Building With Imagination
ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN LANGLEY TIMES NEWSPAPER
AUTHOR: Jim MacGregor
Your Local Handyman's - Construction Zone At Langley Community Days!
The weather behaved for the 15th annual Community Day in Langley City last week and good on the City for keeping that tradition alive. It’s a great reminder of what community really means, everyone coming together.
One of the hot spots at the park again this year was the Construction Zone. Good on Bill the Handyman for providing the wood, the tools and the time. Back when the event was being hatched, the idea of giving kids a place to hammer and build was first met with a few raised eyebrows, after all, most of these kids had never seen a hammer.
It’s really very simple. You supply pieces of wood of all shapes and sizes, you supply nails and hammers and glue, and then you throw in three or four hundred kids over the course of the day and tell them to build something. There are no blueprints, no plans, no sketches just rolls and rolls of imaginations. There is no time limit and no grading or criticizing, simply hammering until the builder is satisfied. It is time away from the X-Box, the Wii, the Playstation and the cartoons. It is time outside in the fresh air and it is time spent with other kids, laughing and sharing.
All day long crafts and creations stream by; airplanes, ships, bird houses, thingamajigs and whatchamacallits, each one designed with the unique perspective of the budding architect. I saw one boy with a square crisscrossed by slats. “It’s a house,” he told me, “But Mom said we had to go before I got the other three walls built.” I’m sure he’s destined to have his own TV renovation show. His brother proudly held up a picture frame for Dad. Perfect, most Dads cherish those hand made gifts.
Lt. Jerry Collins, a New York firefighter who worked for weeks on 9-11 rubble told me the story of the afternoon they were probing the pile amidst huge slabs of concrete and twisted steel when one of the men spotted a small blue, not quite perfect, ceramic dish. It was untouched, not a chip or a scratch there in all that devastation. Inside was scratched the message, ‘Happy Birthday Dad.’ He said the men treated it as if it was a Rolex or a diamond ring and bagged it to be sent for identification. They knew its value.
I made a cold chisel in school once and when the teacher tested it, a small crack appeared on the corner and I got five out of ten. It apparently wasn’t case hardened properly. Dad used it for years and the crack never got worse. I wanted to go back and appeal that mark but in the end, Dad kept it in his tool box, so I had passed after all.
I have no doubt those masterpieces made it home and I hope they were all well received. I imagine some are sitting on bedroom dressers or hanging from the ceiling or on display somewhere. I trust the hammer bruises and the slivers are accepted as signs of a job well done and the builders, whether they realize it or not, have a satisfaction that they created something rather than destroying imaginary creatures on imaginary electronic battlefields.
After all, the respected vocation of carpentry has been around for ages. I seem to recall stories about a young carpenter who grew up to do some pretty amazing things. At least that’s what McGregor says.