Tool Stupid

Today's Post
Why another of my don’t do stupid stories?

When I was ten or eleven in the late 1940s, a neighbor had an old axe grinder behind his tool shed. It had a large stone wheel in a frame with a seat.[mfn]The photo was copied from an e-bay sales add.[/mfn]
Axe Grinder The edge being sharpened was kept cool by dripping water from a small can fastened to the frame.

One hot day when he wasn’t home, I decided to see how fast I could get the wheel spinning in reverse so the water from the drip can would spray on my face. I moved it as fast as I could with the pedals, but the water only sprayed on my chest. I disconnected the rods that connected the pedals to the cranks on either side of the wheel. I turned the crank on one side by hand. I made it go faster and faster when it was unrestricted by the pedal mechanism.

I had a plan. I tried spinning it with one pedal attached. I could still get the wheel turning faster by cranking than by using the pedals. My plan was to get it going really fast then attach the pedal rod while the wheel was moving. At the right speed, my face would be sprayed with cooling water.

My plan didn’t work the first time I tried. My right little finger caught between the crank and axle before I got a full rotation.



The wheel stopped and I unwound my finger from the mechanism. The skin on the palm side held my finger on and the knuckle of the separated joint was exposed. It looked just like the bone ends from a chicken leg.

I pushed the bones together, so they looked right and closed the skin over the top. There was very little bleeding. I put the rod back on with my left hand and ran home. I put a small piece of cloth from my mother’s sewing kit over the skin flap and taped it as tight as I could. She didn’t pay much attention to it. With seven kids wounding themselves on a regular basis there wasn’t need for concern, except when an injury was brought to her attention.

Knowing I would be in trouble for using the axe grinder without the neighbor’s being present, I kept my hand well hidden and didn’t complain. I’m not sure if it was the second or third day when Mother noticed that my hand was swollen. Somehow, she got me to Parshall, ten miles from Van Hook, ND, to see the doctor.

He looked at it, put a small splint on my finger and said he couldn’t do much else at that point. I took off the splint and soaked it in warm water several times a day until the swelling went down.

Sometimes when my hand gets really cold, I feel a little ache in that joint, but other than that it has never bothered me, except when I see an axe grinder and the memory is rekindled.

Don’t do tool stupid!