Fridays Weekend Column
About a Minnesota Man Exploring Life in the South
by James Glaser
Monday night I was eating dinner with four people, one from rural Georgia, one from Alabama, one from central Florida, and the forth from Pensacola, which is as far west as you can get in Florida.
I have been down here a year now, so I didn't need an interpreter for most conversations, but when people got relaxed, and they start talking faster, I find a lot of words I have to think about.
What is so strange is that people can live just a few miles apart down here, and their speech patterns are very different. I was sitting there at dinner listening to all of these people speak, and they all had different ways of saying things, but everyone understood each other.
One night I was at a veterans meeting and one of the Southern vets asked me what this other guy was saying. I had not a clue, so I said he was talking about fishing. That guy said, "How do you know that?" I said, "That's the only thing the guy ever talks about." As soon as somebody gets excited, and they start talking really fast, I have not a clue what they are saying. City people down here bad mouth the rural folks and their way of speaking, but to me neither one of them can communicate when they are talking fast.
Whenever I go to a store down here, I have a hard time at the check-out. The store clerks ask me so many questions, and most of the time I am just guessing at what they are saying. If Wanda is with me, she signs to me while talking real distinctly repeating what the check out person said, and they must think I am deaf, and maybe mentally challenged.
My new tools came yesterday. Every guy likes tools. Every First Friday when my shop is open to the public, I find lots of guys who would rather look at and talk about my tools rather than my work. Whenever you buy a new tool, other craftsmen come over to see it. Kind of like buying a new car or a new gun, which are really tools, too. The tools I bought are still in the box, but I did get them off the truck and into the shop before heading home. I bought a six inch jointer, a floor model drill press, and two new work benches.
There was really no reason to buy these things, because I have gotten along with out them for years. I have a bench model drill press, many electric and battery operated drills, even a brace and bit, and a Yankee drill, but I have a hundred reasons that I can use to rationalize buying this new floor model drill.
The story is the same for the jointer. I have hand planes, and I am good with them. I can sharpen the blade so it cuts like butter, my joints are every bit as nice as if I used an electric jointer, but I always wanted one. The same is true for the work benches. The ones I use now I built, and they work just fine. The two I bought are kind of show pieces. A few years ago I built a real nice one for Les Beach, and it ended up costing almost eight hundred in materials. I bought both of these for a bit less than that. The one I built for Les was of oak. The two I bought are of maple. Les only wanted the best, so the two vises on his were a lot nicer, and his bench top was thicker, but all I have to do is bolt these two together and they are done. They will look nice, as will the new drill press and jointer.
I can do real fine work, and I can do it the hard way with hand tools, but with woodworking shows like the New Yankee Workshop or that one with they guy named Norm who has every Porta Cable tool ever made, people want to see a shop filled with nice looking tools. Those same people will ooh and awe at fine antique furniture, never thinking that every fine old wood piece was made all by hand. People today could never pay for the hours it would take to make something that same way.
So, now I'll have that "cool" wood working shop, the jointer will speed things up a bit and my drilled holes will be a bit more accurate. For a while I'll be careful and wipe every bit of glue off my work bench, and I'll probably throw a piece of plastic on the top when I stain and varnish. . . . at least for a while.
I think maybe I should invest in a good coffee pot and a checker board and a few wood chairs to give the place the right look
I do have a wonderful stereo and some JBL studio monitors, plus a couple of huge megaphone outdoor speakers from the Grand Rapids Drive-in movie theater. With this set up I can hear the music even over the belt sander. I gotta admit, I am having fun working at the studio.
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