A Lesson From Dad

 A Lesson From Dad

I'm not sure I actually remember breaking the window but I certainly do remember learning how to fix it. It was one of those incidents of childhood, retold so often that it becomes part of the family legend obscuring the dim line between memory of the story and the memory itself.

I was about six years old. For Christmas, I received a cowboy outfit complete with hat, vest and holster belt containing two toy six-shooters. Like every other boy in those thrilling days of yesteryear, whose Dad was a devoted fan of Marshall Dillon, I knew just what one was supposed to do with those six-guns.

First you stand with your feet shoulder width apart, knees bowed out, elbows bent so that your hands hang loosely just to the outside of the pistol grips. Your fingers wiggle and twitch. Suddenly, at the drop of a hat or the blink of the bad guy's eye, you grasp the pistol, draw and fire, as quickly as you can.

Having dispatched the bad guy, you lift the tip of the gun barrel to your lips and blow away the lingering wisp of smoke. As you drop the gun back to waist level, you twirl it by the trigger guard around your trigger finger and deftly replace it in the holster.

I had the draw part down pretty good. But one day as I stood alone in the living room, practicing, the exercise went bad. As I initiated the twirl, after a particularly difficult shot, the gun predictably flew off my finger and hit the front living room window, dead center, shattering the windowpane.

I do not recall what happened next, or my mother's immediate reaction. Nor do I have any particular recollection of my father's reaction. Perfectly capable of losing his temper on occasion, I do not recall that this was one of those times. So what do I remember?

The window in question looked out the front of the house onto an enclosed front porch. I remember sitting on a stool, on the porch, in front of the window. My father was beside me. He removed the remaining glass shards still stuck in the window frame. This left a slot where the glass had been. One wall of the slot was the rabbeted edge of the window frame. The other was formed by the putty used to hold the glass in place. We inserted a putty knife into the slot and using the window frame as a fulcrum, broke the old putty loose. Old-fashioned window putty is not soft and pliant like modern sealants. It dries hard like cement and is tough to remove We then used a chisel to clean off the remaining putty, down to the wood frame.

Dad lifted the new glass pane into the window. While holding the glass in place, we insert the glazing points. These are little metal triangles. One point of the triangle faces the wood frame. A putty knife or screwdriver is placed against the opposite flat side and pressure is exerted. The point is embedded into the wood frame to hold the glass in place.

With the new glass firmly in place, we applied new glazing putty to form a fillet where the glass meets the frame. The putty will harden and help to hold the glass in place but its primary purpose is to seal the window against wind and water.

I sat on that stool through the entire job. I don't remember how much of the actual work Dad made me do other than to try a little bit of each step. I know that I learned two things from this experience. I learned how to repair a broken window and I learned to be more careful and not break things in the first place.

KatieC   KatieC wrote
on 4/27/2008 4:57:53 PM
Ah, it makes much more sense now! Still a terrific piece. ~kate

seeker561   seeker561 wrote
on 4/27/2008 4:55:00 PM
Katie C. _ Thanks for pointing out the missing line. The first time i posted this. I some how pasted it twice. I went back in through the edit mode and deleted the second copy. I must have cut one line too many.

KatieC   KatieC wrote
on 4/27/2008 3:33:52 PM
"I know that I learned two things" Is the story supposed to end here? What two things did you learn? Great, great story though. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and could visualize my older brother decked out in his own Marshall Dillon costume. I think I may even have a picture around here to blackmail him with someday. I have used a ton of glazing points in my life when refinishing antique furniture that contains either glass or mirrors. It is definitely an art to get the putty in there just right. ~kate

seeker561   seeker561 wrote
on 4/26/2008 12:16:57 PM
"Thanks for igniting the memory" Charles - Thanks for reading. Perhaps it is part of the magic of storytelling to remind us of our own stories.

Charles   Charles wrote
on 4/26/2008 12:06:36 PM
Hey Wm. H. I remember those six shooters,Bat Masterson, Marshall Dillion, The Rifleman Davey Crocket and the rest of the gang. You probably remember those heavy duty black rubber tomahawks we also had in our arsenals. Well, at about the same period in time that you were taking that difficult shot I found myself having to save my house and family from a pack of Indians. In order to accomplish that feat, as I notice one of the Indians out of the corner of my eye pearing in my bedroom window, I raised my tomahawk and aimed it right for that Indian in the window. I never remembered what happened to the Indian but I clearly remember what happened to the window. I haven't told the story in quite a while because nobody wants to hear the legend anymore. It now lays somewhere between the memory of the story and the memory itself. Thanks for igniting the memory.

Special Interest
Parenting and family
writing seeker561
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A story from childhood, a lesson learned.
Published Date
4/27/2006 12:00:00 AM
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