The,"Little Things" in life.........................

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knife7knut
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The,"Little Things" in life.........................

Post by knife7knut » Mon Apr 19, 2021 10:28 pm

Today as I was working on a project of making a tiny hood out of aluminum for a scale model truck that I have had since I was a kid,I happened to notice something I hadn't seen before on the small hammer that belonged to my grandfather. In almost miniscule letters across the mark side of the hammer(it has a Keen Kutter logo stamped there)was my grandfather's initials and name! The letters were uniformly straight indicating that they were probably made with a single punch;not surprising since he was a prototype machinist for General Electric for many years.To give you an idea of the size,the area it is on could be easily covered with a dime.
I've had this hammer for going on 35 years and although I remembered seeing the Keen Kutter logo,never noticed his name.The hammer resides in my computer room on a magnetic strip with many other small tools where I use it for a number of things. Seeing it brought back a lot of good memories.
I grew up living in my grandparents' home and my grandfather was instrumental in forming what I was eventually to become.He was very strict and took no back talk from me(I only needed one lesson to confirm that!) and was also a man of many talents.
He was born on the fourth of July 1876;exactly one hundred years after the onset of the American Revolution and was raised by his aunt;due to his mother dying shortly after he was born.He grew in one of the most inventive periods of our history;seeing the birth of the automobile and the airplane and even the electric light.
All things mechanical fascinated him as did his love for knowledge. In a time where many people barely went to school past the third grade he was a high school graduate. One of his big loves was that of the automobile and he set about learning everything he could about them.One of his first jobs was that of a chauffeur (he held license #6 from the state of Massachusetts)and a mechanic for a wealthy gentleman from Boston. The man had a fascination for French cars and owned several;among them a Darracq;a Panhard-LaVasseur,and a DeDion- Bouton. He also bought a Stevens-Duryea and had that for awhile before deciding to sell it.
My grandfather told him he would like to buy it but wondered if he could pay for it in installments. The man must have really liked my grandfather because he GAVE him the car!
Later on he went to work for General Electric as a machinist and though he also had a passion for airplanes he was raising a family by then so he had to settle for smaller sized planes. I don't know if he ever built any airplanes but I do know that he built several model airplane engines that ran. One was a seven cylinder radial and the other was a 14 cylinder(2 rows of 7 cylinders each).The crankcases were machined from a block of aluminum;the cylinders were turned on a lathe and fitted with iron liners.The master connecting rod was a work of art and the only things he didn't make were the spark plugs and some of the fasteners holding them together. I remember him down in his workshop in the cellar with one of them bolted into a vise and fired up;blowing smoke all over the cellar and making a devilish racket.Didn't make my grandmother very happy either!
My grandmother passed away when I was ten years old from complications of diabetes and a weak heart and he was basically left to raise me by himself.My mother had her own problems and tried to help.
After I had begun to hang out with shall we say some undesireables he took it upon himself to send me off to his cousin's farm for the summer in hopes it might straighten me out a bit.(See my other story about that).It must have worked because when I did come back home I had a whole different attitude(for awhile anyway).
One of the things I remember is his collection of old Edison cylinder records and the two machines he was constantly trying to keep running.After my grandmother died I would often see him standing at the machine playing one song over and over and it must have been something they both liked because there was always a tear in his eye when he played it.
When I dragged home my first car(the body and frame of a 1933 Hudson coupe that a couple of friends helped me move balanced on a wheelbarrow with 2x6's)he at first said he didn't want it in the yard but finally relented and let us put it way back in the lower yard.That will be the subject of another story at another time.
He offered to let me use his tools as long as they were promptly cleaned and put back after use and that I did faithfully. He even helped me a couple times when I needed it.
One of his passions was the raising of racing pigeons. He built a coop in the back of the garage that allowed the birds to come in but not go out until he opened the hatch.It wasn't very high inside and you had to stoop over to walk around inside it.The floor of it was just high enough to clear the hood of his 48 Studebaker;later to be replaced by a 1952 model.
The first car I remember being in the garage was a 1934 Ford two door sedan.I remember it because one day when he was away with his pigeon friends I decided to try a little driving practice with it.I backed it out to the end of the driveway and then pulled it back inside. I did this several times successfully and then on back out again put a nice crease in the right rear fender. Never did tell him how that happened.
One problem with the pigeon coop was that not only could the pigeons get in but also any of the neighborhood cats that might be contemplating a pigeon dinner. They also found themselves unable to get out and when my grandfather discovered one of them inside he would get up in the coop and grab the cat (barehanded and never getting scratched that I recall)and taking him to the back yard where he would give the cat instructions on how to breathe underwater. They never learned.They were then relegated to ,"pet cemetery" next to the rhubarb patch and grape vines.
There were many more stories to relate but I will leave you with this one.My grandfather was not really the type of person who showed much emotion towards others until the day I was leaving to got into the Navy. As I was getting ready to be driven to Logan Airport for the flight to Chicago he came up to me and shook my hand and with a tear in his eye he said,"Stay safe son and come back to us soon." That was the final time I was to see him in person.
So as I look at the markings on this little hammer I am reminded of the person who helped me become the person I am today(hopefully a good one). Thank you Arthur Rose Holbrook;I think of you every day.

