My brother and I liked to stand outside and throw a ball back and forth over the garage roof. I didn't get any sympathy the time the ball hit my nose because I didn't see it coming. The standard response from Mom for any kind of owie was, "It's a long way from your heart." That was her version of "Suck it up, Buttercup."
Not long after the baseball in the face incident, Mom or Dad discovered the ball was breaking the slate shingles when we didn't lob it up and all the way over when we threw. That was the end of "Blind Catch" and the garage retired to it's singular duty of providing a roof over the car and pickup.
The doors on this garage were as solid as the work bench inside. They weighed a ton, unlike modern aluminum doors. Perhaps I exaggerate, but they were very heavy. A counter-weight, spring, and pivot system made it possible for weak humans to open them. The weight was a metal box filled with sand and suspended from pulleys by a cable. If the spring tension, pivot point, and the weight were exact, the door would stay in any position.
This was a fine design for anyone over five feet in height. Opening the door was a little like a weight lifting routine. Grab the handle at the lower middle of the door and pull. Walk backward while the bottom of the door swings out and up. Watch out that it doesn't bark your shin and ruin your pantyhose. Once it reaches chest height, turn loose of the handle, take hold of the bottom edge of the door like an Olympic weightlifter doing the clean and jerk, and give it a mighty heave. Momentum swings it all the way up and inside the building where it parks securely on top of a supporting frame. While this maneuver is going on, the counterweight pulls the cable through a set of pulleys and rests inches from the floor.
If you were 6'2" like my grandfather, you just gave the handle a good pull, and the door catapulted into the top position. When my brother and I were little, he would let us hold onto the bottom of the door while he opened it.
For short people like me, closing the monstrosity required a different set of skills. Just jump up like a gymnast mounting the uneven bars, grab the edge of the door and ride it down, while the cable zips the box of sand back to the top.
Like people, even garage doors have a life expectancy. Although the wood was still as solid as the old workbench, the cable stretched and the weight box rusted and leaked sand like an hourglass. The two doors we used all the time were permanently parked in the open position for fear we'd never get them raised again.
Mom was a stickler for keeping the garage closed up. Open doors invited cats, dogs, birds, and possums while dirt and leaves blew in. She tried to keep the garage as clean as her house and didn't appreciate the extra work if she had to sweep it out. Why even park the car in the garage if birds could perch in there and whitewash it?
Sometime in the early 1980's, out of necessity, Dad replaced the worn-out, most-used middle doors with light-weight fiberglass roll-up doors. Mom had the luxury of a remote opener on her stall. A third door was removed from the pulley mechanism and fitted with hinges to swing open from the side. Instead of a farm truck, the lawn mower lived behind door number three. No one used the fourth door.
My mother worked the 5-9 shift at a restaurant for twenty-two years. The only exception was on Sundays when she worked two shifts. She went to town (a real town, not the one my grandparents lived in) at ten in the morning, waited tables through the busy noon hour, and came home at two o'clock for a nap before driving back to the restaurant.
One Sunday, Father's Day, in fact, she was rushing around to get to work. My dad had already been somewhere that morning, probably looking after his cattle, and had left the door open behind his pickup. His was the stall closest to the house. In her haste, Mom just walked through the open portal, jumped in her car and shifted into reverse. The rear bumper just fit in one of the spaces where a fiberglass panel should have been. In her new automatic garage door. The one she forgot to open.
|Can you imagine a bumper protruding from the left door, just below the handle?|
Naturally, she blamed Dad because he hadn't closed the other door. She would never have entered the garage through that door if it hadn't been open. She would have remembered to push the button and raise the door on her side if he had just closed his door like he was supposed to.
Since her car was wedged into the door, Dad had to take her to work in his pickup. She was late.
You can't imagine my dad's delight in this minor auto accident since she never did anything wrong. It didn't matter that Mom thought it was his fault.
Mom didn't plan to give Dad the Best Fathers' Day Gift in the history of the world, but she did. He didn't mind the cost of the replacement panel. He didn't even call the insurance agent. He derived years worth of mileage from that incident.
I hope all you fathers have as pleasant a day as he did.
Thanks to my writing friend, J, for helping me with some descriptions.