Will Edwinson

Author & Storyteller

Linseed Oil

Will Edwinson PhotoA few years ago I offered my eight-pound double-jack sledgehammer to a concrete busting project at the Presbyterian church. I mentioned that said hammer had spent the better part of twenty years resting in the back end of my pickup exposed to the elements.  The handle was somewhat weathered and cracked, giving rise to small slivers all along the handle. I mentioned that I thought it would be wise for whoever used it to be sure to wear gloves to prevent a handful of slivers.

The fellow I was telling all this to said: “That’s no problem. I’ve got a linseed barrel.  I can soak your hammer.  After a few days in the barrel and a week or so to dry,” he said,  “it can be sanded, and will most likely be restored to a semblance of its original splendor and will be good for another twenty years in the back of your pickup.”

I said to him: “Great, I’ll bring it over, and you can give it the full treatment.”

This discussion of linseed oil brought back memories of some of the chores of my teenage years. Dad was a lover of using linseed oil for about anything made of wood that he thought needed preserving.  In those days most of the grain beds on farm trucks were of wooden construction.  The floors were made up of one inch by two inch strips stood on edge and nailed together. They were sanded until  the strips were all the same height, which made for a nice smooth floor.  It was my job to keep those floors well oiled.  Dad had two reasons for this.  One was for preservation of those floors against the elements; the other for expediency.

The expediency was in conjunction with the unloading of grain. Linseed oil, after it dries becomes quite hard, and makes for a slick surface.  The majority of trucks in those days were not equipped with bed hoists, so the entire truck was lifted up by a hoist at the grain elevator inducing the grain to slide out the back end.  After a few loads had slid across these floors they would become slick as ice, thus eliminating the need to climb up into the box to sweep any grain remaining in the corners or along the edges.  This helped to facilitate the speediness of the unloading process and getting the truck on its way back to the field.

The other use for linseed oil that Dad was fond of, much to my dismay, was oiling the roof of the house. When the house was built in 1948, the1955 standard fare for roofs was wood shingles.  Dad liked the natural look, so instead of painting these shingles for preservation,  they got a good dowsing of linseed oil every summer.  Guess who was assigned this task.  Yup, every summer in July up on the roof I would go with my roof broom and my bucket of linseed oil for the annual oiling of the roof.  As I look back on it, I wonder how I survived that project.  I don’t remember using any kind of safety harness, (that would have been wimpy for a teenage macho farm kid) and the roof on our house was pretty steep.

In the words of an old gentleman friend of mine, houses in those days had roofs so steep, the ridge could split a snowflake. Ours wasn’t quite that steep, but, still, it was steep.  I don’t remember exactly how I managed to get down off the roof after I had it oiled.  I must have started oiling at the top so that I was standing on the dry un-oiled portion as I worked my way down.  And I don’t remember nailing any cleats to the roof, either; but maybe I did.

Anyway, the good Lord must have had his reasons for keeping me around all these years, because I have certainly given Him several occasions to necessitate His need to save me from the grim reaper; my roof oiling capers being one of them.

Dad did eventually acquiesce to Mom’s request to paint the shingles, which eliminated my need to oil the roof every summer, but again,  who do you think who got the job of painting the roof.  Yup, you’re right again. A few years later,  Dad had a tile roof installed, which totally eliminated my stints on the roof. Thank the Lord!

If you like my little reminisces in this blog, you might enjoy reading my book. Buddy…His Trials And Treasures. It’s a book of adventures about a young boy growing up in rural America during the 1940s.  Buddy is somewhat reminiscent of Tom Sawyer in that he quite often finds himself in hot water for which he must pay the consequences. Unlike Tom, however, Buddy’s misdeeds are without forethought.  They happen because Buddy is…well…he’s just Buddy.  You can get a free copy of the book by clicking on the free download button at upper right of this page.

LouIsa Cover PhotoAlso, if any of you are fans of Western novels, I have a new one coming out later this Fall entitled LouIsa—Iron Dove Of The Frontier. It’s a story loosely based(very loosely) on the life of LouIsa Houston, Sam Houston’s one-quarter Cheorkee granddaughter.  She was, in real life, married for a few years to Morgan Earp, Wyatt Earp’s younger brother.  LouIsa is an unusual lady.  She played classical piano music in the frontier saloons.  Did this work for LouIsa?  Well, you’ll have to read the book when it comes out to find out. 🙂 You can read a little bit about LouIsa, and some excerpts from the book by going up to the “Books” link, or the “In The Works” link at the top of this webpage. Enjoy.

—Will

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