Bachelor of Steel Sculpture
He was an ace toolmaker but he hadn't learned that the ways of a woman cannot be measured with a micrometer
AT THE last minute the proctor of Midwest University tapped old Professor “Mike” Gilroy on the arm, and told him the commencement program had got so badly out of balance that the short individual presentation speeches to the honor graduates had to be eliminated.
So, when Professor Mike ran his withered fingers along the sheepskin tulxhe was handing to Fred Todd, all he had time for was. "See me at the Castle right after this tomfoolery is over, young fellow. You’ve got an earful coming.”
After that, 180 successful candidates for a bachelor's degree in engineering attempted to walk up as casually as Fred Todd had done and stroll back to their seats with their diplomas tucked under an arm. Apparently satisfied that his protégé was receiving indirectly a more significant tribute from his own classmates than a few banal phrases uttered in a cracked voice could pay. Professor Mike brazenly dozed through the ensuing two hours of speechmaking.
And Fred Todd sat there, rubbing the bowl of his jfipe against his palm and wondering what the old fraud meant by that promise of an “earful.” But it didn't come out immediately after Fred entered Professor Mike’s dingy office in the Mechanical Arts Building.
Professor Mike was already out of his tight “faculty” shex’s and scuffing into a pair of elastic-sided foundryworker’s boots when Fred picked up the old man’s black gown from the lloor and hung it on a spike in the wall. Through the ojx*n door came a draught from down the long halls leading to the various mechanical arts laboratories the pattern shop, the forge, the foundryand where for the last two years Fred Todd had been a paid assistant instructor, the machine shop, with its dean-swept maple (loor and row after row of lathes, milling machines, metal planers, gear-cutting machines and drill presses. The draught from the hall rumpled Professor Mike's thin white thatch and brought the pungent smells of machine oil and the dead fires of the forge shop.
“Little present for you, Fred,” said Professor Mike, nudging with his elbow a flat leather case to the edge of his desk, where it would have fallen to the floor if younger hands hadn’t reached out quickly to catch it.
"pRED knew what was in that leather case without ojxm-
ing it. At least once a year he had seen Professor Mike open it at the beginning of his two-hour lecture on precision instruments of measurement, and had listened to an everfresh story to him of the great John Waters and his genius for making the finest micrometers in the world.
With an uncertain movement. Fred tried to return the leather case containing the prized micrometer safely back on the desk. But Professor Mike nudged it away with his elbow again. "Yours; keep it and try to live up to it." grunted the old man crossly.
"But. professor . . ’’ Fred swallowed and commenced all over again: "The lecture will never sound the same
again if you give me ’’
“Done lecturing,” grunted Professor Mike. "Trustees
have rewarded my forty years of trying to teach young devils with class politics and the-girl-wearing-their-frat-pin on the brain, the elements of the mechanical arts. Hanson takes over next fall. I’m going for a tour of the world’s finest machine shops.”
All Fred could say was a thicktongued, "Thank you. sir. It’s a wonderful present. Appropriate, if you understand what I mean.”
Professor Mike blinked owlishly. “I don’t, but I’m beginning to have my suspicions. Why the devil did you tum down that offer Mr. Chandler made you? Don’t you know I’ve been answering letters about you for three months from the Chandler Precision Instrument Company?”
The leather case in Fred’s hands suddenly became heavy. He kept his eyes downcast on the gilt lettering. "John Waters — Precision Instruments,” now only faintly discernible on tlie scarred case.
“I’ve made other plans. Professor Mike.” he finally said, looking up and smiling apologetically.
“Umn !” A lean finger circled the old man’s leathery chin, and bright eyes searched Fred's ruthlessly. "Still stiffnecked as ever; won’t let anybody help paddle your eanx\ eh? Well, who grabbed you?”
Fred fumbled with the micrometer case in his hands and inadvertently pressed the release button. The lid flew open, and the John Waters micrometer, unblemished as the day John Waters had presented it to Professor Gilroy, drew the eyes of both men.
"I’m going to work for him—John Waters,” said Fred without daring to look up,
“I'll bet my shirt you don't,” retorted Professor Mike instantly. “And 1 '11 throw in my watch if you've had so much as a letter in reply to your application for a job from John. Is that a bet?”
Fred shook his head but smiled confidently. "Just the same. I'm going to work for John Waters.”
“That’s what you say.” Professor Mike broke off an inch from a dry cigar and shoved it well back in one cheek, and motioned for Fred to kick the wastebasket within closer range. “A lot of cocky young fellows*have had the
sanu* idea before you. Up! But you can count on your two hands the ones who made the riftie.”
!■ red grinned openly. "That's just why I’ve made up my mind to lxthe next John W aters man. I’ve heard you say more than once that four years under him gives a man a first mortgage on any manufacturing job he cares to pick after that.”
“Except a job already being held down by another John Waters man,” corrected Professor Mike tartly. “But you’re welcome to the joelt if you can catch your tiger. And give John my best if you’re still on deck that far along in the riot.”
