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Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Before you leave, you've got to see
Beamesderfer's Hardware. It's our little town's
closest claim to fame. It sits on the corner
of Elm and Main. The ancient sign
out front modeslty announces "Hardware."

 Derfy, that's what everybody calls him, is
in his 80's and knows the name and size
of every screw and bolt that's ever been
manufactured. They're scattered all over
the store but he knows exactly where. 
Walk in the place and you'll swear 
you're back in 1947.

Once, just for fun, I told him I needed
a left-handed monkey wrench.
Without cracking a smile, he walked
to the back of the store and brought
back a rusty wrench. "I've been
saving this," he said, "for the next
jackass who asked for one.
Eleven dollars and seventy-five cents."
The look on his face told me I'd better pay.
I did.


  1. A wonderful story, well told! According to the Urban Dictionary, there is no such thing as a left-handed monkey wrench. Is that true? Was there anything different about the wrench Derfy sold you, or did he just call your bluff and sell you an old wrench?

  2. I heard the left-handed monkey wrench joke when I was a kid. . In the invented story, I'm a "wise guy" who gets put in his place, deservedly so. I combined my memory of an old hardware store with my memory of some "old-timers" who weren't quite as "dumb" as I thought they were. "Derfy" has heard the joke one too many times. So he turns the joke on me.