09/07/14 - posted by W.M.
Nowadays when something such as a small kitchen appliance breaks down, or ceases to work as good as it did, many of us probably just go out and buy a new one to replace it. Much easier (and quicker) to do that, right?

Back when I was young, I can remember many times when the toaster stopped working properly, the electric percolator didn't make coffee, the waffle iron didn't heat up, the thermostat setting didn't ignite the furnace, the oven's gas burner was clogged, etc., and my Dad actually repaired these things himself. Many times I watched him at his workbench in the basement/garage with one of these items completely disassembled rewiring, soldering, cleaning, unclogging, or replacing a worn-out part. Most often, when he put it all back together, it worked perfectly once again. Because of his talent to fix things, even some of Mom's older hand-me-down electric items from my grandparents (stand up mixer, hand mixer, waffle iron) kept working for many years, probably well beyond "their time".

I don't ever remember Dad buying "parts" to fix most things. He (like most of my friend's fathers) kept what seemed like every screw, nail, washer, bits of unused wire, bolts and nuts, etc., in various coffee cans or mayonnaise/jelly jars on his workbench and in a small storage closet in the basement underneath the stairway. His was a simple system and the workbench was also a simple work area, but I remember other workbenches around the neighborhood in my friend's basements that were pretty elaborate. Some were more like cabinets with drawers and overhead cupboards. Some had pegboard and hooks were placed to hang tools, and a few would even draw an outline of the tool that belonged on each hook. Some had a couple of shelves placed above the workbench and some of these had old baby food jars (or other small jars) attached to the bottom of the shelves by screwing the lid into the bottom of the shelf. They kept same similar screws, nails, etc., in these jars and you would just unscrew the jar from the lid to find what was needed.

Without a doubt, the most organized garage workbench/workshop that I know of, had to be in my best friend's (Mark) house on Ortega St near 34th Ave. His father worked as a police officer, but his real passion was in working with wood. They lived in a "Junior 5" and he had built a downstairs bedroom. Most of the garage was filled with his elaborate workbench such as I noted above, wood lathe(s), planer, and just about every woodworking tool in existence. The funny thing was he always drove a station wagon and if ANYTHING was out of place, the car would not fit in the garage. He had it down to a real science, but it sure was difficult leaving his house through the garage...sometimes I just went upstairs to go out the front door.

So did any of your fathers or the father's of your friends have an elaborate workshop/workbench area? Did they like to fix things around the house that broke?

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