a man i never met (grandparents, part 1)


grandfatherMy grandfather was a carpenter, and many of his now-vintage tools are still stocked away in my parents’ garage.  I dug through them last winter and photographed some – see them here.  The man passed away in 1973, and although I didn’t meet him I have to wonder what traits were passed down – general interest in design / carpentry / furniture? Gardener, witty and a had a sweet tooth? He made his living doing odd-jobs of cabinetry, furniture, some larger framed projects over the years.  His name was as big as the figure he appears to be in the photo – Theodore Roosevelt McElroy – born just after the president left office. old chiselsThese old family tools of the trade deserve a spotlight in a time when there is a renewed interest in makers, things handhewn, made in America. I find them inspiring and a reminder to continue to DO stuff with my hands. (I’m using my hands to blog, right now)  Among the items are a number of hand-made wooden toolboxes, many of them long to accommodate longer saws. Now one of them has a horseshoe in it… wood toolboxold toolboxtoolboxI can imagine these time-worn antiques being snatched up by homemakers and designers, hung on walls and stuffed with succulents or tchotchkes. I just gave myself a good idea! (we recently installed old tools / toolboxes in the office windows – post coming soon)drill bitschiselsHe even made the boxes that the drill bits and chisels would be stored in.  I wonder if he had to use the bits to … store the bits? wood rulerI’ve seen some of these things pop up in clothing store displays such as the wood folding ruler.  Because if you buy that flannel shirt you’ll feel capable of swinging an axe : ) wood sawNice carved saw handles…straight edgecoping sawI photographed everything on the concrete floor of my parents’ garage in December…freezing.old house 2One of his projects was to convert a former barn into this cozy home for his own family of 6. (Dad tells us how he had to help excavate the basement, with shovels – or was it spoons?) house additionThe garage and a bedroom were added later.  We spent many holidays here over the years. It really was an ode to Americana. Note the M on the chimney. corkscrewOk not everything here was used for carpentry but it’s some cool stuff. craftsman viceHere are some old photos of him again below, looking both casual and dapper. He’s standing in front of a fieldstone barbecue he built. I like to think there’s some of that woodworking/make/do/stuff of him in me, even if it’s currently manifested as architecture with occasional weekend forays into dead furniture revivals…and yes, I have a few sweet tooths. theodorerooseveltvintage toolbox

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One response to “a man i never met (grandparents, part 1)

  1. May Christian-Eid

    The picture to the right I recognize as my front yard on Birchwood Ave in Upper Nyack. My Grandfather, Bill Christian was married to Grandma Peggy McElroy, and my father Charles Christian proudly called it home for 88 years. May Christian-Eid

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