Deeply Rooted->The Toy Box

The Toy Box

The Toy Box

   “Kids put your toys away” mother would say to my sister, brother and me and we would gather them up and put them in the toy chest, a big white box on the porch that would later be enclosed and become the family room.  The toy chest, like the bookcase and a few other pieces of furniture was made by my father from boards from crates that some piece of equipment was shipped in at the chemistry department where he worked.     

The toy chest, like many items from childhood, faded from my memory, things from long ago, forgotten about until a few days ago when I was cleaning up my dad’s garage from a small disaster.  There at the bottom of a pile of boxes, tools and other stuff was this big white box.  After an hour of work, I managed to get everything off it and open it to find it contained old tools.  Old oil cans, hand drill bits, plow shares, seed spreader and so on.  Two items caught my attention for they had labels on them written by my dad, “Steel Trap my Dad used to trap coons for the fur” and “One quart of oil for your car”.  WOW! What a find, tool from my grandfather, and then I thought “Could this be my grandfather’s toolbox?”  My grandfather’s toolbox had a special memory for me.  As a child my brother and I would go spend days and sometimes a week at grandma and grandpa’s farm.  There on the back porch sat this big old wooden toolbox.  I loved to open it up an see all the old hand tools, figuring out what each did and how it worked.  I particularly loved the old hand drill that you held one hand on top and cranked with the other and it took these big old spiral drill bits.  One I just had to try using it, so I took it out, fitted a bit into it and proceeded to drill holes in the wooden porch floorboards.  When grandma found out, well I got more than scolding that day.  But that tool chest I’ll always remember.    

So I thought I found a long lost treasure, my grandfather’s tool chest and a few of his tools.  I ask dad I could take it home and clean it up and he says yes.  I got my brother to help me load it up in the truck and brought it home where I proceed to clean it up when I notice red crayon scribblings in the inside of the chest.  I thought “that’s odd, they look like something a child would do”, when the memory began to emerge, a memory from long ago, a memory deeply rooted.  It was our childhood toy box.     

It is a plain chest, painted white. It doesn’t have fancy mitered corners, the nails that went through the boards were just bent over, but what it lacked in quality was more than made up in sturdiness being built out of 2x4’s and solid pine planks.   The fact that it still is around some 50 plus years later attests to its sturdiness.  It now sits at the base of my bed, cleaned, clear coated on the outside to preserve the old look and lined it with cedar planks where I store blankets.  A treasure chest, not for what is in it, but for what it was.   I still keep an eye out for my grandfather’s toolbox hoping to one day come across it.

Larry Mixson, 06-17-2019