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Bins of Miscellany

When I was a boy we moved to a farm. Back of the house was a big un-painted building that became my favorite place and the starting point of almost all our enterprises. Daddy stored his tools there, and when he finished lining the walls with open bins, he proclaimed this place "the warehouse."

Practically empty at first, the bins gradually filled with what we found in the woods, on the side of the road or in the street. We were taught to pick up everything, down to a single rusty washer, and throw it in a bin. The more you had collected the more likely an object would be there to "come in handy" when something broke down.

One bin contained plumbing tees and elbows, another, odd steel plates. An old gun stock and threaded rod protruded here, pieces of wire there, plow points and clevises cluttered one bin, rusty hinges and clamps shared another. The wooden frame of a McClellan saddle rested on a deerskin and a goat hide.

They lined the walls, these bins of nuts, bolts, screws, washers, harness leather, rope, paint cans, buckets, and broken things, all patiently waiting for an opportunity to serve. And hanging from nails, lying on shelves, and tossed in wooden boxes on the floor were the tools to put them together ---- saws, hammers, planes, screw drivers, chisels, files, soldering irons, and blow torches.

I would watch Daddy, a broken part in one hand, pillaging through the bins until he finally plucked out an object that recommended itself. Like magic, pieces always seemed to come together whether repairing or making something from scratch. When Daddy invented his pea-thresher we made the hopper from a wooden shotgun shell case and completed the machine with spikes, a cast-iron crank, an old electric fan and shafts from the bins.

It was in this dark warehouse that I fell in love with tools and making things ... white oak skis from a diagram in the World Book, little laurel frames for school pictures, and model cars to enter in the Fisher Body Craftsman's Guild contest.

Today I garner raw material from salvage yards, sidewalks, railbeds----wherever opportunity presents itself, and store the plunder in bins, drawers and corners, as my father did. Surrounded by tools, machines, and my own bins of miscellany I feel the same mysterious stirrings of pleasure, delight, and confidence that from the jumble, pieces will leap out and go together with a little manipulation just as they did in the warehouse on the farm when I was a boy.

from Hill of Beans, my memoir

More images from the BINS OF MISCELLANY here.