The bony hand flapping a curt dismissal got trapped in I*red’s. “Thanks for this swell present, Professor Mike. And —well, I can’t leave without telling you I wouldn’t’ve stuck it out these last two tough years but for the way you — I mean they don’t come any better than you are, sir!” Professor Mike Gilroy took sudden aim at his wastebasket. “Up! Cut out the blarney. Didn’t mean that, dammit. Meant to say you’re going places.” A suppressed twinkle lurked in the grey eyes fixed on Fred. “But you’ll get a lot farther a lot quicker if you can keep the boneheads from suspecting you know you’re smarter than they are. G’by.”
rT"'HE SHORT cut back to his attic room at Mrs. Cleary’s h‘d Fred down Fraternity Row. The houses had already taken on a deserted look, save for a senior’s trunk here and there on the porch awaiting the express van. Passing Gamma House, he tossed a salute at Buck Martin, senior class president, lugging the last of his bags out to a big sedan parked at the curb.
"Hey, Fred, come over! Want you to meet the folks. Mother and dad, this is the shining scholastic star of the day—Fred Todd. But don’t make any passes, dad; Fred’s already got more jobs to choose from than you’ve got vice-presidents.”
Mr. Martin, senior, extended an affable hand. “Glad to make your acquaintance, young man. The proctor was bragging pretty high about your record at luncheon. I didn’t get to ask—are you Chester Todd’s son. of Todd Construction?”
“I’m afraid not,” answered Fred, trying to smile carelessly.
Mr. Martin, senior, motioned toward his car. “Hop in and we’ll drive you around to your house. I’d like to make the acquaintance of the father of a son like you—” He broke off abruptly on catching a warning frown from his son. He flushed and stammered, “Sorry, my boy.”
“It’s quite all right, sir,” Fred hastened to say. “He was killed in a coal-mine accident before I was old enough to understand what happened.”
“Climbed right to the top of your class, strictly on your own, eh?” Mr. Martin, senior, glanced meaningly at his son and back to Fred. “No use wishing your kind the breaks; you’ll make your own.”
Something in Mr. Martin’s last firm hand clasp and his crisp nod stayed with Fred all during the long bus ride to Bayview, where John Waters’ precision laboratory was located. Yes, that was the way a man got ahead—by locking his teeth onto a purpose and hanging on till he won out. Make your own breaks . . .
“Bayview, your ticket said, didn’t it?” asked the bus driver over his shoulder as the long bus came to a stop. “This is it, brother.”
Fred carried his suitcase and kit of machinist’s tools into the bus station, and pushed them through the wire opening of the baggage-checking cage.
“I’ll be closing right after the four o’clock leaves for Thompsonville,” warned the station agent, handing Fred his claim checks. “And this is a dead burg to get stuck in over night, if you ask me.”
“Where’s the John Waters factory?” asked Fred.
The station agent shook his head glumly. “Been here
six months, but anything like a factory in this town is news to me. Nothing here but a one-horse machine shop, run by an old galoot these towners call ’Uncle John.’ His place is back of the hardware store.”
Fred waited until he was out on the street again before taking the micrometer case from his pocket and looking at the tarnished gilt lettering stamped on the lid. It was the right town, all right. Funny, though, that a man as famous as John Waters wasn’t known in his home town.
He had almost walked the full length of the short business street, looking for the hardware store the bus agent had spoken of, when he came to a sudden halt in front of a store window. There, in the window, leaning against a can of house paint, was a brightly polished brass sign reading: “This is the original sales agency for the John Waters micrometer.”
On the right track at last. Fred yanked hard at the screen door, but it failed to yield. He gave a second yank and entered the establishment. Down at the heel like all the rest of the town, was his opinion after a quick glance; stock on the upper shelves in fly-specked boxes that looked like they hadn’t been touched since the last January inventory. But in the small showcase next to the door lay a solitary tool on a bit of dark blue velvet. Back of it, in plain sight, was a fresh white card: “Number One John Waters Micrometer. Not for Sale.”
“Sorry you had so much trouble breaking in,” said a voice. “It rained this morning, you know.”
FRED lifted his eyes from the showcase and felt them collide pleasantly with the half-smiling brown ones of a girl. She wore a print smock and her sleeves were protected by wrapping-paper cuff's. Her head was tilted just enough to one side so that the light from a small window above her touched with copper her loosely combed hair.
He was still admiring the halo effect when the girl spoke again. “It’s too early for the shore people to be arriving
for the summer season, so you must be selling something.” “That would make me an optimist, wouldn’t it?” he countered. “Would you mind turning your head just a little. The light is much better to the left.”
“Oh. then you paint.” With a tight smile under control, the girl reached behind her and laid a large whitewash brush on the counter. “We have a social on these nice wide brushes at one forty-nine this week. And a very good quality cold-water mixture at twenty cents a jx)und. The shore people all have their fences done with it.”
Fred smiled unsuccessfully. “I stuck my neck out for that one. Sorry. Now how about being kind to a stranger and telling me where I can find Mr. John Waters?”
She shook her head. “I'm afraid vou’d be just wasting your time and Uncle John’s patience. He never sees salesmen unless he writes and asks them to call.”
