Artifacts of the long-gone-man
“He was a carpenter and contractor,” said the man running the estate sale at the little ranch-style house. “He died about 15 years ago and she just passed away this year.”
Indeed, the house looked as if about 20 years had passed since it had any serious maintenance. But it was so well-built in the first place, that it had weathered the time without much loss.
I went into the garage. The organized, productive mind of the long-gone-man reflected clearly in cleverly designed cabinets, drawers, and shelves for every imaginable tool, fastener, or part. Many of the power-tools had been custom-made. He could measure and calculate. His mind had already travelled the length of every process by the time his hands opened its beginning.
Most people came into the garage, cast a quick glance, and went into the house to look for silverware and jewelry, and to wonder at the purpose of kitchen and craft implements left behind by the woman who survived him for a decade and a half.
I bought a little reference calculator, “Key to the STEEL SQUARE”. When it was designed and marketed, two world wars lay in the future, and vast expanses of what is now suburban America were not even yet pressed into service as farmland. Reference calculators like this one are a wonder to contemplate. The typography and design present a standard of clarity that few modern devices can claim. Its creator would probably work for Google today.
I also bought a pencil box, because I wanted one of the pencils in it:
’MADE IN USA 8450 A.W. FABER “ELECTION PENCIL” VERY SOFT’
The pencil has a string connected to the back, with a little screw eyelet so it can be affixed to a voting booth shelf. It was used in a method of voting that produced a paper record of each vote cast. This is the pencil of Democracy.
Election fraud was still possible with that anachronistic system, but it required the cooperation of very large groups of people and could be easily prevented by proper poll management and supervision. Certainly it was not possible for one person seated at a console and armed with a code or two, to sway the outcome.
I can’t guess at the politics of the long-gone-man. He may not have been one to talk much. But our town is probably a veritable showplace of his work, and will be for the next century or so.