Sunday, October 28, 2012

sweet smell of motor oil

I love old heavy office supplies like heavy metal staplers, staples,  tape dispensers, wooden or metal stacking bins for organizing, and, all metal, except for its rubber feet 3-hole punch.  Real heavy duty work horses. I love the paint finishes as well, thick, metallic grays, shimmering teals, sea glass greens. Like the saying goes they don't make them like that any more.  When I find them I keep them and treasure them.

 I was using a vintage, finished with teal gray metallic paint, 3-hole punch to put holes into Wisteria's school paper's.  Vintage punch, most likely 50 years old or older. Maybe the paper was the vertebrate one about Amazon parrots or the plant about tomatoes.  I was putting them in shiny plastic binders for her presentation.  I was being lazy, I suppose, and putting through several sheets at a time along with the plastic binder sleeve  when the punch jammed.  It was no longer clamping down.

I put it under a fluorescent light so that I could see the works.  I'm not mechanically inclined but thought I could find the offending paper or plastic circles. I turned over the Mutual Centamatic Punch, No. 300, Made in Worchester, Mass U.S.A. I slipped and lifted off the long rectangular piece that held the harvested dots, shook it empty, still the center piston?/stamper? and it's attendant spring wasn't pushing downward.  I lifted it close to my face and myopic eyes peered over my eye glasses frame into the little holes, I caught a whiff of a familiar smell from long ago. Using a pointy steak knife I extracted several shiny plastic discs that had been jamming up the works.  I was so very happy that to have solved that real and vexing problem.

I brought the punch to my face again, to my nose, and took a deep inhale of motor oil.  Faint, old, nostalgic, and so familiar.  My father was a machinist in the 1960's when small manufacturers dotted our neighborhood.  The dads and some moms would walk down the block, around the corner to work.  When my father returned from work the aroma of motor oil infused his flannel shirts and dungarees.  The fragrance brought back memories of eagerly hugging him hello and brought tears to my eyes.


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