Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Just what do you do with an old tin of dried milk and sixty brass rods? .............. back in Dad's cellar in Lausanne Road

It’s odd how little bits of your parents stick to you and become part of how you see the world.

Now I fully except that physical appearance is the luck of the draw and some of us will be the spitting image of Dad while others will provoke jokes about the milkman.

Likewise the politics, music and tastes of our parents often provoke a massive swing in the other direction made more bizarre as the onset of middle age draws you back in part to a consensus.

But for me at 66 it is that tendency to save things which I know “will come in handy” but as yet have no idea exactly what that will be.

So there I was at six this morning emptying the last of a box of cereal into a bowl for Tina and without thinking carefully folded the waxed paper from the inside and set it aside with the card board box.

They will join a shed load of other bits of waxed paper and cereal boxes all neatly stored in a corner of the cellar.

All of which was my dad. He had shelves of old nuts, bolts, screws and nails all carefully wrapped in oiled paper to prevent them rusting and stored in those big tins which once held dried milk and dated from the 1940s.

These I could understand but the sixty copper spikes still in their card boxes from the Anacoda Works in Salford were a bit harder to fathom.

They had been made sometime in the 1920s and were there in Dad’s shed seventy years after they had been packaged and sent south.

But I suppose the answer is simple enough for like my grandparents he came from a time and a class which never threw anything away and who could indeed turn the odd bit of waste into something very useful.

And so with the passage of time I saw the potential for rocket ships made from those cereal boxes which our Ben lovingly played with for hours, never having mastered the word “Blast off” preferring instead “Blist off.”

Nor was he alone for both Josh and Saul in turn enjoyed their own versions of space ships along with powered cars for school projects made from a washing up bottle, some old toy wheels, and an elastic band which drove a big black propeller salvaged from some discarded Christmas gift.

Now I grant you they all looked a tad Heath Robinson but there was a magic in seeing them evolve and somewhere in the cellar a few have survived much to the pleasure of all the lads.

As for the brass rods which were designed as aerials for an early wireless they became in the fullness of time one of the objects I used in teaching history along with the wooden darning mushroom and much else from Dad’s storehouse of “useful things.”

Pictures; darning tool, from the collection of Andrew Simpson, and the tin of National Dried milk by Oxfordian Kissuth, Photographer and columnist, Germany and England. And available at WIKIMEDIA Commons,

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