Thursday, October 2, 2008

Ken Laundry: Old Hardware, Strange Passion

We all have our secret passions. I’ll admit to a few, Dr. Freud. Please, Doc, tell me what they mean.

I love old hardware. Not the ornamental stuff, but the plain old get-the-job-done type of hardware. I love this latch:
I don’t know how old it is, but the door to which it is attached is part of a barn that was built around 1880 using material salvaged from an even older barn. The latch looks hand-forged, and perhaps the U-bolt was, too. I’m sure the U-bolt and latch were created at different times and only later united for the purpose of holding the barn door shut. No lock, of course. It was simply a cow barn. The wood is the original old cedar, recycled from the older barn. The webbing was added as weather-stripping at some point a long time ago. The nails are round, not square-cut antique. Nothing precious, nothing pretty. But Doc, I feel strangely happy looking at that picture.

Likewise, for me gazing at the following picture has an effect like chanting Ommm...
It’s another door, same barn. The cedar was painted white sometime before 1935, sometime later than 1880. The wood was milled using a great big circular saw in somebody’s ancient sawmill leaving those large-diameter kerf marks. The remains of the original latch are visible, a raggedy square of leather. The hook latch must have been added later, though long enough ago that it has worn a groove in the wood as the door swung open and closed. The mold speaks of freeze-thaw cycles and of warm moist animal-heated air seeping through the cracks to the frigid outdoors. Near the latch the paint has worn off and the wood has worn smooth from the friction of fingers, of white-breath mornings and pink sunset evenings tending to cows day after day, year after year, decade after decade. I swear, Doc, it gives me goose bumps.

Here’s another latch, and like the first, this one employs a bolt:
It also employs a chain. Have I mentioned that I love old chains?
And all forms of old hooks and clasps?

Ken thought I was nuts to be wandering around his barn taking all these photos. So I guess you could say that Ken has already psychoanalyzed me. We’re still friends, anyway.
Oh darn, our time is up. In the next post, Doc, I’ll confess to another, perhaps even stranger, passion.

[You can click on any of the images to see a larger view.]

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