is validation for all those things tucked into dark corners of our garage, a two-car item that has only ever seen one car at a time.
    It's bad enough when some household problem arises and he disappears into the garage only to emerge with a smile and exactly the doohickey needed. Drives me nuts.

  4. He was more than a hoarder for sure, but I wouldn't want that edger to let go. :)

  5. I pity whoever has to clean up all the crap I currently possess. I really am trying to thin it out, though. I can't find half of the stuff that's buried in the piles.

  6. At that level, I'd say he was more of an inventor and amateur industrial engineer. I'm pretty good at fixing things that can't be fixed, using parts that come from something else. My wife complains about all the stuff I have in the garage, so I try to keep it all out of sight. If somebody in the family is throwing something mechanical, or electrical away. I tell them I'll do it for them, because I want to cannibalize it first. My wife just shakes her head when I do that. BUT, she doesn't shake her head when something of ours breaks down and I fix it, because I just happen to have the right type of switch, O-ring, spring, screw, bolt, spacer, tool, or whatever. Having said that, I'm nowhere near in the same class as your father in-law.