‘Twas only a kit of carpenter’s tools
We were chancing off that night.
The man who owned the tools was there
A carpenter whose hair was white.
To draw the stubs until the winning share
Would place the tools within another’s care.
Aye! Only a kit of tools you say
Objects of metal hard and bright.
No! We chanced off something else that day
Something that didn’t seem just right.
All the labor of yesteryear.
Homes that they built for those in the past
Of service come to an end at last.
Leaving his heart, his head, his hand
In a chest of tools, this white-haired man.
To end his days in a home for them
Whose years of service were at an end.
The sad look on that aged face
As each number shortened the space.
Of time when he must bid farewell for good
To old friends of his, of metal and wood.
He had used them for years, they were always there.
‘Twas awfully sad, the whole affair.
Like playing pitch with an old man’s soul.
Pushing him on to the final goal.
Into the sidelines and out of the race
While a younger man takes up his place.
The tools of his trade, the hammer and saw
It struck me with wonder and something of awe.
As we laughingly shout and loudly cry
To see who the winning share did buy.
How stupid of us, we were such fools
To think we were chancing off
Only CARPENTER’S TOOLS
Originally appeared in Carpenter Magazine many years ago. It’s a monthly publication published by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. It contains articles on labor issues, lessons on how to build things, and “human interest items” submitted by the local union secretaries.
Bob Smalser kindly posted this over on WoodNet and I thought it was good enough to share.