“What tickets me as a salesman?” asked Fred, leaning one elbow on the counter.
The girl studied him coolly for a moment. “Maybe you’re not a salesman,” she conceded. “Maybe you’re just practicing being fresh in hopes of becoming one.”
Fred was still blinking and speechless when the screen door behind him squeaked resistantly. With a little gasp of dismay, the girl darted from behind the counter and ran to the door.
“Just a minute, Mr. McHenry,” she called. “I’ll open it for you.”
“Too late,” snapped an irritated voice outside. “I was fixing to come in for a quart of paint. But I reckon I ’ll get it
at the drugstore, where they don’t keep the dx)r nailed shut.”
Fred turned just in time to see the girl’s shoulders sag in discouragement. Without comment, he reached across the counter and took a wood plane off the back shelf.
“Get me a box or something to stand on, and I’ll get that door working in no time.” he said.
“Not that one.” The girl took the plane from him and put it back on the shelf, reaching under the counter and bringing back an antique jack plane and a rusty screw driver. “If a customer saw you using one of our planes from stock, it would be all over town we were selling second-hand tools for new.”
Frowning dubiously at the old-fashioned wood plane. Fred tested the cutting edge with his thumb. “Iley, why didn’t you tell me this thing was sharp? Nearly sliced off the most useful part of a litiger.”
The girl straightened up. panting from pushing a large box aside, and brushed back the lock straying over her right eye. “It’s the system we use. Grandfather Horace loans the plane to the lx.ys when they want to build a boat, providing of course they buy their nails here.
“You’ve got queer kids in this town if they bring back tools in this shape,” Fred remarked sceptically.
“Oh, that’s the third blade Uncle John has made for it,” she said, nodding brightly to the plane, now lying on a box while Fred was taking the screen dmr from its hinges.
“Uncle John?” repeated Fred over his shoulder. “You mean the same old crab you were just now warning me about not bothering during business hours?”
I le dismounted the screen dxr and braced it edgewise on the Hoor, and ran the old-fashioned plane down the length of it.
“You make a nice even chip.” commented the girl, nodding her approval.
FRED squinted sharply along his work and said, “I don’t know how it is in this country but other places people have names. What’s yours?”
“Mollie Mollie Tyler. But I shan’t tell you until you tell yours.” She turned her chin away, suppressing a smile that Fred caught as he lifted his eyes for a second plane stroke down the screen door. “But please pick just one; I’m not gxxl at remembering too many aliases.”
He glanced at her sharply and saw she was smiling at the under side of the brim of his hat, lying on the counter with the names of a dozen or more of his classmates displayed in various styles of hand lettering.
“Look inside the crown—nearest the brains.” he suggested, and made another nice even chip with his plane. “That’ll be mine.”
“Fred Todd,” mused Mollie, peering into the hat, “Midwest University, class of—”
“Gimme that thing,” demanded Fred, snatching his hat and jamming it on the back of his head.
He finished planing down the screen dxr, and then demanded varnish or shellac with which to seal the raw edge. “If we don’t,” he warned, “it’ll swell and stick as bad as ever, the next time it rains."
Instead, she brought him a dusty lump of beeswax. “Grandfather Horace was going to use this when he got around to fixing it,” she explained. “The varnish is to sell to customers who fix their own screen d(xrs.”
“Been hearing a lot about Grandfather Horace,” Fred found occasion to remark as he fitted the door back on its hinges and tested it to his satisfaction. “Judging from appearances, he’s as exclusive as Uncle John.”
Fred dumped the old plane down on the counter, and was stabbing an arm back into his coat sleeve when Mollie Tyler said hesitantly, “I forgot to thank you. It’s tremendously important not to have your screen door sticking and making your customers cross. Is—is there anv charge, Mr. Todd?”
F'red’s eyes wandered to the slow-ticking clock up near the front window. “Eleven already?” He patted the side pocket where he kept his John Waters micrometer in its case and straightened his hat, then turned toward Mollie. “Now look what you’ve done. Kept me gabbing here almost up to lunch time. Don’t you know a hungry7 man will always say ‘no’ to any proposition he can’t eat?”
“You’re not very clear.” was Mollie’s artificially puzzled comment. “But I suppose you’re thinking about Uncle John and something you wanted to sell him, terribly.”
"Right,” nodded Fred. “I intend to sell him the idea of taking me on at his factory or laboratory, or whatever you call it. Professor Mike says . . .” P'or almost fifteen breathless minutes. Fred Todd poured into her patiently attentive ears the high lights of his ambition to serve an apprenticeship under John Waters. “You see,” he went on. breathless in his enthusiasm, “after four years under him, I can walk into any big plant in the country and write my own salary ticket. Bing, just like that ! I ’ll start knocking down more money a week than my old classmates are making a month.”
“Oh, I see.” mused Mollie unsmilingly. She glanced up at the clock, adding, “I must lock up now and get Uncle John’s lunch basket ready. Thank you for fixing the screen door. Mr. Todd.”
"Dx)k here.” demanded P'red defensively. “What have I said that puts me in the doghouse like this?”
She met his eyes frankly. “Do you really wish to know?”
