Long before my time, my grandfather said something to my father about, “You better measure that. Not everyone makes things the way we do.”

Today, I smile because my father called me after opening the package I had mailed to him.

“Did you make these 1-2-3 blocks?”

Yes, daddy. They’re one of the first things I had to make as an apprentice. We weren’t allowed to do company work until we made our own tools.

It was dual purpose. New apprentices don’t have the skills to do company work and there are some tools you can’t buy precise enough for the tolerances required to work in this shop. Or, that’s what we were told. (A google for ultra precise 1-2-3 blocks found blocks made flat, square, and parallel within 0.0001″ but when I clicked on the description, it read within 0.0001 to 0.0002 so maybe they were right.)

I smile because I know he is going to measure them.

I know he’s going to measure them because he has measured 1-2-3 blocks found at yard sales, mostly purchased out of curiosity because of what his father had told him. When the dims were off, he’d call to tell me about it. Yes, you can find 1-2-3 blocks at yard sales around here. This is Rust Belt Ohio, where industry once flourished and Tool & Die Makers are now a dying breed. Literally. The old guys are dying off so their personal tools occasionally land in yard sales.

I smile because, when I called and told him that I was going to sell off some tools that I haven’t used in years, he asked me what I had and said, “Oh, I could use those” when I mentioned 1-2-3 blocks.

Perhaps the initials threw him off as he forgot what the T stood for, then told me that he ran into my ex-husband’s sister at the Walmart store and talked for a bit, she was always nice… what’s their name again?

He forgets odd things.

I also mailed him a double angle block and a set of forstner bits for his woodworking. It was a trade deal, I can’t charge him more than yard sale prices and he had sent up an odd looking antique screwdriver and some handmade tongs for me to sell on eBay for him that I wouldn’t mind buying for myself.

I smile because he is 82 years old, recovering from a stroke, and still making stuff. He builds little wooden models and does some wood carving. He’s also active, serves on an honor guard, goes on outings with his clubs, and does things with his friends. He’s also doing some kind of home study course on CD or DVD to learn a new language and takes drawing classes when offered for adults at a nearby school. Mommy won’t let him drive anymore, that’s what he tells me, but it’s all good. He laughs and makes jokes about it, claims he drives like Mr. Magoo, and tells mom “you’re not supposed to leave old men in cars” when she wants to run into a store. I love how they still like each other, get along so well, their love laced with laughter after 62 years of marriage. These days are precious.

Thanks for reading!