I think Dad already had the first story of our 40x60 foot barn laid long before he got the mortar box. Back in those days, a lot of folks built their own from lumber or plywood. Since Dad had a sawmill, I figure that a homemade one was what he used at the time. Sometime before I hit my teens, though, he got a new steel one, in part because it was so much easier to keep a steel mortar box clean than it is a wooden ones. It measured 30x60 inches, and was probably what they call a nine cubic foot model.
Over the years, it got a lot of use around the farm. It was also used to mix all the mortar, and some of the concrete, for the place that I’ve called home for 34 years. Along the way, it was loaned to my maternal grandfather and a couple other folks with no ill effects.
At one point, though, it was loaned to the youngest son of the aunt and uncle who lived across the road from the farm. I don’t know what his project was, but he was duly warned to clean it up well after each use. Unfortunately, he had his Masters degree by that time and thought that he knew more than God. As a result, he decided to wait until he was done with the whole job before cleaning the box.
You can guess the shape the box was in when Dad got it back. We stood it inside the barn and chipped away on it at odd times. Eventually, we got it relatively smooth, but we never got it completely clean. We cleaned it scrupulously after each use ever since, but a slight skim of concrete remained on much of it. I dug it out from under the rear deck today, so I could get a photo to help in selling it. Some of the concrete from my educated cousin’s use remains even yet.
I heard, recently, that he’s spending his retirement playing video games online, no doubt vanquishing most comers and proving how “smart” he is. I guess it just shows that you might be able to teach a guy chemical and electrical engineering, but you can’t teach him common sense or responsibility. © 2015