He nodded, sincerely in earnest. “I’ve been up against the cold truth since 1 was a shaver in knee pants. Shoot the works.”
“Uncle John,” began Mollie Tyler, “is almost as old as Grandfather Horace—past seventy now. All his life he has been searching for a man he could train to camon his work after he’s gone. Sooner or
later some big factory took them away. Uncle John says he can’t blame a man for bettering himself financially.”
“I don’t get the angle,” objected Fred, puzzled. “That’s what we’re all after, isn’t it—the money, a big job, being important somebodies?”
“I’m afraid you’re right,” admitted Mollie, dropping her eyes. She unpinned her wrapping-paper cuffs and laid them carefully on the back shelf. “But it isn’t fair! It isn’t fair for you young men to take everything from Uncle John and then —then leave!”
"CRED still didn’t understand fully, even
when he had turned the corner past the Tyler hardware store and found himself standing in the open doorway of a small stone building, set well back on the end of a deep lot. The hardwood floor was clean swept, and grouped here and there about the single large room were machines that sparkled as brightly as though brandnew.
At a neatly arranged bench before an open window, he could see a sparse white thatch of hair and a silvery beard bowed over a vise. Lean delicate hands of an artist were guiding a file across a bit of metal.
John Waters’ breath was coming in short energetic gasps, as with slightly bent knees he shaded his eyes and sighted along the edge of his work. Then with a brisk tap of his file on a block of hardwood, he commenced filing again.
“Well, young man, what’s your business?" asked John Waters without missing a file stroke.
Feeling quite sure, up to that time, that he hadn’t been noticed, Fred was caught unawares.
“It’s almost quitting time for lunch,” he heard himself stammering. “Maybe I’d better come back later.”
“It’s still daylight, isn’t it?” grunted John Waters, rapping his file sharply and continuing without breaking the rhythm of his hands. “Long as it’s daylight a man should keep his hands going. And don’t start telling me. like my niece, Mollie, that it’s bad for my digestion to eat and work at the same time. Exploded that theory sixty years ago! Got anything important on your mind, or are you looking for a cool place to loaf?”
Fred’s ears were commencing to feel warm. “I've written you three letters since January7,” he said. “And I've ridden seven hundred miles on a bus for an answer.” John Waters’ file missed a stroke and remained suspended in mid-air. “You’ve come seven hundred miles, eh? Calculated your getting an answer was that important?” Keen grey eyes studied Fred intently. “Umn! You must be that young college student that was so dead set 1 couldn’t do without him. Well, you’re wasting your time and money, bub. Never had time to break in green boys and teach ’em the machinist trade. Always picked bright young toolmakers.”
With another impatient rap of his file, John Waters resumed work, clearly indicating by his tight-lipped concentration that the interview had come to an end.
“I'm a toolmaker.” stated Fred flatly. “For the last two years at Midwest, I earned my way as assistant machine-shop instructor for Professor Gilroy.”
Slowly, John Waters laid aside his file. “Y’ou can stay,” he grunted, motioning for Fred to step closer. “So you’re one of Mike Gilroy’s boys, eh? Umn—packed full of his crazy theories about switching the country from measuring in inches to that Frenchified metric system, I’ll warrant.” John Waters picked up his file again, scowled at it and laid it aside. lie darted a testy look at Fred. “Go on. Tell me all about yourself. That’s what you came for, wasn’t it? And remember you can’t stuff me with fool’s pudding any easier than Mike Gilroy would swallow it.”
Nettled by the challenge, Fred recited nothing but bare facts, letting the usual arguments he employed in landing a toolmaking job during summer vacations go hang. “And last summer I was squad leader of a gang of toolmakers at Differential Gear and Axle,” he added, bringing his experience up to date. “We built a special machine for measuring tooth-spacing of that new hypoid gear-drive unit of theirs.” A twitching white eyebrow was the only indication that John Waters was impressed in the least. With deliberate fingers, he selected a small drawing from a pigeonhole over his work bench, and commenced searching for something in one of the bench drawers. Finally he drew out a halffinished small steel shaft and set it down with an emphatic thump on the drawing.
“Mind,” he warned, frowning at his visitor, “I’m not even half promising to take you on. Fact is, I've quit bothering with teaching men how to make John Waters micrometers. The smart ones get big jobs with my customers, and the fools I kick out. Umn! Said you were a toolmaker, eh? Well, finish this piece I’ve started. Here’s the drawing, and where I •pecify a measurement in tenths of a thousandth, I wasn’t fooling when I put it down that way.”
Fred picked up the drawing and the unfinished part and started for a lathe, but John Waters called him back. “Micrometers are in the glass case the other side of the milling machine. And don’t be using ’em as C-clamps.”
TD UT AS soon as the old man’s back was turned, Fred walked straight to the lathe he had picked out as suitable for the work. He spent some time, measuring with the micrometer Professor Gilroy had given
him the work which John Waters had already done on the piece. He measured one dimension the second time, referring again to the drawing to make sure he read the dimension on it correctly, and then tested the part again with his micrometer.
