I honestly can’t remember where I found the old wooden shipping box. My affinity for all things that float or fly likely accounts for my having acquired the old crate, and for the care I have lavished on it over time, finally putting it to good use when we arrived in our new home. I can tell you that it reminds me of another time and place, where the mysteries of internal combustion engines were fascinating ….
In 1960, I lived for awhile with my grandparents in rural Marion, South Carolina. The house, a cinder block affair, was on a cotton and tobacco patch near the community of Temperance Hill. This house is still occupied by my Aunt Ruth, the last of mom’s siblings. Life on a small farm was slow and easy….at least for a 10 year old kid prone to mischief when not otherwise engaged in a productive activity like gathering eggs from the henhouse or walking the milk cow out to be staked for her morning feed. My closest buddy, Johnny Meggs, lived a bout a quarter mile down the roughly paved road, where his folks ran a country store, Meggs Grocery. Johnny went on to a career as a trooper in South Carolina….who knew we would share similar destinys. I could be found sitting in the seat of an old John Deere tractor, driving it for hours on end, a fantasy again involving internal combustion engines. The tractor never moved with me in the seat…….although I recall getting into serious trouble for starting it once.
Sundays were always very special. Folks either came to a terrific, after church dinner in this modest little house or we travelled to town for dinner at Uncle Edwards house, on Bond Street in downtown Marion. Uncle Edward had a small shop behind his house where he kept the tools and materials necessary to his trade as an electrician. In this shop was a 55 gallon barrel, filled with oily, dark water. Mounted to the side of this barrel was an old Johnson Sea Horse outboard motor, probably in the 5 horsepower range, that was dutifully started every Sunday we were there, while the men tinkered with the carburetor in an effort to keep the smoky old motor running. I suspect the old motor, probably a early 50s vintage, never saw a boat’s transom after Uncle Ed acquired it…….it was just too unreliable to chance a trip on the Pee Dee river. I imagine this old motor was originally shipped in a crate similar to the one that serves as a coat rack in our laundry room. We found a couple of fence pickets in an antique mall and Sharon had acquired the hardware for the hanging pegs somewhere along the way. I cobbled it all together one afternoon, and it now serves as a reminder of very humble beginnings in the rural south. Most folks see an old shipping crate made into a coat rack…..I see a wonderful, laid back existence where life was simple and trust was plentiful…….