The Mechanic's Memoir
I'm back home in Massachusetts for the holidays and find myself in my parent's basement rummaging around. Kara and I are down there using the workshop to fashion some Pinterest-inspired gifts. I'm darting back and forth to gather supplies, navigating the workshop based off my childhood memory of tool locations. The smells of vintage steel and grease we were unlocking from the old toolboxes sparked a barrage of memories. I soon realize not much has been altered down there over the past 20 years, but so much has changed. The mechanical knowledge I've acquired since last working from that collection was opening up a new understanding of everything that laid in those drawers since the 40's.
My grandfather was an aviation mechanic and these were mainly his tools, passed down to my father 30+ years ago. Cancer caused by the toxic chemicals mechanics were exposed to back then got to him before I was born. Combing through his tool collection has always been the closest I've felt to knowing him. The types of tools he had, the wear patterns, the alterations and organization methods all helped define who he was.
He marked his hand tools with 3 dot punches, but not every tool, only the ones that were important to him in some way. Quality brands like Snap-On and SK often made the cut, as did the specialty tools and one's with alterations for a specific task. The duplicate tools defined the kind of work he did on a regular basis. A wide assortment of torque wrenches, oiling cans and measuring devices tells me he likely worked on precision mechanisms - something I dove into only a few years ago but inherently find the most rewarding. In a way this collection is the memoir he left behind. Every time I come back to thumb through its pages I learn something new.