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As you arrived in the farmyard and to the left was a large story-and-a-half garage-workshop filled with tools, equipment and sometimes vehicles or farm wagons. The second floor held small pocket grain bins and more storage space. There was a hatch in the floor upstairs which would be used to fill cloth or burlap grain sacks below where a truck could be parked. The garage carried an historical status the other buildings did not. As the story goes this structure at one time served as the train depot for Valley Crossing just less than a mile west on Williams Road. The family moved and reassembled it on a new foundation at the farm.
During some of our visits to the farm I remember my father going out to that garage to talk with his younger brother Jim. They always seemed to be drinking coffee from the ubiquitous sea foam green ceramic cups usually found on a kitchen shelf or near the sink in the house. Sometimes my uncle Carl or uncle Willie would walk in and together they would just talk. I didn’t listen much, as they stood near the workbench strewn with a ballpeen hammer, screwdrivers and socket wrenches. The painted white backwall above the bench held a variety of items like timing belts, various gasket patterns, a calendar and antifreeze testers. It could have been a worthy subject for a Harnett tableau. I could tell the brothers were offering up old stories and reminiscing. In winter the radiant heat from a slowly corroding wood stove would make for comfortable conditions as the brothers would catch-up on the latest news while we played in the midst of an air compressor, acetylene tanks and torches and an old four-wheeled Fairbanks grain scale. A set of stairs against the north wall led to the second floor. Each stair also doubled as a partial shelf for miscellaneous items that apparently failed to win space on the busy workbench. The floor of the garage was concrete, where decades of spilt oil, dried paint and planer shavings came to rest. The garage was the business end of the farm. A place where things got cut, welded, hammered, drilled and shaped. A place where things got made.
My father could be found in the garage by himself on some Saturday afternoons fabricating one thing or another to be used for one of his many remodeling projects at home. His only company at times would be the radio. Although there would probably be a college football game or two to follow or maybe even baseball, my father chose The Metropolitan Opera. Classic opera would be nationally broadcast every Saturday. I don’t remember being present for that as much as my cousin Kurt was. He tells of seeing my dad working away on different projects while listening to grand opera in the background. I don’t think my dad was an opera devotee, it was never played at home but Jimmy said he heard him say he enjoyed the narrator/host of the program describe what the operas were about. He found it extremely amusing that with all the high-brow drama and emotion the themes ended up being about sex, love, envy, death, betrayal, secrecy and murder. I think he also appreciated the stirring environment it provided to execute his ideas.