Vol.XIII No.IX Pg.8
November 1976

Stuff About Things

Robert F. Turner

Did you ever make a spool tractor? A wooden spool from Clarks O.N.T. number eight thread makes a good one. First, the rims of the spool must be cut with notches, evenly spaced and not too deep. Then, sneak into the kitchen and cut a one-quarter inch thick slice from the bar of Octagon soap which mother uses for washing dishes. Maybe she wont mind when she sees how industrious you are. Trim the soap into a round washer which fits the end of the spool, and bore a hole through the center.

Next, you need a button (two-holer if possible, a bit smaller than the soap), and a tack, a rubber band, and a small stick or kitchen match. Drive the tack partially into one end of the spool, hook the rubber band over the tack and thread through the center of the spool, through the soap, through the button, and around the end of the stick or match; in that order. Now, all you need is a little spit (on the soap), and you can wind up the stick, place on the floor, and watch it go.

Now, Ill dare you to try this experiment. Spend ten or twenty dollars for a fancy toy to give your small boy; and compare his reaction to that which you will see if you tell him about the spool tractor, then help him gather materials and make one.

The same principle will work with your wife. Sharpen the kitchen knives, hang those drapes she has wanted up, or do whatever it takes to give her some personal attention; and it will mean more to her than an expensive gift your secretary chooses and mails to her. The kid with home-made toys, and the wife with a home-loving husband are not nearly so poor as some folk seem to think. There are riches that money can not buy.

I dont know where the idea originated, that happiness has to sparkle. Maybe it came from the fact that gold glitters, or diamonds reflect light — and these are traditional gifts. But morning dew, or fresh snow, also sparkle — as you and your wife have the first cup of coffee, and talk over the coming day. Furs are warm, but not nearly so warm as the touch of a hand when cold winds of trouble blow. James Russell Lowell was right when he penned: The gift without the giver is bare.

Come on Dad! I double-dare you to help your boy make a spool tractor.