Friday, March 09, 2012

AN OLD PIECE OF HISTORY

THINK YOU HAVE A SERIOUS RAKE? Well, I sure do. This rake has been in my family ever since I have known my family and then some! I know this rake is MUCH older than I (and I am glad something is!) A couple years ago, the old handle pretty much just disintegrated. It finally turned to dust, and I was, quite honestly, heartbroken. As you can see, this is no ordinary rake. Nope. It may have a different name in other parts of the country, but around here, this is known as a shatters rake. Guess that is because it is used for raking shatters! Ordinary rakes just don’t do the job like these rakes once did. I don’t know if they can even be found anymore, but back in the days when the strawberry was king, shatter rakes were most useful. An "ordinary" yard rake would do a lot of damage, and not be able to handle as many shatters. You see, farmers covered their strawberry plants with shatters over the winter. They didn’t dump chemicals in the soil, they didn’t buy fancy ph gauges, no fertilizers, they just wintered their berries under a cover of shatters. Now some parts of the Shore call them shatts. “Fereigners” call them pine needles… the long pine needles like those from the loblolly pine. Here is one of those pine trees in the winter - this is a baby, just about 5 feet tall at this point. See how long those needles are? When they fall to the ground, we call them shatters. I don't know why fereigners can't get a handle on that name. Fereigners? That’s what the old folks called folks from further away than the “come here” states (MD, Del, PA, NC, SC). Come here’s were tolerated... fereigners, not as much. Most ‘come here’s’ eventually learn the local names of things and how to pronounce them, fereigners have a harder time, and some fereigners spend all their time trying to correct the locals on what they have called things for generations. Sigh. Most of those folks come from one particular state, but I won’t mention that. (Reminds me of a favorite bumper sticker that says, “We’re RURAL, not stupid.”
Anyway, back to the rake… I have tried to survive without it, but after cleaning up a big chunk of the East 40 here, I decided to get a new handle for my old friend. I looked in a number of places, from Lowes to Tractor Supply (the most expensive of all,) knowing our local building supply place would be outrageous. I never did see one for less than $28. That’s just a dumb old handle, folks! Then, I thought of Jaxons – an old timey hardware store where much of their stock is made in America, and they actually help fix things! What a novel idea! I called them on the phone and not only did they agree to help me out, they actually KNEW what a shatters rake was! The man that fixed it actually appreciated its age and spent an hour (and 2 drill bits) getting the new handle to work with the ancient rake. Yep, it can be called ancient, we know it is well over 100 years old. Best of all, the new handle cost just over $10. Well, no... the best part was to see someone caress the old steel and treat it with reverence.
The newer rakes might be as wide from side to side, but there is a lot of difference in the length of the tines and the space between them. Then there is the flimsy metal thing that holds the rake to the handle. This thing from China (that cost nearly $30) will come apart in a couple more years with its one size fits all skimpy little sleeve that the handle fits into. Well, you can see the difference. The old rake will last as long as I need it to, and when I am gone whoever inherits it or buys it will probably consider it a piece of junk – but I bet it will outlive them, too. Maybe the Smithsonian would like it? A piece of Americana!


A SERIOUS RAKE comparison of my newest rake, made in China, no doubt, and my old friend. We were trying to figure out if this rake got twisted somehow, or if it is made this way. The guys concluded it was made this way as the steel in it is so strong, it burned up a drill bit trying to get the nail out and they could not imagine any way it could have gotten twisted unless it was made this way. All I can say is I can't wait to get outside and use it!

3 comments:

spaceflighter said...

So happy to hear you can't wait to try it out! And I know just the place to give it a real try out -- my yard!! As you know, I have shatters you can sink up to your ankles in.

My first impression of "the rake" is that it reminded me of a hay rake. I can see how the off-set tines would help rake shatters without clogging up the way a garden or leaf rake does.

Although I just finished raking the entire grass area (you notice I didn't say lawn) I started in the front more than a week ago and it could use a going over. Does the rake handle pine cones too? My front yard is littered with pine cones and small pine boughs brought down by the gusty winds we've been having.

Normally, I just use my grass cutter with an old blade (cuz it gets beat up pretty well) and the grass catcher bag to get most of it up.

So as they say in this region of the country, "Come on over -- hear." (Said with a Rhode Island accent.)

troutbirder said...

I do believe this is the first time I've ever seen a post on rakes... and an interesting at that. Now I'm heading out to the garden shed to look for ideas... :)

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

Love your sturdy looking rake. It looks like it belongs on a farm and not some "in town" home.

Local expressions give language so much colour.

I used to get my AOL tech help from India. When AOL is trying to load a small figure on the lower right moves through three squares.I refer to this wee fellow a a "bon homme". It occurred to me one day that when I said to the tech guy in India that the wee bon home moved to the second square and did not go further to load the software, he must wonder what I was talking about. The Bon Homme is the mascot of the Quebec Winter Carnival, in its original use.

I am off to the d├ępanneur (literally "one who get you out of a jam) for a few items. ( I will let you look this word up for yourself.