I like old mechanics' toolboxes. They are very tactile: the tools and often the boxes themselves have a very substantial feel. Old tools have resonance, or radiance, particularly when they have been well-used. Without getting all Irish about it, the ghosts are there. Few men would willingly sell their own toolbox: so the men who used these toolboxes and tools are probably dead. And of course the boxes and the tools have a beauty that's not hard to see. Tools, and other things that people use in their work--trucks, lobsterboats, paintbrushes, western saddles--have always been (mostly) about form following function, a good design principle to go by. It would have surprised Romantics in the early 19th century that old, humble machine-made objects could be beautiful, and resonant, but they are, aren't they?
I bought this narrow blue box with a socket wrench set at Liberty Tool in Liberty, Maine last summer. This one gets a lot of use, on the Sierra.
The grey box is quite utilitarian. I found it in Blue Hill last week, and I think I will be using it for most of my amateur-mechanic tools. The previous owner lined it with linoleum--early Seventies, I'd say, from the pattern.
- Brooklin, Maine, United States
- We own a 1975 GMC Sierra Grande 15 in Maine, and an '86 Chevrolet Custom Deluxe 10 in West Texas. Also a pair of '97 Volvo 850 wagons. Average age in the fleet is 24 years--we're recyclers. I've published a book of stories NIGHT DRIVING (1987), and 2 novels: THE LAW OF DREAMS (2006), and THE O'BRIENS, which came out in the US (Pantheon) and Canada (House of Anansi) in 2012. A book of stories TRAVELLING LIGHT comes out in May 2013. More of my book stuff at www.peterbehrens.org I'm a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study for 2012-13.