For the next half hour, Fred was so busy concentrating on doing his best example of tool-making that he almost failed to notice a sandwich and a piece of pie wrapped in tissue paper that had been laid on the tool stand beside his lathe. He looked up just in time to see Mollie Tyler’s brown hair burst into copper flame before she stepped through the shop door into the sunlight outside.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw old John Waters cast a furtive glance at Mollie Tyler’s back and then stealthily get up from the stool on which he had been sitting with a napkin across his lap. The old man rubbed his fingers on a wiping cloth and picked up his file.
Fred chuckled to himself while he tested the piece in his lathe for the last time liefore taking it out. Right, to the tenth of a thousandth, said the John Waters micrometer Professor Mike had given him.
Out came the piece. He laid it confidently on the bench at John Waters’ elbow. “Finished,” he announced, and waited in silence.
“Sure about that?” grunted John Waters, taking a micrometer from the pocket of his white canvas apron and refreshing his memory with a glance at the drawing. “Umn! Fair down at this end. Yes, a mite better than fair. Finish not bad either for tough nickel steel.” Dimension by dimension, he checked carefully. “Whoa-up! Something wrong here, bub.”
“You mean, on the one point seven-fournine dimension?” asked Fred, making a determined effort to hide a growing smile.
Old John Waters tossed the part into a scrap box under the bench. “Should have known better and finished that myself,” he grunted and turned to pick up his file.
Down went Fred Todd on his knees. I íe dug the discarded piece from the scrap lx>x and banged it down on the drawing. “What’s wrong with it?” he demanded heatedly. “You said to finish the piece according to drawing, didn’t you? Well, show me where a dimension is off more than a tenth and I’ll eat the darn thing.”
“It’s wrong where you took a cut off the dimension I worked on,” insisted John Waters stubbornly.
“Sure I did,” snapped Fred, ears scarlet. “You made a bull yourself—read your mikes one turn of the barrel too big twenty-five thousandths large. I turned it down to what the drawing calls for.”
“I said it’s spoiled, and that’s the end of it,” grunted John Waters crossly. “You’re in my light. Stand aside.”
Boiling with rage, Fred Todd snatched up his hat and strode out. The next bus out of Bayview would find him on it. and the sooner the better. A down-at-the-heel town was right, and full of cranky old galoots in the bargain.
VATIIEN HE reached the tiny busYV ticket office, the door was locked. On the blind-cord dangled a scrawled note: “Gone to a funeral.”
Fred rattled the door again before turning up the street to the drugstore.
“Hey, where’s the funeral in town?” he called back to the florid face that appeared around the end of the prescription partition.
“None of your wisecracks, young fellow,” he got back testily. “We don’t sell that kind of medicine in here.”
The head disapiieared back of the partition again. Fred glanced at the clock over the cigar counter. It was after one. Four, the agent had said, was the last bus through Bayview for the day. It became the most important thing in Fred’s life to get his baggage out of that locked check room and board that last bus.
His approach to the filling-station owner on the opposite corner was still somewhat breathless but at least a little more diplomatic. “My bags are locked up in the bus station. There’s a sign on the window saying the agent has gone to a funeral. Could you tell me where? I've got to hunt him upy to make that four o’clock.”
The filling-station owner looked Fred over cautiously. “Fish trout any?”
Fred returned a puzzled stare. “No. Been too busy all my life to waste time lugging a fish prole and a can of worms around.”
The air of suspicion about the fillingstation owner relaxed. “Trout fishermen don’t always say what they’re thinking,” he informed Fred with a confidential nod. “Clyde—that’s the ticket agent—has gone for square-tails, most likely—trout. Seeing old Horace Tyler come sneaking in about noon with a heavy creel give Clyde the fever bad.”
“Would it be far?” asked Fred anxiously. “I’ve got to find him and get my bags.” “It wouldn’t be far.” admitted the fillingstation owner guardedly. “But I wouldn’t risk being called a liar by saying it was anywhere near the direction old Horace came into town from. You might enquire down to Tyler’s hardware store.”
Off Fred hurried, feeling confident that at least one pierson in Bayview would quit treating him as if he was [Manning to rob the bank, and answer a civil question with a direct answer. The screen door he had repaired for Mollie came open soundlessly. He stepped into the cool interior and looked around.
Back of the counter, ramrod straight but slightly paunchy under a greenish alpaca coat, stood an old man peering at him over the rims of steel spectacles.
“Is—” Fred checked himself quickly. “Are you Mr. Horace Tyler?”
“The advantage is all yours, sir,” he received with an old-fashioned bow.
Fred piassed his handkerchief around the band of his hat and grinned limply. “I'm off on the wrong foot again. What I came for was to ask where you were trout fishing this morning.”
His question was met by bland but stony silence.
“I mean,” he added hastily, “I'm a stranger in town. My bags are locked up at the bus station. Got to catch the four o’clock, but they tell me the ticket agent saw you come in with a lot of fish—”
“The dawn is breaking,” remarked old Horace Tyler, smiling gently but not without a hint of guile in his manner. “Clyde has been spying on me and deserts his public in quest of . . . Young man, have you ever fished trout?”
