That Lumber Yard Smell
The Nostalgia your looking for
I went looking for a lumber yard a while ago....not the kind you find in the newest sections of your town, but the kind with the guys in flannel shirts just hanging around. You know, the older gray haired carpenters that your dad used to tell you about. This is the place were you step out of your truck and onto a wooden walkway that leads to the front door of the place and oh yeah the doors are made of wood too, not one of those automatically opening ones made of glass and steel. When you step through that front door the floor continues to be wood and covered sometimes with traces of sawdust that those old gray haired guys brought in. The conversations that you catch at the front counter and down the isles have to do with the latest project or tool and the smell of the place brings back memory's of you and your first woodsmithing teacher and trip to the halls of lumber and tools.
I found it!
The place I found that day had most of what my memory and ideal's tell me should be there. I walked in the door and several guys who work there were absorbed in late morning conversation, but one was quick to come help me. He gave me time to articulate what I needed and lead me to the right place. He wasn't impatient and seemed genuinely interested in what I was doing and was quite helpful. I am really a fool for a tool so I felt right a home looking around at all they had. They actually have a lighted level now....very cool. Also they have one of the best ship auger bits I've ever used and it is made by a company called Irwin...hopefully I'll need one, (this means work is picking up). Yep sure as heck they have the wooden pencils, the glue, the table saw and a whole wall of hammers and tools of every wood cutting and measuring sort. I've got to tell ya again...I felt right a home:)
Hoping for preservation
This day and age this type of lumber yard is harder and harder to find. The big box stores have nearly driven them out of existance... you know the small family owed operation, barely able to keep the doors open and the prices down. My hope is that as we search for these places and, when we find them we do business there, that we bring our children and grand children along, that they might enjoy the same sights and smells and hear the conversations about projects and methods of doing things, hopefully one day instilling a desire to cut some wood and repair something broken.
I found one recently near where we currently live in North Carolina.There were a few gray hairs coming and going out of that place and come to think of it the owner has some gray hair too. It is more of a hardware store with with a good supply of outdoor gardening tools and power equipment, chain saws, hedge trimmers, with a section for electrical and plumbing needs as well. I have to say I was both pleased and suprised by what I found. The place definitely had that old time feel with it's wooden barrels used as end caps on the tight spaced isles with shelving full of a viariety of tools and parts of all kinds. I also compared prices on a few of those items and found them to be right in line with the big box stores along with a cheerful staff ready to help with any of my needs.
The next time I need something, guess where I'm going...that's right, I going to the lumber yard where the old gray haired guys hang out. To where the sawdust is on the floor and the men behind the counter know everything there is to know about wood but don't act like it. I'll walk in the door and breath deep, nothing in the world smells quite like fresh wood and sawdust. It isn't any wonder that the very builder of the universe itself, was a carpenter.