Crowell, my paternal grandfather, passed away on August 6, 1978 at the age
of 86. Five years earlier his wife of 58 years passed away. With Papa's
death his children and grandchildren were confronted with the arduous task
of disposing of a lifetime of possessions.
that caught my attention was a small, battered wheelbarrow which was
buried beneath an assorted collection of junk near the back of the
woodhouse. When it was uncovered and brought out I asked about its origin.
My dad approached it, turned it over, sized the wheel and reported that it
really belonged to him.
that the wheelbarrow was one of a pair made by my grandfather for his two
young sons. The only difference being the size of the wheel. As Christmas
1929 approached, my grandfather, a man with only a seventh grade education
whose income as a cotton mill machinist was barely enough to cover the
expenses of daily living, decided to use his skill as a craftsman to
create gifts for his boys. After collecting scrap metal and wood he was
able to fashion two small wheelbarrows. On Christmas morning 1929, his two
sons were delighted when they discovered the wheelbarrows filled with
candy, fruit and nuts. My dad still remembers this as one of the happiest
Christmases of his childhood.
of play, the wheelbarrows found their way into the woodhouse in the
backyard. At one point they were uncovered by a young cousin who decided
to experiment with a ballpeen hammer. The one remaining wheelbarrow which
belonged to my dad was in desperate need of repair. Its pan was dented
with hammer marks, the paint had peeled, and the wooden handles rotted. My
husband, who is rather "handy" and enjoys the challenge of repair work,
decided to tackle the possibility of restoration. He carefully reshaped
the pan, removed old paint, created new wooden handles, painted and
polished until the 49-year-old wheelbarrow looked like new!
Day 1978, we tied a big red bow around the freshly restored wheelbarrow
and presented it to my dad. Needless to say, there were no dry eyes, but
there were some mighty big smiles among family members.
On August 6,
1979 (exactly one year after Papa Crowell's death), I gave birth to a son,
my only child, and much to my surprise on Christmas Day 1979, my dad gave
the 50-year-old wheelbarrow to his first grandson. Again, there were damp
cheeks and broad grins.
2000 approaches I think again about this small, now 71 year old treasure,
which has touched the lives of four generations. Its existence represents
a connection from my grandfather, to my father, to my husband, to my son.
Its material value is almost nil, however, its value as a piece of family
memorabilia is without price. Hopefully, it will continue to be passed
from one generation to another as a gift on Christmas Day.
Sherrill Crowell Jones