Where I was raised, when I was raised, there were scant few Ace Hardwares, there were no Home Depots, nor were there any Lowes. On the island that I still call home there was either City Mill, down by the enormous pineapple, or there was the ubiquitous Sears, jammed into a mall. Such was the nature of DIY back then. If work was to be done, it was often left to contractors or handymen. Homeowners where I lived had neither the inclination or the need to get their hands dirty. Contractors were efficient, timely, inexpensive and trustworthy. Not that they aren’t today, it’s just that homeowners today are less threatened by the scope of their home improvement dreams than they were.
What I’m trying to say is that there simply wasn’t a market for DIY box stores in the islands. If you needed a well built tool, with a bulletproof warranty, you bought the brand that was available. And it didn’t seem that there were all that many brands to choose from back then. Either that, or you borrowed the tool you needed from your uncle who worked at the shipyard. And it seemed to me that almost everyone I knew had a calabash uncle who worked at the shipyard.
One day, after a weekend that included the accidental and near-nefarious removal of a golf cart roll-cage, I realized I needed a heavy drill motor for ‘metal fabrication’ purposes. Due to the nature of the repair, borrowing a drill motor from my father or a calabash uncle would only raise eyebrows. This spur-of -the-moment need forced me to buy one of my first truly adult tools and I say ‘adult’ meaning more grown-up, as opposed to something from a late night video series.
I studied what drill motors were available in town from the various vendors around town over the next week. This happened to be pre–internet, so my coffee table was awash in colorful bits of paper from the previous weeks sales sections. I made my choice, and on Saturday morning I prepared to get up and go shopping for the drill I hoped I’d own for the rest of my life.
I didn’t even get my car out of the driveway. What I ended up coming home with that day was a garage sale purchase from a neighbor’s open house. It was a behemoth the likes of which would strike fear into the cold, soul-less steel hearts of even the largest of my home DIY drill bits. It wasn’t the biggest drill I’d worked with. It wasn’t the strongest drill I’d worked with either, what it was, was an old-school, all aluminum bodied tribute to the cold war era of Ike and JFK. A large, dull-silver, cast alloy body with a motor that sounded like a jet powered cement mixer full of pavers. It was probably the best garage sale item I’ve come across, and it cost me close to nothing.
After many moons of ownership, the introduction of the internet (not by me of course)and sundry projects all over, it still works. It has outlived many of my other drill motors, with their fancy battery packs, LED-lit ‘chuckless’ drivers and high impact molded plastic bodies. Which begs the question: Who was the first guy to say “They don’t make ’em like they used to?” and can I buy him a beer? If you couldn’t tell whether the item above was a drill motor or a ray gun, maybe you could use some MANVIL cards.