Page 13 - Discover Summer 2023
P. 13

Throw It Out!

        The days of repairing things are long gone...

                                                                                             By Ken Britske

           Those three dirty words: Throw it out. The days      repair or repurpose anything that crosses his work
        of repairing something are long gone. That wasn’t       bench. He is a tinker, one of a dying breed.
        the norm a few decades ago, when an item stood
                                                                   My dad, Ted, a veteran Navy man, was born
        a better chance of being repaired by a person,
                                                                in 1930, right at the start of the depression. Just
        keeping it from taxing our landfills. I refer to that
                                                                about everything he was given had been handed
        person as a "tinker”. This is someone who has the
                                                                down, from his clothes to his toys. Clothes were
        time, patience, and some common sense, and is
                                                                stitched and patched, and toys were glued and
        not afraid to tackle such a repair before disposing
                                                                taped. Nothing was discarded. (And why is it
        of the item.
                                                                that today we pay top dollar for jeans that are
           When something breaks or no longer works,            already ripped?) His dad Ben was a carpenter by
        we say those three dirty words; throw it out!           trade, and was quite talented. Most of his hand
        Every time those words are angrily uttered,             tools were handmade, and many are still in the
        preceded by a few choice expletives, a tinker           family some 100 years later. When a saw blade
        somewhere drops his hammer and screwdriver.             became dull, it was sharpened, not discarded and
        Very rarely will you hear a tinker let those words      replaced with new. Money was in short supply, so
        cross his/her lips. He or she will revisit an item      what could be repaired was repaired, what could
        several times as it gets shuffled around the work       repurposed was repurposed. My Grandfather was
        shop. If it cannot be repaired or repurposed, he or     a tinker also.
        she will reluctantly whisper the inevitable: Throw
                                                                   Gramps could always be found in the basement
        it out …
                                                                with some new repair or repurposed invention
           As spring cleaning begins, many tinkers are          on his workbench. His "tinks" would range from
        on high alert. Those three dirty words echo from        birdhouses to garden statues, or carts to haul
        coast to coast. Attics will be emptied, closets         ashes, to a sifting bin to sort out un-burned coal
        organized, and garages cleaned out. There will          clinkers. He was quite a painter, and he would
        soon be a gold mine for all tinkers, just sitting on    bring his thoughts to life on any canvas on which
        the curbs for the taking. The race is on to beat the    he could stroke his brush. His canvases, as odd
        trash collectors as they haul away so many good         as they were, could be both sides of a pull-down
        finds. This used to be very common, but tinkers         window shade, with a lively floral pattern on one
        nowadays are few and far between. In the blink of       side, and peaceful winter scenes on the other.
        an eye, these old timers will soon be a thing of the    Another was a life-size, cross-eyed Santa that he
        past.                                                   painted on our hunting cabin bedroom wall.

           My dad is a tinker, and has been for all of his         Today I still consider my dad to be a tinker,
        92 years. He now swings his hammer with a little        although he does not tinker out of need, but as a
        less force, and turns his screw driver with a little    hobby. This doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have one
        less torque, but he always fights back against          eye on the trash piles as he travels to a doctor’s
        those three words. He will always try his best to       appointment. He now fills his winter days sitting

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