Tending to the Canvas
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After harvest the canvases were rolled tightly, tied with baling wire and swung from the rafters above our shop where the mice and rats couldn’t damage them. Rats loved to gnaw on the leather belts when hungry. Just before harvest every year, the canvases were unrolled on a freshly swept floor for inspection and repair.
Tending the canvas was where this little boy shined. Every inch of canvas, belting and wood slats was examined for wear or breakage. Each repair required that holes be drilled or punched, a copper rivet inserted, a copper washer slipped over the end, the rivet cut to proper size and, finally, the end of the rivet bradded over with a ball-peen hammer until it was tight and secure.
Once my father had drilled the holes and made sure all was in proper alignment, the rest was up to me. In went the rivet, on went the washer, a quick snap with the cutter and I took my own little hammer, just my size, and pounded down the end as smooth as possible. A rough rivet might cause wear anywhere it rubbed.
I was very young but my father bragged that I was the best riveter he had working for him. Of course, I was the only helper he had at the time, but I didn’t think of that until I was nearly grown and looking back. FC
Delbert Trew is a freelance writer, retired rancher and supervisor of the Devil’s Rope Museum in McLean, Texas. Contact him at Trew Ranch, Box A, Alanreed, TX 79002; (806) 779-3164; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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