“G(X)d grief, no!” exploded Fred.
“Have you a car; or do you piropxise to employ Shanks’s mare?” enquired old Horace blandly. “Walking? Good. Battle Creek, just above the red bridge, is where you may find your man. May. understand; there is no accounting for the vagaries of a trout fisherman. 'Fake the west road out of town, about a mile. Turn off through the pasture with the red bull in it. But keep your eye on him. ”
“How far?” asked Fred, impatiently glancing at the clock.
“Oh. forty minutes each way, if you hurry,” he was informed. “You’ll find the stream just over the brow of the first rise in the hull pasture. And if your luck holds, young man. you may wangle a ride back, out of the estimable Clyde.”
“Thank you, sir.” said Fred, and started out.
T-JTF FOUND the bull pasture without -*■ *■ much difficulty, and the big red bull resting in the shade of an oak close to the fence. Fred walked on another eighth of a mile and started to climb over the fence, only to see the bull staring with distended nostrils not a hundred feet away. He walked on a considerable distance to another fence limiting the beast’s range and climbed over.
For the next hour, he pushed his way through birch thickets in search of Battle Creek. At last he stcxxl at the edge of a thin trickle of crystal clear water. There wasn't a human foot track anywhere along the bank. He tried calling, "Hey, Clyde!”
at the topi of his voice, without getting any answer.
Finally he gave up and struggled back through the birch thickets to the road, just in time to step back hurriedly as the four o’clock bus roared by on its way from Bayview.
He was looking down at his mudspattered shoes and the rent in his trousers when the feeble squawk of an out-of-date automobile horn sounded insistently behind him.
“Oh, it’s you finally,” said a relieved voice from under the patched touring-car top. Mollie Tyler thumped energetically against the car dcxir and managed to get it opten. “I’ve been up and down every back road in the township looking for you.”
Fred climbed in and slumpted down on the lumpty cushion, mopping his face in disgust. “This is a swell p)art of the country to leave as a forwarding address,” he announced emphatically.
Mollie Tyler wasn’t smiling when her eyes found his. “I’m apxMogizing for the family,” she said. “Particularly for Grandfather Horace sending you off on a snipx; hunt.”
“I’m beginning to get wise,” grunted Fred, slumping still farther into his seat. “We used to send freshmen on snipx; hunts —at night with a sack.”
“Grandfather Horace takes fearful chances with the truth when it comes to telling where he catches trout,” went on Mollie serenely. “I'm terribly sorry. If you had waited at the store just another minute I might have saved you all this. As it was, I caught him laughing to himself about it. I started just as soon as I wormed the truth out of him.”
“Thanks,” muttered Fred, his chin pressed against his limp shirt. “The next time you catch me in Bayview, I’ll bring a lie detector and a guardian.” Suddenly he began pawing through his [rockets. “Hey turn this crate around. I’ve lost something. My—my micrometer Professor
Mike gave me.” He groaned in tired misery. “It’s back along that infernal creek some prlace. Turn around, I said.”
A faint but stubborn smile tugged at one corner of Mollie Tyler’s mouth. She drove on, eyes straight ahead without slacking speed.
“Here’s a lane where we can turn,” said Fred. “Darn it, didn’t you hear?”
“Your micrometer is back in Uncle John’s shop, where you left it,” she informed him sweetly. “Uncle John came to the store to find you and return it.”
“I got a picture of that old—”
Fred’s grumble was cut off by Mollie saying quietly, “Don’t you think a lot of your trouble is your—well, you have got an abrupt manner, you know. People in big cities are used to being barked at everybody in a hurry and trying to save time. But in a little place like Bayview, there’s time to think how it’s going to sound before you say it.”
“Are you sure I left my micrometer at your Uncle John’s?” Fred insisted.
Mollie frowned and wrinkled her nose at him. “You weren’t paying any attention to my scolding, were you? That micrometer must lx? a terribly impxirtant thing, if both you and Uncle John are so excited about it.”
By that time, the old touring car had trundled to a stop) in front of John Waters’ stone shop building.
“Why would he care a hoot?” Fred asked, thumpMng at the dcx>r to opx?n it. Her eyes met his gravely, after he had climbed out and was standing looking at her with his hat in his hand.
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“Uncle John can explain that much better than I,” she said simply. “I’ll wait.”
"PKED’S second view of John Waters’ -L clean-swept work floor and the groups of sparkling machines gave him even more of an inward lift than the first time. He knew now that the small lathe, there by the wide north window, was the most accurate machine he had ever had the joy of running.
But this time John Waters was coming to him across the shop, carrying in his hands, as if it were a jewel case, the scuffed and scarred leather box containing the micrometer Professor Gilroy had given Fred.
“You left in sort of a humand forgot your micrometer.” P'red noticed that the old master instrument-maker did not refer to the measuring tool in his thin hands in machine-shop slang as a “mike.” John Waters touched the release spring and raised the lid with a look of deep pride for the small bit of polished steel and its cleancut graduation lines, before adding soberly : “It’s been twenty years coming back to me, son. Did Mike Gilroy tell you its story?”
