26 March 2016

Tools of the Trade

A survey published in the 2013 book Canadians and their Pasts by a team of seven prominent Canadian researchers found that while Canadians engage most with the past by looking at old photographs (83%) and watching historical movies on TV (78%), third most common was passing on heirlooms (74%). That’s well ahead of creating family trees (20%).
What kind of heirlooms?
Perhaps medals. Many of us have them from ancestor’s war service. Issued by the million they’re unique only for the name inscribed on the rim.
I have a silver tea service inscribed as a gift from his parishioners to my great grandfather in 1894 when he left the Lancashire parish where he was vicar. While not a tool of the trade it speaks to his calling.
As a kid growing up I remember curiously play with a slide rule my father had in his desk drawer. I didn’t understand how to use it at the time. He perhaps used it as an engineer plying the seas with the New Zealand Shipping Company, or perhaps while training. There was also a wood and brass mariner’s telescope perhaps used to scan the horizon in the spare moments he wasn’t in the engine room on voyages between the UK and New Zealand.
From my mother, she treasured a book on radio engineering that belonged to her brother killed in a flying accident with the RAF.
As a former meteorologist I'd choose to hand down a geostrophic wind scale or tephigram (Google them!).
What ancestor’s tools of the trade handed down do you value and what will you be handing down?


Nancy in Kingston said...

My uncle was in the US Merchant Marine during World War II. I have his US Navy Cookbook, published 1942 - it would come in handy the next time I need to prepare beans or some other "gourmet" dish for 500!
I think likely he acquired it AFTER his ship was sunk off of Brisbane, Australia. As a child, hearing him talk of "losing my ship", I wondered how one could lose something as big as a ship. Now I'm sorry I didn't ask what ship, when it sank, was it bombed or torpedoed, etc. He did mention getting ashore, presumably on a boat or life raft. So I would think he acquired the cookbook after that, when he was reassigned to another ship.

Gail B said...

I have two coffin plates from a great grandfather's coffin --one a Rest In Peace manufactured one, quite slick, and the other, bounded by black velvet or fine cloth, more crudely done in that is gives his name 'James Geddes' in fine script, 'died' in less great script, then age, in a rather more pedestrian hand, with age and date, and then quite crudely 'drowned'. It is a wonderful souvenir of a man who had some means to prepare for his death by preparing this way, but not, of course, knowing the exact date and day of his demise.

I have used them in articles I wrote for the Wellington Cty OGA branch newsletter, with photos.

You never know what you might be bequeathed.

Randy Seaver said...

I saw your image and thought "that's a really extensive but strange looking family tree."

A slide rule was my constant companion from 8th grade through college, when I learned to program in FORTRAN. Then we got a scientific calculator in 1970 or so and the slide rule sits in my desk drawer hidden from prying eyes, a treasure to be found by the daughter who cleans out my desk. I keep waiting for one of the grandchildren to be really interested in math so I can give it to him or her.

Jean said...

One of my great-grandfathers and several of his sons were tailors. I have in my sewing tools now a couple of their thimbles and a bone folder with one of the great-uncles' initials carved into it.