Mom says a “contraption” should include moving parts. Ooookay…? I suppose that rules out the brass eagle I turned into a lamp finial or my bookcase – though I did put sliding doors on the bookcase. I told Mom that I’ve made whirligigs, with pantomimed arm movements while I was driving. She told me “pin wheel and put-your-hands-back-on-the-steering-wheel”. Good point. This moved into a wistful memory of Grandpa’s weather vane that we should’ve taken when we moved him from his house and the supposition that Great Grandpa Winter must've invented a lot of contraptions because he was a contraption kind of guy. Uncle John was working on a perpetual motion machine before he died. Maybe this kind of thing runs in families?
People with money just buy the parts they need or hire someone with the right parts and actual knowledge of what to do with them. Poor people come up with different answers. For example, there was a time when I wanted my brothers to fix a lawn tractor. Brother #1 admitted that work was at a stoppage until Brother #2 arrived, took apart a ball point pen, inserted the little spring, waved his magic wand, and the motor began to purr again. I’m pretty sure that taking apart a pen wasn’t written into the owner’s manual.
I admire this kind of cleverness, and I might even have influenced my brother’s alternative solutions to mechanical issues. I had a house with problems when brothers #1 and #2 were little. We spent a lot of happy weekends over projects. Since we didn’t have brawn, I said we needed to think smarter. Pipes won’t come apart? Let’s discuss levers. Let’s discuss fulcrums too or the advantages of a longer lever. Maybe we needed to discuss a &*#*^$% sledge hammer too, but more often we opted for persistence (stubbornness) and teamwork. Our planning sessions were fun and intense. We gained an appreciation for proper tools, which often led to networking and finding someone who would lend them to us – and of course, tools are always a good excuse for garage sales.
These ads have been sitting in a box for a long time without any real reason for their existence any more, and the sewer rings were cleverness along the lines of ballpoint pen springs. Prior to this innovation, the ring that held sewer lids in the street were a set made of solid cast iron. There wasn’t a standard size for sewer lids, so if you needed to replace the ring, you had to custom cast it, which was expensive and difficult. Making an adjustable ring meant easier and less expensive road repairs. Sewer lid technology may have grown by leaps and bounds since I did these, but at the time, I was pleased to get the chance to do illustrations for a big art studio. Cleveland is an industrial kind of town, so I didn’t get to paint cute little bunnies very often – though I can show you endless how-to illustrations of hands holding wrenches, paint brushes, paint rollers, utility knives… Hey, if nothing else, ya gotta admit that’s a great tire!