The Parts Archive

It doesn’t take much for the conversation to shift to all things mechanical in some company – not my company, certainly, definitely, and most emphatically. However, one brother is a heavy duty mechanic and the other is a farmer. My husband is an iron worker/welder. Put the three of them together and they easily slip into discussions about the intricate workings of this or that piece of equipment and these discourses (which sound like arguments but apparently aren’t) can and do go on for hours.

They fascinate me and bore me to death simultaneously. I really should try to educate myself a little more about such matters but then what? They have a genuine interest to fuel their discussions whereas I would only be trying to contribute a word or two to keep from being a bump on a log.

the parts by connie sobchak

My fascination arises from the depth of their recollections. For instance, Gary stopped at brother Dave’s shop the other day to pick up a bolt. Now, we have roughly eight hundred and forty-seven bolts in our garage but none of them were right. Fortunately, Gary remembered that Dave had just the one he needed in his collection of seventeen hundred and twelve bolts.

In this same shop I foolishly asked what the collection of parts occupying one whole shelf was from.  It was the inner workings of a pressure washer, I think and I got a little (extremely lengthy) lesson in how the parts went together and what was missing. There were no bolts involved.

One day at our old place in the meadows, a farmer stopped by to borrow a motor. I motioned vaguely towards the various items in our shop and he found what he needed. He had recalled a conversation from ten years prior wherein Gary had told him about buying some motors from a shop which promised to jiggle the weight off you. At the time I wondered what possible use we (or anyone for that matter) might have for these items but obviously they were useful enough that they were committed to the parts inventory I’m convinced some people – like the farmer in question – have in their heads.

This inventory extends to items large and small and it can be used to pinpoint events, times and people. For example, recently I posted some newspaper clippings I found in Mom’s old scrapbooks. When I look at one old photo, I see three people standing in front of a bulk box. I do not see the tractor pulling the bulk box and if I did, I certainly would know little about it, save that it was blue or red or green and big or small.

Some former students however, looked at the photo, reminisced a bit, then had this conversation:
What tractor do you think that is-the 7700 or 8210?
Jesus_______ you got a memory like an elephant! I actually think that’s the 7710 so I’m guessing it’s about ’85-’87.

I keep trying to compare this kind of knowledge to any particular subject about which I know a few things and I come up empty-handed. For the time being I will content myself with being intrigued by a way of thinking and knowing that baffles me and entertains me at the same time.


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