“Yes, a dozen times at least,” answered Fred, trying to think just how to frame an apology for his former rudeness to this master craftsman. “I guess I lost my temper this afternoon. I’m sorry—”
John Waters dismissed the apology, with the flap of a lean wrist, as a dead and buried incident. His lips were smiling behind his soft white beard when he raised his eyes and shook his head. “The real story—don’t think you’ve heard it, son. Least, I’ve sized you up all wrong if you have.” An eager intentness displaced the more gentle look in his eyes as a forefinger tapped the micrometer. “I gave this to Mike Gilroy twenty years agothe time I was just beginning to know a man past fifty wasn’t going to keep on going forever.”
Old John Waters closed the case with a snap and handed back P'red’s property. “You wouldn’t be having it unless he thought well of you, son.” Old fingers dipped into the pocket of a white canvas apron and came out with the small multiple-diameter shaft which P'red had turned in the lathe. “Take this along too. I was mistaken; meant to change the figures on the drawing and didn’t, I reckon. It’s got my ‘J. W.’ stamped on it, same as I’ve done for every man I’ve tested out and found he was a bang-up mechanic. There’s just an even dozen of ’em kicking around the world with my boys.”
As P'red took the piece in his hands and looked at the famous proof mark that set aside a product of John Waters’ tool laboratory from all other things, he felt his throat tighten too much to say anything but a gruff, “A million dollars couldn’t buy this from me, sir.”
“Like it was only yesterday, I remember,” went on John Waters, ignoring P'red’s confusion. “I gave that micrometer to Mike Gilroy and said ‘Mike, there’s just the bare chance a boy will come to your college some day that’s as cocksure of himself, once he knows he’s right, as I am.”
P'red’s eyes snapped up. “You mean, you started then looking for a man to train and carry on your work, after—?”
“Yes, after John Waters is dead.” A smile sparkled in grave old eyes. “Don’t lie to me. son. Has Mike broken his promise and told you about this before he sent you to me for testing?”
TIRED'S chin moved out. but he checked -L his aggressiveness and shook his head, smiling too. “Professor Mike never broke his word in his life. I said I’d heard the story a dozen times—sure. But it was all about John Waters being the greatest instrument-making genius that ever lived. Yes, and about being such a crank about the accuracy of the micrometers turned out of his labora ton' that he wouldn’t trust more than one or two other men at a time to help make them.”
Old John Waters’ gaze drifted toward the view from his work-bench window — Mollie Tyler at the wheel of an out-of-date touring car with a patched top. “Guess that’s all, son. Good-by and good luck."
For a sinking moment, Fred watched the old master craftsman turn back to his bench and pick up his file. P'red walked to the door, holding his micrometer case clamped under his arm and looking at the small “J.W.” stamped on the bit of polished steel in his fingers.
At the door he stopped and took a deep breath. “I’ll be back in the morning--with my tool kit. Is that all right, sir?”
The file rapped smartly on a hardwood block. Peering over the rims of his rusty steel spectacles, old John Waters said: “You’ll find the door key in the morning under the brick beside the door stone. I'll expect the floor to be swept when I get here at seven, young fellow.”
Fred walked out to the car, whistling softly to himself.
“To the bus station, I suppose, for your things?” said Mollie, pushing down on the starter button but getting no response.
“Un-hunh,” answered Fred, taking more interest in the balky starter than the question.
“I’ll drive you to Thompsonville, if you’re still going to catch a bus west.”
But Fred was out of the car again. He lifted the engine hcxxl and worked with the wiring of the starter. “Step on it again.” he ordered.
The engine started with a noisy clatter of lcx)se tappets. Fred climbed back in and waved Mollie on.
“P'irst Saturday afterncxm off I’ll make a new car out of this museum piece,” he promised vaguely.
‘‘It isn’t mine; it’s Grandfather Horace’s,” she informed him experimentally. Mollie tossed her head and allowed the breeze coming through the broken place in the windshield to send little ripples through her hair. “And he’s terrible sorry about those awful fibs he told you. He promised to let you use his second-best fly rod and show you where he catches his trout.”
Fred grunted not too enthusiastically and stooped to replace the iron cover of the spark coils that was jiggling around on the bare ilcxir boards. He looked up just when the car jerked to a stop in front of a rambling stone cottage. “Nice place you got,” he commented.
Mollie sh(x>k her head. “Mrs. Kitchen lives here. And if she sees you wipe your feet on the dxr mat, she’ll let you have her front room for five less on the month than she charges the summer shore people.”
He felt the close-clipped grass between the scattered flagstones yield to his step as he walked to the white door with its jxilished brass knocker sparkling in the late afternoon sun. And even without bothering to remember Mollie’s pointed hint, it seemed the most natural thing in the world to wipe his feet on the stiff cocoa mat placed squarely in the centre of the scrubbed door stone.
Before lifting the knocker, he looked back. Mollie was still waiting and nodding her unreserved approval. into units for transportation purposes, and to form a sort of transportation society which would have as its primary objective the driving of workingmen to and from work between Rossland and Warfield and Tadanac.
