The other day, I ventured into the lumber department of Home Depot. I had a creative project in mind. Others watched as I browsed the area with a level of ease because there were no other women visible at that time.
As I found what I was looking for, a memory resurfaced from my past childhood. In the mid-50’s, our family lived at 12 East Fay in Memphis, Tennessee. There were six of us with four girls and of course our two parents. We had a small house at the end of the street and next door? There was a lumber yard.
So, all those sawmill smells and memories rolled forth at the same time as I looked at wooden planks in the store. We not only lived next door to the lumber yard entry, but we took it one step further as children. We used to walk through the lumber yard to go to Southgate Mall, mostly to probably buy candy. Back then, we could choose the candy of our choice, and have it weighed and put in a little, small bags.
Interestingly, each of us had different tastes and we left happy after leaving the store, Katz. The store’s logo was a sign of a huge cat that hung high outside. There were several other shops in the mall including a Pic Pac or Kroger grocery store. There were sometimes small carnivals for children with rides held there and stationed in the mall’s parking lot.
Somehow, we never got lost when we used the lumber yard as a shortcut. I suspect that our father showed us the way and depended on my oldest sister, Cheryl, to lead us through safely. When we emerged from the winding path through the lumber yard, it was like re-entering civilization whether we were going to the mall or returning home.
Thus, wood has and still plays a special role in my life. My father had an on-going workshop where he built things such as cabinets or tables. We sometimes had to sit on one side of the plank as he sawed and worked on getting his specifications down to perfection. Later in my life, I even purchased an unfinished roll-top desk and had a good time sanding it and adding shellac to give it the finishing touches. Thankfully, I had a pair of helping hands to get the job done.
So, as an adult, I gleefully embrace the daintiness of choosing choice fabrics for house decorations like my mother or maintaining a skeleton tool case like my father. There must be a screwdriver, a hammer, a wrench, some nails and screws and yes, a paintbrush and some shellac on hand at the home front. It takes all the particles and pieces of our lives to make a composite whole.
Every snippet of life is a story, and we all have trillions of life events that emerge as we make daily choices. Sometimes, we must get still to remember why we like what we like and why certain things are easy for us. Who would have thought that down in Dixie where Cotton Was King, there would be a lumber yard that made a huge impact on this appreciator of wood?
July 23, 2022