Marvin Lurie

Mr. Russell’s Shovel

Mr. Russell came over to the house one day to show me the long handled shovel his grandson gave him for his 70th birthday. He was proud of that shovel and put it into my hands so I could feel its heft and balance and how the smooth ash handle tapered and bellied where he would put his hands around it to lever up a shovel full of dirt or gravel. I thought it was an admirable shovel and a worthy gift for 70 years, most occupied with shovels, backhoes and other things that bite into the earth to lay foundations and build houses.

My son gave me a pair of Channel Lock pliers with orange vinyl coated handles when he was ten. I think of him when I hold it. And sometimes I also think of Mr. Russell and the satisfaction on his grandson’s face when he saw how pleased his grandfather was with the shovel. Since then, I’ve given my heavy tools to my son. They are well made and should last, like my grandfather’s adjustable square made of varnished mahogany with brass fittings that was patented in 1885. I don’t use it. I keep it where I can look at it and see the marks where he always put his hands.

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