The men who conceived the idea of the co-operative society in its first form— Mayor J. E. Gordon, A. L. Johnson, and two others — contributed the original capital of $50. As the organization became more complete, each shift had a director of the Society in charge, this man being a shareholder to the extent of at least $5, and the capital was used to purchase a low-priced car.
The original board of directors, named at a general meeting held in May, 1932, were:
J. W. Aitken, A. L. Johnson, IT. C. Marsters, W. J. Brown, J. E. Dupperson, A. E. Walters, S. H. Hayden, L. Johnson, A. Littley, R. H. Mason, H. O. Fluery, and J. K. Ross.
By the end of July. 1932, scarcely three months after its formation, the Society had a membership of forty-odd men, thus forcing the directors to purchase their second air.
With Society fees set at thirty cents per day, as against the higher fare of the bus line, the latter’s business went into a decline. Eventually their franchise for the bus line from Trail to Rossland, which did not include the side line to Tadanac and Warfield was bought by the Greyhound Bus Lines, which now operate the line on essentially the same schedule with no change in prices of transportation.
The reduction in transportation fees, coupled with a dependable service for all shifts, contributed to the permanency of the movement, with the result that the Society was swamped with applications for membership.
This necessitated additional cars, which in turn brought about an acute garaging problem. This was solved when a site was purchased from the city upon favorable terms.
The Society could not afford to employ professional labor, so members undertook to construct the 50 x 60 foot garage in their spare time, under supervision of a paid carpenter.
Construction was completed in September, 1932, then a contract was made for the purchase of automotive supplies on a wholesale basis, and a gasoline pump was installed.
With this evidence of permanency, more and more men took up residence in Rossland. By the end of the month some 100 members were registered, and in December three more cars were added to the fleet, making a total of seven.
I Hiring 1933, three more cars were added, while the membership climbed to more than 200. The garage had to be enlarged to 75 x 50 feet, the work being paid for within a year.
As a result of this establishment of adequate transportation service, new commercial enterprises opened in Rossland; while at the same time many workmen. realizing the advantages of being able to live in Rossland and work in Warfield and Tadanac. built their homes in the city, thus bringing about a general up-trend in economic conditions.
The Consolidated Mining and Smelting Co. also recognized the situation by making long-term loans to their workmen who wished to build homes in Rossland.
Again the garage became inadequate for the rapidly increasing business, so the Society purchased a new site on a prominent corner ujxtn which a suitable structure had already been erected, members pledging themselves to pay the purchase price of SIOJXX) with an assessment of five cents ¡xr day.
With the opening of the new premises, the organization also opened a retail automobile accessory department, in addition
to the general repair shop. The Society also obtained the local agency for two popular cars, and enlarged the staff to six full-time men, including two mechanics.
By August, 1934. the fleet had grown to seventeen cars, carrying 350 men to and from work on the various shifts, while the accessory department had developed into Big Business. At this time members also completed paying off their financial obligations, leaving the Society unencumbered.
Members are also enabled to purchase a share of Society stock through an assessment of five cents per day, making a total of thirty-five cents per day for transportation and a share in the Society, the latter being paid for over a period of two years.
The Society’s policy of continually replacing old fleet units with new cars became a source of additional income, for, after an exhaustive overhaul, the older models were sold on a strict guarantee basis. So successful has this service been that many of the earlier cars are still giving first-class service in private use.
This policy, in common with those of the other departments, is one of the reasons why the organization has an annual turnover of $100,(XX).
TN MARCH, 1937, the Rossland Co-
Operative Transportation Society purchased a fleet of ten new seven-passenger cars, all of which, among other innovations, had mountain gears installed for work on the long hill between Rossland and Warfield and Tadanac.
The drivers are specially trained men with first-aid qualifications, in addition to which the Society carries full coverage in all types of insurance, including public liability.
Since its formation, cars of the Rossland Co-Operative Transportation Society have travelled over a million miles up and down the tortuous highway without a serious accident, each car carrying fifty-four men XT day.
As an indication of how the Rossland Co-Operative Society effected the complete economic recovery of Rossland during 1937, the taxes are more than ninety-five per cent paid up. city salary cuts have been restored, extensive civic improvements have been carried out; while during the first six months of 1937 the value of new buildings exceeded $82,000, as compared with $43,000 for the whole of 1936.
This story of a modern co-operative movement shows that, under unfavorable conditions, even though faced with stern competition, such a movement can be made profitable, not only to itself but to the community in which it does business.
Controlling Weed Growth
SULPHURIC acid spray as a method of controlling the growth of weeds in fields of grain is gaining ground in the United States. Tests covering several years and several thousand acres of grain fields in California have demonstrated the effectiveness of this method. During the present season more than 6.(XX) acres are being kept free from weeds by spraying with solutions of sulphuric acid which kill weeds but do not injure the growing grain.
This is a meagre beginning when in California alone there are more than half a million acres that could be benefitted and when the vast grain fields of the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest have not yet been touched. In France the treatment is already applied to more than 5(X),000 acres, and its use is growing in England and on the Continent. The California development includes testing new, more efficient type's of sprayers to cover larger areas more effectively.—Scientific American.