They barely had enough work to keep me in the saddle today, but one of my deliveries was to a place near Center Point, West Virginia. There’s a compressor station being built there on McElroy Creek, just off Rt # 23 on Riggins Run Road. Such technology doesn’t impress me, but the drive there did. It was raining all day, sometimes fairly hard, but sometimes barely sprinkling.
All along the rural roads leading to my destination were farms and little country homes, some lived in and some abandoned. What caught my attention the most, though, were all the little sheds and shanties that were part of the “dependencies” of the old homesteads. Most were built of rough lumber from the local sawmill back in the day when mills were more common than now. A few were built of corrugated tin. Some were locked up, some had doors standing open and others were so deteriorated that the roofs were lying nearly on the ground. Through some of the open doors I could see old farm tools, auto parts, rusted machinery and masses of rusted and dusty items that defied identification from a moving truck.
How I wished that I could snoop in all those old buildings! Of course I wouldn’t even know who to ask most places, since the most interesting ones were usually abandoned. I have a fetish for old tools and farm items. Some of the tools that I love most to use around my shop and yard have come from older relatives, antique shops, abandoned sheds and junk piles. Such things have personalities, and stories, that modern tools lack. The quality is often better, too. However, even those things too far gone to be used are interesting to look at and speculate as to their age and use.
In my youth, many rainy days were spent at my grandparents’ places, snooping around the outbuildings, learning about the past and asking questions when I got really stumped. It’s amazing the things I know about today, because of that hobby, which many people my age have no clue about. I’ve never harnessed a horse in my life, for instance, yet I know all the parts of the harness, their purpose and how to get it on the horse—all from studying old junk and asking questions.
One of my favorite spots was the tool shed up the hollow behind the barn of my paternal grandparents. My granddad had put a sawmill up there during the war, and though he never roofed the mill, at least he built a small building, perhaps 12 feet by 20, where he could put stuff out of the weather and even hole-up, himself, if the rain got too heavy. Many of my teenage hikes, hunts and horseback rides mysteriously swung by the old shed. Perhaps I should have closed it in and made it my hermitage; there were four springs and a running stream, all within 150 yards of the place. Closed in properly (or otherwise), it would have heated easily with a woodstove. I found myself thinking of the old loafing spot often today, as the rain hit the windshield. I reckon some days are custom made for memories. © 2014
Very poor photo of the old tool shed up the hollow, taken in 1973.