The Shovel (and me)

Credit: Wonkee Donkee Tools

I grew up in New England, in a working class neighborhood of 3-decker houses, large multi layered structures with a family occupying each floor. My family had the first floor, and why not, it was ours. Renters took floors two and three. From my earliest recollections, the house was heated with coal. A coal shovel, or two, was always laying on the dirt floor of our cellar, between the furnace and the coal bin

The ‘coal man’ would drive his delivery truck along side a ground level window above the coal bin, and deliver the coal via a long chute from the truck, through the open window and into the bin.

It was my dad’s job to shovel the lumps of coal into the furnace, regularly, to keep a steady flow of heat into the house. The heavy steel shovel with upturned sides was the tool he used for the job. It was laborious.

I was still a youngster when dad converted our furnace from coal to oil, but the shovel still had a purpose. It became my tool of choice, my only choice actually, for shoveling snow. Never mind the weight of a big snow, the shovel, itself, was a man’s size tool, heavy, and using it to move snow was laborious.

Along came the light weight aluminum snow shovel, specifically designed for that job. What a blessing. Of course, aluminum isn’t as strong as steel and it strained under the weight of a blade full of snow, rivets loosened, the cutting edges bent* and the shovel became less stable. Snow removal, became frustrating, as well as laborious.

Ahhh, plastic. So many products once made of steel are now made with plastic because today’s resins used in plastic are super strong, resilient. The plastic shovel has proven to be very light weight and durable. I have two that I’ve used for years. They moved with me from house to house and do quite well at removing snow. Nevertheless, the very task of removing snow, itself, is still ever laborious.

As time passed and I could afford something more elaborate, my choice of snow removal tools and methods changed. I bought a snow blower, or thrower. It’s big, powerful and noisy. However, while it shortens the labor time, I’m still challenged with the physicality of operating this machine. It’s remains laborious.

This year, I splurged and hired a plow service. While he plows the driveway with his truck, often before the first light of day, I watch from my kitchen window, between the slats, coffee in hand, slippers on my feet, and dressed for indoors in flannel pajamas. I find it to be less laborious.

Oh, yes, I still use a shovel to even the edges. Easy!

Steve ( February 2021. *thank you, Liz!

For more fascinating shovel info, check out ‘wonkee donkee tools, an English website and it’s not laborious

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Retired in 2013 after 5 years as an elementary school teacher and 40 years as a sales representative to begin anew as a school crossing guard. SMy essays/stories are a way to communicate through the telling of personal experiences. One reader said about my blog stories, "...these are like a cold sip during a marathon run, simple, real life events". Another offered about my blog, “it brings some sense of normalcy not easily found in the modern world.”

33 thoughts on “The Shovel (and me)”

  1. There were always shovels around our place. My dad was a farmer/rancher and used shovels for many things including digging holes, removing rocks and shovelling s–t. It was a useful tool.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I bet he had more than one kind of shovel. As for shoveling s..t, I have a neighbor who grew up on a farm and he still has his manure shovel. There are times when I want to give one to politicians when I hear them speaking 😂💩

      Liked by 1 person

    1. John, I’ve been hearing about your weather, awful weather. Just stay inside and let Mother Nature do her thing to rid it. We’re under a storm warning, expecting 9-11 tonight. Nothing will stop, just slowdown a bit. Thanks for reading and commenting. Stay warm.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, thank you, but it might be that we’re just to dumb to know better. But, seriously, my wife has a doc appt in the morning by which time we should have 6” and it’s going to last for a few hours after that. Our big question is, ‘do you think the doc will see me earlier?’ Not only don’t things stop, they don’t slow down much, either 🤪

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s funny. But isn’t it odd that in the télé visits, they don’t or can’t (digit exam) do some of the procedures they would do in person. That’s understandable but they make the mistake of telling you, ‘oh, you don’t need that!’ What?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. It has always fascinated me – big houses with basements and furnaces in the USA. We had a coalman when I was a child. They came on a truck with sacks of coal, carried them on their backs round to the back garden and tipped the coal into the top of the coal bunker. The bunker had a small door at the front to shovel the coal into the coal scuttle which lived in the fireplace in the living room.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I write a story about our big old house. Had a big back yard that was paved which made for a great play area for all the kids in the big families that lived in the neighborhood. It was a great place to grow up in a working environment. Thanks for your nice comment. Memories are great.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. When I was younger, I used to do everything. Part of that was due to economics. Now that I’m older and retired, I still like to do some jobs, but I have no problem hiring someone for others. Snow removal, like everything else, evolves.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for the comment, Pete. Sometimes it’s hard letting someone else do what you’ve always done. Snow removal is an example. But the damn snow gets heavier every year. And, amazingly, I get older every year. Snow shoveling is a hood task to relinquish.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Steve: Great story on the evolution of snow removal. I also shoveled sand at the foundry circa 1969-1973. I was known as the best clean up guy in the company. I am not quite to the “hire a snow removal service” stage. I still enjoy the satisfaction of a clean driveway.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mike, no matter the ventures, you’ve always been one of the best! As for hiring a snow plow service, I resisted because I like to do things myself, and I’m frugal (my wife says, cheap). But the body changes, the hands hurt, the feet….oh, well, no need to tell you this, you’ll find out on your own 😂🙀😉. Thanks for commenting, Mike.


  5. Great post, Steve. The evolution of the shovel from you childhood to now, and still the laborious job never changes. We have gone through shovels like you, yet hubby still prefers the heavy metal one – used for the walkway and cleaning up the edges after we snowblow. Stay warm!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. The other thing about a plastic shovel is that the snow doesn’t stick to it, keeping it light. For us, the best solution has been to move to Cornwall, where it almost never snows. It’s cheating, but we don’t even own a snow shovel anymore.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I asked a dumb question in my last comment when I asked if it was Cornwall, NY. Of course it’s not, you’re in the UK. Had a brain freeze for a minute, I apologize.


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