Tuesday 19 January 2016

So Cheap

I did something today that I have very rarely done in the past forty years.

When I was in grade seven and eight, once a week we would go to another school for the afternoon and take Industrial Arts. The boys only of course because the girls were busy taking Home Economics. The girls would learn how to sew, cook and keep a house and we boys would learn how to use tools to manufacture and repair things. There was no crossing the gender barrier, only girls could take Home Ec and only boys I.A. I guess they were trying to raise good little wives and husbands who would contribute to our society. They didn’t factor drugs and rock and roll into their plans for us.

It was something I looked forward to every week, just to get out of our school and into another was pretty cool. The first day of I.A. in grade seven, the instructor gathered us together and held up two tools. He said “Let’s get this over with now. I don’t want to hear any giggles or snickering the next time I talk about these. This is a prick punch and this is a bastard file!” Of course we all giggled and snickered every time we heard the name and I still do to this day. It just occurred to me that I never learned what a prick punch or a bastard file looked like. Too busy giggling I guess.
 Image result for prick punchImage result for bastard file
I remember turning a bowl on a lathe, but something catastrophic must have happened to it because I don’t remember ever bringing it home. The only thing I remember bringing home in two years was a letter holder made from bent steel and painted. The instructor was so anal that it took forever to get him to okay you to move on to the next stage of a project. Not much of what he taught has stuck through the years. I remember a little about wood turning, a smidge about how to bend metal and everything about how to clean paint brushes.

I don’t know why that one thing stuck with me, but it sure did. I can still visualize the room where we would clean the brushes in turpentine, then shake off the excess turpentine (no waste), brush what was left on old newspapers and then wash the brush four times with soap and water. That was for oil based paint of course as latex paints had just recently been developed and would take a few years to filter into Industrial Arts classes.

I have always cleaned my brushes, rollers, paint cans and paint trays just as soon as I finish a painting job. I have the first brush that I bought just after we were married and although it rarely gets used, it is a good back up brush. Rollers are more difficult to clean and I can only make them last a few years, because the nap seems to flatten out after five or so uses. Maybe ten…it all depends on how cheap I am feeling.
 Image result for old paint brush
Today after I finished painting the kitchen pantry I just tossed the roller without even trying to clean it. It was an old roller and I have a few others in various stages of wear. Interestingly enough, the roller and handle mechanism broke while I was painting. It had been with me about forty years. I didn’t toss it out because I may be able to repair it. Maybe…

I wonder what that old, anal I.A. instructor would say if he knew. “Don’t be so cheap! Those things are a buck at the dollar store.”

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