Hudson: Occupier

If you ever saw kids tearing open Christmas presents,  you know what they play with most often. It’s  the box the toys  came in.

One day when my son Jamie was a toddler,  I was very busy doing something.  I don’t remember what it was, so it wasn’t very important, or I would remember it.

Ambling Along by Jay Hudson

Ambling Along
by Jay Hudson

I do remember what happened with Jamie and I.  He was restless and kept getting in my way.  I had to figure out some way to occupy him while I finished whatever I was doing that day.

I went outside and started looking through my collection of things I had saved.  I have a Great Depression mentality.  I save everything after it’s intended purpose has worn out.  Most times, everything can be used for something other than what it was made for. When I wear something out, it’s ready for the landfill.

I always have a short piece of wood around.

This time I found a handle from a galvanized trash can.  It was just one of those u-shaped pieces of metal that is bent so it fastened to the side of a trash can.

When Jamie saw me pick it up he started asking questions.

“What you making Daddy.”

“I ‘m making an occupier,” I said.

” What’s an occupier Daddy?”

“Just watch and see,” I answered.

I nailed the handle to the flat side of a piece of 2×4 that was about 12 inches long.

It looked like a Fred Flintstone lunch box.

Jamie knew immediately what the handle was for. He grabbed it and started grinning.  He had to run show Mama his new toy.

” Look Mama, Daddy made me an occupier,” he proudly told his Mom.

He played with it all evening. Sometimes it was a truck. At other times, a bulldozer. He was content at last.  He carried it around for several days before he grew tired of it.

We kept it for several years until another occupier was needed.

The other occupiers were my tools. He was at that age where he wanted to play with pliers, hammers, screwdrivers, etc.  I never locked my tools up,  so when he wanted to play with them he just picked out whatever he wanted.

When I needed a tool I had to look all over the yard for it.  I tried in vain to teach him to put things back where they belonged when he finished with them.

I never  succeeded.

I was working as a purchasing agent for Tartan Marine Co. during this time.  Salesmen always gave me samples of their products when they came calling. One day a salesman gave me a very handy push-type hand-drill like those our  cabinet makers used.  It had a bit in the chuck, plus a place in the handle to carry other bits. To operate it, you just put the bit where you wanted a hole, and then pushed back and forth with the handle until the hole was drilled.

It was so simple a child could operate it.

I took it home and put it with all the other tools. I forgot about it since I didn’t need to drill any holes.

Jamie discovered it one day while I was at work. He quickly learned how to use it.

I  had a nice little two-man, fiberglass fishing boat in the back yard. That is the area Jamie played in most of the time.

Somehow,  Jamie’s attention turned to the boat while he had the drill in his hands. I guess all the mischief I got into as a kid must have been a genetic thing after all. He put the bit on the boat and started pushing the handle. It worked so well he decided to keep drilling. Making holes was a lot of fun. He had all afternoon to practice making holes.

It was several days before I discovered his handiwork.  I knew immediately what happened. The boat was not worth all the work needed to plug the holes. There was at least fifty holes in it, maybe more. I didn’t bother to count them.

I don’t know what made Jamie do it except curiosity.  He never had an Eddie Haskel, or Beaver Cleaver cousin like I did when I was a kid.

It has been twenty-five years since the occupier. I have never owned another boat since then.

But, Jamie has a boat.

I think I am getting a little senile in my old age. If I just had a drill!

Jay Hudson is a native of Richmond County. He has been a NASCAR fan since the Daytona 500 in 1959 and considers Fred Lorenzen NASCAR’s first superstar and the best driver of all time. He lives in Rockingham.

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