Picture #1 Gramps at the wheel of a 1901 Orient Buckboard.
#2 At the wheel of his 1903 Stevens-Duryea.
#3 With my grandmother circa 1910.
#4 I think he was showing off some plant(a sunflower maybe)that he grew.
#5 A rare picture of him smiling.
#6 With my mother and me(I think I was about 12 at the time.
#7 Taken at the house just before his passing in 1965.
#8 & #9 the infamous Keen Kutter hammer.
#10 Where he is buried in Saugus Massachusetts along with my grandmother;my brother James;my mother and my aunt and uncle.
Attachments
1901OrientBuckboard with A.R.Holbrook@ the stick.JPG
1903StevensDuryea1.JPG
1903StevensDuryea2.JPG
1.JPG
2.JPG
3.JPG
4.JPG
KKHammer1.jpg
KKHammer2.jpg
RiversideCemeteryHolbrookGravestone2.JPG
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Quick Steel
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Re: The,"Little Things" in life.........................

Post by Quick Steel » Mon Apr 19, 2021 10:44 pm

Thank you for sharing those memorable events in your family history. I found it fascinating from beginning to end.
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Re: The,"Little Things" in life.........................

Post by Paladin » Tue Apr 20, 2021 12:04 am

Ray,
Another fascinating story and well written, too.

Ray
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Re: The,"Little Things" in life.........................

Post by Froe » Tue Apr 20, 2021 12:47 am

Your grandfather was remarkable man. Thanks for sharing this.
Froe

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deo-pa
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Re: The,"Little Things" in life.........................

Post by deo-pa » Tue Apr 20, 2021 8:55 pm

Keeping your grandfather’s memory alive through great stories and great photos. He would be proud of you.

Dennis

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Re: The,"Little Things" in life.........................

Post by Dinadan » Wed Apr 21, 2021 12:39 am

Very neat story and photos, K7K. The pigeons are interesting. I have never known anyone who kept pigeons. I have often thought it would be a kind of interesting hobby. Sounds like you grandfather was a man of many interests.
Mel

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Re: The,"Little Things" in life.........................

Post by Colonel26 » Wed Apr 21, 2021 12:53 am

Mr. Ray your grandfather sounds like a very interesting and good man.
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Re: The,"Little Things" in life.........................

Post by philco » Wed Apr 21, 2021 2:01 am

Ray thank you for sharing this with us. Your grandfather sounds like he was very talented and had a keen intellect. I think he passed on those traits to you. ::tu::


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knife7knut
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Re: The,"Little Things" in life.........................

Post by knife7knut » Wed Apr 21, 2021 2:41 am

philco wrote:
Wed Apr 21, 2021 2:01 am
Ray thank you for sharing this with us. Your grandfather sounds like he was very talented and had a keen intellect. I think he passed on those traits to you. ::tu::


I'm on the edge of my seat waiting to find out how one transports a car with a wheelbarrow.
The,"car" consisted of a 33 Hudson coupe body(no fenders,hood,etc.)and a bare frame(no suspension,etc.).The whole assembly might have weighed about 400 lbs. Two strong people could pick up the body(4 people could carry it) and easily pick up the frame.
We basically laid two 2x6's across the wheelbarrow and located the body and frame at 90 degrees to that(parallel to the line of travel)and lashed the body to the 2x6's and under the wheelbarrow.With one person lifting the wheelbarrow and one person on either side stabilizing it and another holding on to the front of the frame,we slowly walked it down the street to the house and into the yard. All told it was about a half mile with a slight downhill starting out and a fairly steep downhill about halfway there.That was the most difficult part of the whole journey keeping the unit from getting away from us.Luckily it was only for a distance of about a hundred feet.Also the fact that the street had recently been paved for the first time and was very smooth.
Hey! when you're 16 years old you can do anything! Right? Remind me to tell the story of riding on the fender of a 40 Chevy convertible being pushed down the road at 50 mph hanging onto a windshield wiper pivot with one hand and turning the distributor trying to get the engine to fire up.Stay tuned.
Adventure BEFORE Dementia!

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