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COLUMN: Christmas in February

About a week ago, I was like a 6-year-old child on Christmas morning — thrilled by the sudden inundation by new and delightful “stuff.” My next-door neighbor and friend, Mike Sauer brought me a wonderful surprise.

Mike works in a fairly large metal fabrication shop in the Metroplex where they make an almost infinite array of metal products. You name it and they can probably build it. They often sub-contract with other companies to provide components of larger projects. As I understand it, one such company recently completed a major contract and had large supply of leftover, unsorted, surplus parts remaining. Among them, nuts, bolts and washers dumped together in boxes awaiting disposal as scrap. They gave him a huge load of these. With more than he could possibly use, Mike, like neighbors of old, hauled a big load to my side of the fence.

Years ago, I went to a going-out-of-business auction at the old Texline Trucking Company, a rock hauler working out of what is now the Vulcan Materials quarry in southwest Parker County. One item at the auction that particularly struck my fancy was a large metal bin filled with new bolts, nuts, and washers, from 1/4 inch to 3/4 inch in diameter. While I was quite determined to buy it, another person at the auction was almost equally inclined. Although I had to give more than I intended, I froze him out, and I’ve never regretted it. For almost 25 years, I have had access to an essentially unlimited assortment of new nuts and bolts, many of which were high-grade alloy.

Growing up on the pore farm, we spent a lot of time looking for nuts or bolts. We rarely ever had the correct replacement but generally we could scratch through boxes and buckets of rusty, greasy, and/or often abused fasteners with buggered threads to find something that would fill the need. With the purchase of my assortment at the Texline auction, those days were now history at the pore farm. In addition, I have been able to save many a neighbor a 20-mile trip to Weatherford to get a bolt for an 8N Ford tractor or some such contraption.

Over the years I have replenished some of them, but many sizes have gradually become depleted. With Mike’s marvelous generosity, the bins have been restocked better than new with high-grade bolts. Saturday a week ago, I spent the dreary rainy day in my heated shop happily sorting through this delightful treasure, carefully measuring each piece and putting in its proper pigeonhole. The assortment now includes 7/8 inch and one-inch sizes.

My wife Helen doesn’t share my elation over this wonderful assortment of bolts. To her, a bolt is a large roll of fabric from which quilts can be made. To my son, a bolt is a short arrow that he shoots from his cross bow. To others, a bolt may be a streak of lightning, a locking mechanism for a rifle breach, a plant prematurely setting seed heads, bolting a door, a runaway by a horse, or any sudden and unexpected event.

As for old farmers living the good life, they’re round threaded pieces of steel in assorted sizes, and thanks to a wonderful and generous neighbor, I now probably have a lifetime supply.

Larry M. Jones is a retired Navy Commander and aviator who raises cattle and hay in the Brock/Lazy Bend part of Parker County. Comments may be directed to

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