The privilege of work

By Evelyn Richardson - Here and There

Having the right tools is a major factor in doing a job well and with the least effort. Knowing this, my parents capitalized on the idea. To get me involved in the world of work, and maybe stick with it, they provided me with tools fashioned to fit my size.

Before I was big enough to turn the Dazey churn dasher to give my mother’s arm a brief rest, I had an “old fashioned” dasher to push up and down in a quart jar while she was churning. Probably I never got butter to “come/gather” with that small amount of cream, but I felt important being involved in the chore of churning.

To complete the process, I had a miniature butter paddle that my father carved from cedar in exactly the same design as my mother’s grown-up paddle. Smoothed to perfection with the finest grade of sandpaper. It stands today with other cooking utensils, and memories, in a crock on my kitchen counter.

My mother sewed cute aprons just my size to lure me into the kitchen where tiny cookie cutters and rolling pin awaited.

I had my own milking stool. It has a smaller seat and my father made the legs of lighter weight wood so it would be easier for me to move from cow to cow.

Most kids had a rake, hoe and shovel for playing in the dirt to prime us for digging in dirt that mattered. As I outgrew my shorter-handled cultivating tools, my father shifted me to a lightweight hoe that he had shopped the hardware stores and found. It became everybody’s hoe to use around delicate plants and in close places throughout the years.

Likewise, I had my own intermediate size pitchfork for tossing hay to the cows. I drove nails with a lightweight hammer until my strength increased to the point that I could manage a larger one.

What we called buckberry bushes were fashioned into a broom for sweeping leaves in the yard. After my father had finished a sturdy bush broom wrapped around the end of an old mop handle, he cut smaller bushes and used a smaller stick for a handle for my own buck brush broom. It helped to keep my “open air” playhouse under the big maple tree neat and clean.

Believe it or not, I was most proud of my custom-made tobacco peg. My father, as he did the butter paddle, carved it with care, measuring my hand to make it fit. He smoothed and sanded as if he were building fine furniture so it would not have rough places to make even more blisters on my hand.

Mind you, my assistance was minute in the backbreaking work of setting tobacco “with the season,” but having my own peg encouraged me to plod through the mud farther down the long row than I would have with a bigger tool.

No doubt my parents’ nurture of me in the world or work served to shape my lifelong philosophy. I feel sorry for persons who have not been trained to find pleasure and satisfaction in the privilege of work.

By Evelyn Richardson

Here and There

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