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A Great Find at my Local Hardware Store

Posted by bj on Saturday, April 11, 2009

This morning I made the pilgrimage down the hill to Miller's Hardware in West Easton to buy my seeds for my garden. This place is an anomaly here, one of the few small oldtimey businesses that hasn't been pushed out by the arrival of Home Despot and Lowe's and the other cookie cutter Big Box stores.

You walk in and it's somewhat underlit, and smells like earth and oil and old iron. There's stuff in every corner, hanging from every wall, and it's obvious by looking that some of it's been there for many many years. But unlike Home Despot, I can always find EXACTLY what I need at Miller's, even though you could probably fit 30 or 40 of Miller's into Home Despot. Go figure. You can still buy one screw or one nut here, out of a little wooden drawer in a cabinet with dozens and dozens of little wooden drawers that covers much of one wall in one of the five rooms.

Today's trip was for garden seed. They package their own from large lots bought from a seed farm out in central PA Amish Country (no, this seed company has not been bought by Monsanto! No Genetically Modified seed with human genes in it here!) So I got a bunch of little brown envelopes today, mostly different sorts of greens-- Fordhook Chard, Endive, Salad Bowl Lettuce, Buttercrunch Lettuce, Romaine, Arugula, Detroit Dark Red Beets, Sugar Snap Bush Peas, Broccoli, Kentucky Pole Beans & Lutz Beets, as well as a half a pound of white sweet onion sets.

Well, I can never go in this place without wandering around and poking in the corners. One other time I found an old Coleman railroad style lantern, old new stock, that had to have been there for 40 years or more, and still had a $3.99 pricetag on it.

Today I bought a washboard. I don't think it's particularly old, but it's a real washboard, with a galvanized steel corrugated surface. It's a small one. Just the sort of thing you can slip in a backpack and take to an oldtime jam.

And today is the first time I asked for something he didn't have-- metal thimbles!

My new musicmaking washboard cost 8 bucks and change.

I love checking out in this place. The onion sets were weighed on an old balance scale. He adds everything up in his head, doesn't even ring it in on the cash register. Just as well, since the ornate brass cash register dates from 1918 and probably doesn't go over $99.99 total on any sale.

The washboard will debut at the jam this coming Tuesday. I'll hand it to one of our spectators and invite them to join the circle . . .

16 comments on “A Great Find at my Local Hardware Store”

OTJunky Says:
Saturday, April 11, 2009 @5:13:29 PM

Uhhh - better be careful who you hand that thing too.... ;-)


Rene Says:
Saturday, April 11, 2009 @5:42:02 PM

May serve two purposes if the economy continues on a downward spiral.

bsed Says:
Saturday, April 11, 2009 @6:26:58 PM

I'd a bought the lantern!

bj Says:
Saturday, April 11, 2009 @6:32:22 PM

LOL! I did buy the lantern! That was on a prior trip to Millers.

FiddlerFaddler Says:
Saturday, April 11, 2009 @7:49:39 PM

Can you cross tune the washboard?

bj Says:
Saturday, April 11, 2009 @8:04:21 PM

Dunno, haven't tried it yet. :-)

fiddlepogo Says:
Saturday, April 11, 2009 @11:17:11 PM

Home Despot-
I love it!

The hot washboard playing device isn't thimbles-
There is a hot local washboardista who had some leatherworker
install RIVETS ( big ones IIRC, or maybe it was large snaps) in the fingertips of a pair of gloves.
VERY secure, won't come flying off in the middle of a groove like thimbles.
And lots of "found percussion devices" affixed to the top and sides of the washboard. One I think was a tuna can...

ViolaFiddler Says:
Saturday, April 11, 2009 @11:35:14 PM

hey, bj,
a friend bought a washboard you wear over your shoulders.
Kinda a Tin Man look and I think a new adaptation for Cajun tunes.
I gave her some Hagen Dass ice cream sticks for strumming with and she likes these best so far. I saw drum brushes used on a Cajun tune on utube. Good for slow waltze tunes. Have fun!

mudbug Says:
Sunday, April 12, 2009 @3:43:59 AM

Did you ever try purple stringbeans? They are easy to see when picking, and turn green when cooked, and have the most wonderful flavor. Worth hunting for. ............and play that washboard while you watch 'em grow!

playmorebluegrass Says:
Sunday, April 12, 2009 @5:53:12 AM

we have a real washboard that my mom's grandmother had. the way the economy is could serve two wash clothes and play music congrats on your find. make sure nothing happnes to it.♥

bj Says:
Sunday, April 12, 2009 @7:12:53 AM

Nope, never tried purple stringbeans. I'd have to order them, I think, unless Agway has them. Miller's pretty much stocks tried and true varieties, they don't go in much for the unusual stuff, though I have to admit I was surprised to find arugula and romaine. I'm also pretty fussy about where seeds come from, as you can probably guess from what I wrote. No Monsanto Frankenfood for this girl! I have to admit that the idea of being able to FIND the beans before they become huge and tough has a certain appeal to it.

The old washboards do come up on Ebay, but helping to keep Miller's in business is always part and parcel of buying anything there. The place has heart and soul.

Ozarkian DL Says:
Sunday, April 12, 2009 @8:14:00 AM

Like ur writings BJ....ur so expressionable. YUP.... the mom & pops are gittin harder ta find with
each passin day...ur lucky ta have one close. They are the true "HOME DEPOT's"..... ( what few r left ).

bj Says:
Sunday, April 12, 2009 @10:34:27 AM

Well, I just got some of the Peas in (I'm late with them this year! But spring is late so . . . ) The other thing I love about Miller's seed packets is that you get about 5 times as many seeds in one packet as in the commercial packets!

FiddleJammer Says:
Sunday, April 12, 2009 @10:45:28 AM

Tip of the hat to Robinson's Hardware on Western Avenue in Albany... same sort of place with personable folks to help answer questions.

Just to add about washboards... the wood can also be used for alternative percussion sounds.

Humbled by this instrument Says:
Monday, April 13, 2009 @8:17:42 PM

Later in the seasons I'll have twenty-five thousand apples on one tree, tons of peaches on four trees, almonds all along the creek on about three trees, English walnuts on two trees, black walnuts on 'bout twenty trees (but you can have all those 'cause they're miserable to crack), and I've got Itheral's spear or ground nut in the meadow, corn poking up, cucumbers too, lettuce everywhere (both the wild lactuca and the domestic Romaine), stinging nettle under the oaks, edible and great for zapping arthritic hand, acres of blackberries--but I ain't got me no washboard and a thimble!!!!! No Miller's store. Waaaaaaaah.

bj Says:
Monday, April 13, 2009 @8:24:17 PM

I'll trade you the washboard and thimble for your property . . .

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