Tool Stories

  Pursuing the Wild Geese by Roy Griggs


Early last spring, on a bright sunny comfortable day I set off in pursuit of a stash of what was described to me as user tools, the remnants of some type of collection long broken up and picked over.  What made this group of tools unusual was their location.  They were located in the basement of a city courthouse not too far away, but far enough it required a day-off.

Having planned and anticipated this little trip for a while, I left home with a lite heart and a skeptical anticipation.  Kissed SWMBO, rubbed the dog's head, and said see ya' later.  A quick stop to get some breakfast burritos, hit the toll-way and set the cruise on 75, now it's time to eat...

Oh crap, I missed my turn... can't turn around on the toll-way, okay we'll let George drive while I look at the map.  Yeah I can get off here and go cross-country on this two lane, should be some pretty country.  Spent a lazy hour or so cruising the country road looking at the trees and thinking about the chainsaw in the back of the truck, wish I was dragging my trailer. 

Well, I come to the little town which is my destination, and as with almost all small towns which have survived, I enter to find myself amongst glitzy car dealerships and McD's.  So, I go looking for the old part of downtown where I'm sure I'll find the courthouse in question.

Sure enough it is about where you would expect to find a courthouse in a small town and looks like a courthouse, columns, steps, etc.  Being a small town I was able to park right in front, "I must be on the front row"!!!

Climb down from the truck and look around, the locals are all looking at me... they probably know everyone in town, and I ain't one of them.  Nod politely and mount the steps to the front door and enter, silence... not a soul in site.  Wander thru the courthouse corridors, looking for someone.  Anyone...waaay in the back I come across a younger gentleman in his early forties or so.  I politely introduce myself and go on to explain the purpose of my visit... to a blank stare. 

Well, he proceeds to tell me he is the city property manager and if there were tools in the basement, he would know, and there were no tools.  Seeing my look of utter disappointment he offers to show me the basement, and just being polite I agreed to go look with him.  He might be wrong, you know.  A dark and dingy place full of the dreck of municipal office furniture, but we poke around a minute or two and chit chat.  Finally I opine that there don't seem to be any tools there except the mop and bucket and I'm really not interested in them.  Which elicits a small laugh from my host and we leave the basement.  I thank him for the tour and proceed toward the door, not nearly a straight line task.  On the way out I spy an elderly lady who may have been there when the courthouse was built.  Not willing to totally give up hope, I stop and ask her if she's ever heard the story.  Nope.

Disappointed, I head for home looking for likely places to stop and look for tools.  Found a few places but no tools I was interested in.  After about 4 hours on the road I decided to stop at one of my favorite anteek mauls about 15 minutes from my house.

Upon entering I was greeted by the lady behind the counter with "oh, you're in luck, Bill brought in a few tools this morning".  Wandering, as fast as possible, back to Bill's stall I look down to see a Stanley #8, be still my beating heart.  Picking it up, hummm heavy, I see it doesn't have a blade, and as I take it apart I see the frog is broken-off near the top, But it's the only #8 I've come across so it's deficiencies were noted with an "I can fix that attitude".  Black Krylon paintjob, tight knob with a price tag tied to it, I haven't looked yet. Preferring to decide how bad I want the plane before I see what he wants for it.  Solid tote with a good portion of the horn broken off, I can fix that.  Okay peek at the tag, it gonna be high because it's pre-lateral...$16!!!  Sold and I won't even quibble.

So, I didn't really go on a wild goose chase, I just drove the long way around to get to one of my usual haunts where I found a nice tool, for a decent price (the $40 in gas doesn't count)!


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