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Straightening
Used and Bent Nails

by Nolan Maxie
Nolan Maxie

Last week I was out in the pasture rebuilding part of my goat shelter. I removed one wall and added ten feet of length to better accommodate the Nannies during birthing. More room is better for the ‘kids’ and the whole herd. I put in a small hay rack and a feed trough, too. And, for those cute little things, I added some hay bedding for these cool nights we’ve been having lately.

Goats are very curious creatures. Some of them came up real close in an effort to ‘help’ me. They had to almost stick their nose right in the action, staying close and sniffing around to see what is going on and what changes were being made to their abode. But, I like to see that! I don’t blame them. Being a Capricorn myself, I understand. I’m a lot that way too.

I caught myself, out of habit, straightening the old bent nails I had pulled out of the boards, in order to use them again. Now, I don’t have to straighten and reuse old nails anymore. It’s a habit instilled in me back in the 1940's and ‘50's by necessity and the frugality of my parents. We reused everything we could. Sometimes over and over several times. And over again!

When my Dad had a little building project around home, old boards with nails still in them, were often used. As a kid and his helper, my job was to ‘clean’ the old nails out of the boards. I would drive the nails out backwards and pull them out with a claw hammer or a crow-bar. Then I took each nail, laid it on a board and hammered the crooks and bends out of it, making it straight and reusable again.

I don’t have to do that any more. It is not very far to Home Depot, Lowes or the True-Value Hardware. But, one reason we had to practice conserving, frugality and reusing things was because we lived far, far from town and the hardware store. Not to mention, money was not in abundant supply for my rural, near poverty family. We raised our vegetables, chickens, eggs and a lot of food-stuff.

Many other old things were routinely reused. Like rusty screws. Rusty and used bolts, nuts and washers. Anything that was not ‘used up’ and still had some life in it, was reused. Going through the “Great Depression”, people had to save and reuse many things. Dad even had a shoe repair kit; a stand and awl with glue, tacks and supplies to resole our old reusable shoes. He sometimes put ‘taps’ on shoes for dancing.

Some years later, my Mother wore a lot of double-knit clothing. Usually pant suits. Double-knit wore like steel and seemed to never wear out. A neighbor encouraged Mother to get her some new clothes and quit wearing all that double-knit. Mother said, “I’ve got to wear these out first.” The neighbor said, “Why don’t you get you some new clothes and let someone else wear those out?”

Just a few years before Mother passed away, a homeless person stopped by her house and inquired if she had an old coat she could give them for the cold weather. In her frugal, saving and ‘reusable’ spirit, she asked them, “What did you do with the coat you had last winter?” But, she did finally relent and find a good ‘old’ coat for them to wear before they went merrily on their way.

But all this just reminds me once more, when I was growing up, I wore patched pants; patched shirts and socks darned heel and toe. Occasionally I had new shirts and new underwear Mother had made from twenty-five pound flour sacks she had saved in the kitchen.

That is another story in a previous life, better told later.


© Nolan Maxie
"Nolan Maxie"
January 1, 2011 Column
piddlinacres@consolidated.net

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