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Ye Olde Grinding Shop

July 10th, 2011 by Magdalena Tabor

This morning the singular sound of a bell was heard proceeding slowly up the street towards the house. DING! (pause…. ) DING! (pause….) DING! I first laid eyes on the source of this attention getter years ago during our first summer or so after moving into our new home. The sound recalled childhood days of my old neighborhood but I couldn’t quite place my finger on what produced this distinctive tone. Images emerged of the old street vendors back in the 1950’s; the tiny marketplace of the fruit and vegetable man, although mobile, was more or less stationary once he wheeled it into place. But there was something else from that era that escaped me.  Upon hearing this sound again after all those years, I ran to peer out of the upstairs window. Having just awoken, I felt I might still be in dream state. What appeared was an old red truck from the 1940’s or 50’s. On it were the words “The Grinding Shop.” It was “the scissor man” as we kids referred to him back then but he sharpened all sorts of blades and tools, household and gardening implements. Apron clad mothers would rush out of doors with their scissors and kitchen knives to be newly sharpened. For those of you who grew up in the suburbs during this time, this was a blast from the past. Or was it a ghostly vehicle making its rounds? Was I stuck in some sort of time warp? DING! (pause….) DING! (pause….) And it was gone.
Over the years, this sound has been heard each summer. And each time I rush to the window to wonder and watch, immersing myself in a flood of memories. Today would be different. I would STOP the scissor man just to assure myself he was real. The old red truck crept slowly towards the house. Quickly – think! What did I have that could use sharpening? Scissors? No. Knives? No – too sharp. I envisioned a weekend lost at the emergency room having severed an index finger. I’ve got it! Pruning shears! (Remember last week’s ordeal? My frenzy dulled the blade down to a mere blunt so that now it couldn’t cut a wisp of grass). I motioned at the door for the scissor man to stop and ran out back to the shed to grab the sheers. Careening out the front door I made for the truck. “Take your time”, the scissor man spoke in a familiar old neighborhood accent. He was clean cut and shaven. Friendly. So why was I disappointed? What was I expecting? Of course he was real but I half expected to see an old timer with a handlebar moustache – a relic from a bygone era. He was just a normal guy.
I handed him the shears without asking the price. “These will be $9.00”, he said. “Wow”, I thought to myself. Certainly not 1950’s prices but I couldn’t back out now after flagging him down and making him wait. “Okay”, I said with a smile. After all, it’s the novelty of the thing, of getting my pruning shears sharpened by the scissor man, how cool is that? He buffed the blades on a wheel, stopped to oil them, then walked over to another gadget to straighten out the blades. He adjusted the screw connecting the blades, opened and closed them several times to ensure easy usage. Then he walked over to another wheel to sharpen the blades. I watched as the sparks flew. Finally he handed over the $9.00 job. “You don’t see too many of these around anymore”, I said eying the time worn vehicle.  He asked where I was from and acknowledged that the previous owner’s route was my old neck of the woods. “I’m  the last of the kind”, he said. “After me, it’s over”.
There will be no more scissor men. Nothing to jar the memory of my past. Little by little, the past fades into, well……….the past. Buried in the graveyard of the mind. Lets’s not get overly sentimental but I do enjoy the small snippets of what it is that makes me who I am – reminding me where I came from.
As if on cue, the church bells are chiming some old hymn.  Another sound saying “This is who you are”. A child of 6 or 7. A woman, timeless as the ages.

So………………..whadayathink? What gets you reminiscing about your lost youth? Does it make you feel a twinge of sadness or happy inside? Maybe a good old fashioned, healthy mixture of both.

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3 Responses to “Ye Olde Grinding Shop”

  1. avto Says:

    Hi, I blogged about knife sharpening too, weird. Thanks.

  2. KENNY Says:

    I sharpen my knives rvery week…..I thought we had the only truck

  3. Humberto Velez Says:

    I am a carpenter,I have tools,chisels,knifes,& planes. That need sharpening.I have seen your truck on Hook Creek rd. in Valley Stream. call me 917-239-4096 Humberto

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