Wednesday, July 10, 2013

My “Cane Collection”

I have an old wooden churn from my dad’s family that I’d always wanted to put by the front door for umbrellas and such. Unfortunately, my wife’s taste doesn’t match mine, or we could have furnished our home with family heirlooms and saved some serious money. So, the churn has sat in my bedroom with some canes in it for many years, while the umbrellas get lost between monsoons.

Being unemployed, I’ve been selling off a few things now and then and decided that the old churn might as well be one of those things. In fact, that’s part of what caused me to refinish my great-granddad’s cane recently, since it was one of the canes in the churn. I haven’t gotten around to selling the churn yet, but I HAVE refurbished four old canes, plus finished a cane and a walking stick that I’d started years ago.

In the photo below, the cane in the foreground belonged to my dad’s mother. I don’t recognize the fine grained wood; it LOOKS like some sort of “jungle-wood,” and rings have been burned around it a few places to make it resemble bamboo. Grandma has been gone since ’69, and she may have inherited it from someone else, so it’s got a few years on it. Above that is a cane that belonged to my grandma’s sister, my Great-Aunt Marie. She had it for as long as I can remember, so that makes it old as the hills. It was made by her brother, Charlie, from a maple sprout, I think, with the main root being the “handle.” Above that is my great-grandfather’s cane that I made a post on recently.

Above that one is a hickory withe cane from the wash-house at my paternal grandparents. My granddad’s mother lived in that building sometimes, so it may have been hers, but I have no way of knowing. At first, I thought it was a dark finish on the wood. Then, I realized that the bark was still on the cane. Luckily, the stripper I’d put on didn’t loosen it, perhaps because I quickly wiped it off once I realized what I had. I’d originally assumed that it was a homemade cane. Then, I noticed what appeared to be sanding marks going AROUND the cane in such a way as to make me think it had been touched to a belt-sander. The average craftsman in those days didn’t have a belt-sander, but woodworking companies would have. That makes me think it was factory made.

Second from the top is a cane made from the root and stalk of a young dogwood. It had been entwined by a honey-suckle vine which made a groove and even caused a sprout to graft itself to the main stalk. Interestingly enough, the sprout continued on above the graft with small limbs and leaves. I left the stub to show the unusual event. You can see it in the close-up below the main photograph.

At the top of the photo, you can see a light-weight walking stick with the same sort of vine-embossed twist as the cane. Unlike the cane, I’d let the staff dry and had scraped the bark off. Traces of inner bark still remain. Like all the others, it got a 50/50 coat of rubbing alcohol/boiled linseed oil.

I’ll try to sell the two top ones that I’ve made, as well as the hickory one, since I can’t be sure of its history. Any cane-tips are new, but I won’t put any on Grandma’s and Aunt Marie’s since I won’t be using them. If anyone is in the market for a cane or a wooden churn, let me know! J © 2013



HermitJim said...

I do like the older canes! They seem to have more character than the newer ones!

Phillip said...

Nice collection. I have about 20 canes, Somehow inherited all the Grand parents, and Great grand parents canes. Might come in useful one day.

Gorges Smythe said...

I agree, Jim; aluminum just doesn't cut it for me!

I guess that pretty-much gives you one for every occasion, Phillip.

Mamahen said...

Love these, esp the ones that the vinrs marked :))

Gorges Smythe said...

I always liked those, too, Mh!