Saturday, November 26, 2011

Design Find: Combine (or tractor) Gear Candle Holders. Courtesy of The Tool Shed.

I took a little trip to my Grandma's house back in September (it might possibly have been October) to meet my Dad there and to catch up on...farming. Not that I know much about it. The point is, it was perfectly beautiful fall weather. The kind that makes you want to weep and clutch your chest and lasts five minutes.

This is Grandma's house (a panoramic shot via Autostitch); it is located deep in the heart of southern Illinois between Benton and Mt. Vernon and not nearly far enough away from the maximum security prison where John Gotti died for comfort. The house is surrounded on all sides by cultivated fields. The building to the extreme right in the photograph is: The Tool Shed. The other stuff besides the house and The Tool Shed are much newer.

The Tool Shed has been there since perhaps the 1940's (? maybe longer). When I was a kid growing up (I'd like to say mostly in the eighties, but I'd be lying) and spending holidays and vacations at Grandma's house, the Tool Shed was (well, and still is) the most likely spot in which to find male persons of the farming persuasion. I spent many early summer/fall/winter/spring evenings perched in my three step booster chair watching as the creamy whipped potatoes and fluffy yeast rolls slowly cooled on the table while we waited for my Dad, his brother(s), and their Dad (or some configuration of this group) to deign to leave The Tool Shed, come in the back door, wash their hands with Lava soap, and sit down to dinner so they and the rest of us could eat.

There was no eating before they got there. And there was no discernable sign of impatience on the part of my Grandma, no matter how long the pause between placing dinner on the table and the time the eating began. Nobody had to be told what time dinner was served because it was on the table at the same time every day and that time was either five or six o'clock, I can't remember which. Occassionally, like kids do, I would become convinced I was in danger of collapse from hunger if I had to wait another minute and, on those days, I was sometimes sent out to The Tool Shed to remind those who already knew dinner was ready that dinner was ready.

Not that I went IN The Tool Shed. No, I'd climb off my booster chair, head outside, hop down the the front porch steps, walk down the sidewalk, and begin crunching my way across the gravel drive going around the old Studebaker and past the big gas tank (both gone now), until the massive door of The Tool Shed yawned in front of me, exhaling the scent of motor oil from its inky inscrutable depths. There were always guys milling around out front, sometimes just my family members (Dad, uncles, Grandpa), at other times other men as well. They were usually smoking. They paid me little mind, and knew why I was there.

"Dinner is ready" wasn't exactly a newsflash.

I'd learned the trek was futile by the time I was in double digits. As a teenager, I could be found at the dinner table chin in hand and resigned to cooling potatoes as inevitable fact of life. By then, however, I'd thought to wonder just what the hell was so fascinating out there and to include "Stag film playing secretly in back room" on my list of imaginary possible explanations. It would have to be good to distract one from Grandma's delicious horticulture beans and perfectly latticed fruit pies (as often as not topped with real Dairy Queen frozen soft serve), I reasoned.

Anyway, honestly, the stag film theory is unlikely (but I'm open to anyone's confession--leave it in the comments).

And on that day, the day just a few months ago, the perfect fall day in either September or October, fast forward thirty years or so and I actually got to poke through The Tool Shed my very own self. Which is where I found the items in question:

Don't these just scream VINTAGE CANDLE HOLDERS to you? They did to me. To my father and uncle who accompanied me they screamed:

Something is seriously wrong with the person who would think of these items as "home decor".

Of course, I'm not the type that would be deterred by such an attitude. And I think they're very nice, don't you? They are spare (extra? important?) parts off a tractor or combine originally. Stay tuned for another vintage find on that same expedition and subsequent re-mix.

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