Putting a Fix on It


| 9/4/2018 10:09:00 AM


Leslie C. McManusThings I've fixed: chipped pottery, stubborn vacuum cleaners, rips and tears. The kids shake their heads, but some vestige of my forebears' thriftiness and resourcefulness remains intact in me.

At an antique store once, I saw a very old, very beautiful punch bowl, complete with ladle and cups. "Someone really loved that," my friend said, "to take such good care of it for so long."

I sometimes think of those words when I look at the china platter that belonged to my great-great-grandmother. The platter, small by today's super-sized standards, is scarred by a crack running from top to bottom. After some disaster that broke the piece clean in two — jostled in a wagon during a cross-country move? Dropped in a startled response to a snake in the kitchen? Some sudden calamity? — the halves were glued together.

Today the platter hangs on my wall in all its aged and imperfect glory. The glue holds fast but is stained; there's no mistaking the mend. And yet I love it all the more for that. Those who came before me clearly understood things like value and function and making do. This treasure — a broken relic to anyone else – has endured for five generations. It speaks quietly but eloquently of the people my forebears were.

All of that is a long-winded explanation of this: I'm no mechanic. Unlike a farmer forced to make his own repairs, I've never fixed anything of any particular importance. But when collector Dennis Krzyzowski — in an article in this issue of Farm Collector — speaks of his preference for pieces in original condition, I knew I'd found a kindred soul. "When I find something that has an old farmer's fix on it, I highlight it," he says. "I don't try to hide it, because to me, it really does tell a story."



It's an incomplete story, to be sure, but only the first half remains shrouded in mystery. When we see a fix, we know it was almost always grounded in necessity. "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without."