Last Friday, I wrote about a recent David Brooks’ New York Times piece. The article was part confession; the author admitted he’d grown out of touch with the average Joe and his neighbors. Mr. Brooks outlined his plan to better understand the great national “pain” upon the land manifesting in the popularity of Donald Trump. I contemplated a longer blog post covering each of his six “suggestions” for the nation, but I knew I wouldn’t have the time to research and elaborate my disagreement with him in a powerful and convincing way.
And there was a lot to do on Saturday morning and I forgot all about David Brooks and his suggestions until Uncle Bob showed up with the Wizard.
The fifty year old Western Auto Wizard garden tiller, that is.
My O’Pa bought the Wizard in 1965 following his retirement from the Worumbo. There was a Western Auto hardware store on Main Street, just a few blocks from the mill. It’s a hair salon now. O’Pa walked to the mill every day; maybe he stopped at Western Auto on his way home and admired the tiller, thinking “that’s the first thing I’m going to do when I retire, get myself a Wizard.”
I never thought of my grandfather as being employed because he retired the year after I was born. He was a man in an old photograph, a fixture in the garden, or a philosopher on the porch, but not an employee although he’d worked at the mill for over forty years. Before he retired and bought The Wizard, he made extra money tilling gardens for his neighbors with a team of horses.
This year, I’m expanding my vegetable garden and I needed the Wizard.
Handy came over and he helped unload the machine from Uncle Bob’s truck. Uncle Bob started the job while Handy and I watched. It was slow going at first, working the tiller through the compacted grass. Uncle Bob worked on it for about twenty minutes and the ground slowly started looking like a garden.
Handy had a boyish excitement about the new tool and wanted to give it a try. He took a couple of turns and finished the last section.
“That’s a powerful little machine,” he said when he had finished.
He and Uncle Bob talked about the engine and the carburetor and replacing the old wheels. It was nothing I understood, except as words in theory. But as I observed their conversation I wondered what David Brooks had in mind when he said one thing we needed in this county was “a new definition of masculinity.” He said the “traditional masculine ideal isn’t working anymore.” He said “everywhere, you see men imprisoned by the old reticent, stoical ideal.”
How had my backyard turned into a prison cell?
Handy and Uncle Bob loaded the Wizard back into the truck and Uncle Bob drove off to his Saturday stoic lunch. He probably had a pork chop or some chicken with a baked potato and salad on the side. My new garden is taking shape and Handy will come over today and finish the fencing. I hope he doesn’t feel imprisoned. It’s only deer fencing.
Yeah, David Brooks really does need to get out of his bourgeois strata.