Recycling Before Recyling Was Cool


My reference to Treva’s dad yesterday brought back of host of memories for lots of folks. A dear friend from the first grade read my musings and went back in time. My mention of the galvanized metal boxes Treva’s brother had in the back of his pickup truck that I likened to the entrée of the Clampett Family with stacks of stuff tied on to the back of their truck, took him back in time.


He said of the metal boxes, “I bet I know who made those galvanized metal boxes. In the 9th grade I took a General Shop class. Half of the semester was wood shop and the other half metal shop. In metal shop we made a cold chisel that took several weeks to make. We made it by hand, shaping it with a file. The other project was a galvanized sheet metal tool box.
 The day before we were to start on the tool box, we took a field trip to Topper Sheet Metal.
 Mr. Topper introduced himself to the class and then said, ” Hello, Wayne”.
 He then told everyone he had known me a long time and we went to church together. Then he told me to come up and help him. 
Made my day.
 He talked to us about his work and showed us jobs he was working on in the shop, air conditioning duct work that would go into homes and businesses.
 Then he showed us the finished tool box we were going to make in shop class, set it aside and started cutting and bending sheet metal and explained everything he was doing and why. In less than half an hour he made what would take us several weeks.
 Mr. Topper was a kind, gentle Godly gentleman and very skilled master craftsman”.


In an effort to tie up loose ends from yesterday’s blog, there are a couple of things I need to clarify. First of all, I made reference to the fact that I can be a jerk. I think most readers overlooked my heartfelt confession of wrongdoing. Maybe my confession was a little too subtle for folks to figure out that I was being transparent and highlighting the fact that I can be the “brother-in-law” from… Well let’s just say somewhere other than heaven.


Even my own brother read my blog yesterday and stepped in with his rendition of gentle redirection. He said of my apology for being a jerk: “Your expressed sorrow to Joni appears to be an ostentatious sorrow. If you were truly remorseful about your classless behavior, you would call her on the phone. Hey, I’m just saying…Love you much”.


Of course, I really can’t blame Larry for heaping on loads of guilt. That skillset is closely woven into our DNA. We weren’t raised Catholic, but we grew up Baptist with a mother who had the skillset to orchestrate repentance through dishing out a truckload of guilt on her kids. She knew all the tricks of the trade.


I don’t even have to think about how it came down. It is ingrained in my head as though it is second nature to me. My kids would tell you that it is second nature ot me. Obviously, my younger and somewhat smarter brother has the same propensity. So how did it go? Oh, yeah: “If you really love God you wouldn’t be fighting with your brother.” Long story short, when you were the target of Mother’s gentle redirection, you always emerged from the experience knowing your were responsible for being unkind not only to your brother, but to God as well.


Like I said: “My younger and somewhat smarter brother” grew up with that same frame of reference. I suspect if you were to ask his kids, they’d say he and my Mother have a lot in common. Of course they do. My dear Mother was a gift from God and one of most loving and thoughtful people you’d ever meet. The same is true for Larry Dean. He was named after my Mother. Her name was Neva Dean.  I really miss  her.


Okay, so I tried to soften my brother’s accusation of my “ostentatious sorrow” a little by suggesting to Larry Dean that he modify the term to “subtly ostentatious sorrow”, but it was a “no go”. He responded: “Isn’t subtly ostentatious an oxymoron like ‘cruel to be kind’?” Like I said, “It is somewhere in the DNA?”


Please hear this. Let there be no mistake. I thoroughly enjoy the back and forth playful banter I share with my younger and somewhat smarter brother. Repeat – Let there be no mistake, we dearly love and respect each another.   You’re probably thinking, if you think like my Mother, “Don – If you really loved God you’d let Larry Dean win once in awhile”. Maybe you’re right. I’ll give that some thought.  By the way, I learned a thing or two from my mother as well.


There is a second thing about yesterday’s blog that I need to clear up. I didn’t explain in my blog yesterday why Treva’s dad had a collection of mangled, twisted, bent lead pipes. When it came to sheet metal work, Treva’s dad represented the best in the business. He was the “go to person” not only for folks needing air conditioning and heating ducts, but he also made metal flashings needed in new home construction and for repairing damaged rooftops. When replacing roofs, it is customary to also replace the lead pipes that protrude through the roof and also reflected hail damage.


It all gets back to content. Lead is lead. It can be used for pipes and it can also be used for bullets. Treva’s dad was a hunter and he reloaded his own bullets. To do that, he needed lead. His customers wanted to be helpful. They brought Mr. Topper the old lead pipes they took off of rooftops. They knew that he would re-purpose the lead. In addition, there was always the outside chance they might also get some venison out of the deal. The way I see it, it was recycling before anyone even knew the term.


My friend from first grade also thoughtfully added in his message from yesterday: “Like you, my Mama and Daddy crossed the threshold of Heaven some years ago, but when I go home to the house I grew up in, I can go into the garage, go to the work bench, put my hand on a metal lever, pull it down and the years fade away. Daddy and me are loadin’ shotgun shells again to replace the ones we used up that day on dove or quail. Gettin’ ready for tomorrow.  I think grandmother sent Craig a pickup load of memories. Glad he has them, the loader and a Godly grandmother to think of him”.


The bottom line is this, “At times I am a jerk, but I also am surrounded by a host of incredible folks who know how to make lemonade out of lemons”.  Thank you!


All My Best!