If you have visited our farm, you may have seen an old two-man cross cut saw hanging on the wall of the barn. That saw is a piece of my family’s history, and a reminder to us of how “easy” we have it in this day and age when we can fire up a chainsaw and cut logs lickety-split, or even just flip a switch to heat the house. We treasure a few “heirlooms” that we have around because they remind us of people we love, and our roots. Maybe it is my background as a historian, but every time I see old farm implements in an antique shop or hanging on some wall, I wonder about the people who used them.
Here is what my grandmother told me about the old saw:
“The old saw was my dad’s and mom’s. It was probably purchased when they married in 1929. It was used to saw ‘lengths’ of logs for our pot-bellied stove which heated the house. Also, it was used in the kitchen stove to cook and also heat that area. My brother, who was two years older than I, sometimes pulled this saw with me to cut the logs to heat and cook. When my younger brother, who was two years younger than I, got a little older, he took my place at the other end of the saw. When we got electricity in the late 40’s, the saw was stored in the barn and stayed there until I brought it home with me when my dad passed away. It’s been in our garage since bringing it here about fifteen years ago. I’m sorry that it isn’t in better condition.”
“The old saw played an important part in our lives. I remember hearing my mother wake up my dad in the morning in the cold house to encourage him to get up and start the fire. Sometimes I kept my boots on when I went to bed so I wouldn’t have to put them on in the cold house in the morning. My mother would leave the house to catch her ride to work at about five o’clock. She walked about a half mile to wait for her ride. My dad had the car and went to work a little later after she left. We ‘kids’ got ourselves ready to go to school. Our sister played a big part in our lives until she married. Then it was my responsibility to see that we didn’t miss the school bus. We took pride in having a report card that indicated that we had no absent days.”
“My grandmother would occasionally spend a few days with us. It was like heaven to come home from school and find a big pot of chicken and dumplings simmering on the cook stove.”
“We were truly happy for all that we had and never considered ourselves ‘poor folks.’ My parents both had jobs, and we knew how to economize. Having a garden and a cow was a big help.”