Monday, April 4, 2011

Great Grandpa Brooks' Metal Handled Hatchet

My Dad kept this old hatchet his whole life, it was given to him by his Grandpa Brooks when he was just a young boy. He told me the short story many times, and always reminded me "It's the metal handle hatchet in the basement with my initials marked on it." While I was in college in the 1980's I took several Geology classes. One was a summer field class where we would go rock hounding every weekend. I couldn't wait for the hiking, climbing and digging for rock specimens and fossils. One day I was showing Dad the required equipment for the class, which included a hard hat, rock hammer and testing supplies like hydrochloric acid. I had to run to the store and left my backpack leaning against the chair where I had been sitting. When I got back, there were four items with my pack. As I picked them up, he said "I thought you might be able to use those two rock hammers for your Geology stuff. The smaller one was that one I had still hanging around, just needed a new handle. And the other one is the one that came from Grandpa Hall's, remember? It was just the head - didn't have a handle on it..." He had put new wooden handles on both of them for me. I now had three different sized rock hammers for my geology digs and an old rock chisel he had included as well.
 The other item really surprised me, it was the metal handled hatchet. I asked "Isn't this your Grandpa Brooks' hatchet?" " Yep", he said, "figured you might as well have that too, since I always kept them together down there." That soon had a place on the wall, next to my Grandpa Hall's Cobbler set. But the mining tools went straight into my rock pack. and that's where they stay. And they've gotten quite a bit of use and still do every so often. Those two older style hammers were the smaller sized ones that the miners carried on their belts in the coal mines, my Grandpa Hall worked in the coal mines all his life, and my Dad also had a very short stint in the mines as a young man. Although Great Grandpa Brooks, my Dad's Maternal Grandfather, had worked as a Carpenter for most of his life.       

James George Brooks

Thomas James Hall

James G. Brooks was born in 1868, so that made him about 48 when my Dad was born in 1916. It must have been in the early 1920's when he gave his grandson the metal handled hatchet. Dad's story included the description of his Grandpa helping him stamp his initials into the metal of the head of the hatchet. It wasn't new when it was given to him, it was one that his grandfather had already had and was used. Together they punched the letter "T' for Thomas one one side, and the letter "H" on the other, for Hall.

My Dad's full name was Thomas James Hall, Thomas for his father, and his middle name of James after his Grandpa Brooks. He seemed proud of that and was sure to point out who his namesakes were.

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