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Terri Simon



It’s just a small piece of twine — only about 12 inches long, and it’s been in varying places on my kitchen counter now for a couple of weeks. It’s been moved to a shelf in the kitchen, back to the counter, over to the other counter, on top of the recipe box, back to the counter ...

The twine came from a spring gardening project. Why I just didn’t throw away that small scrap of twine I’m not sure ... or maybe I am. You see, I grew up following around my grandfather, who seldom ever threw anything away. After all, a perfectly good, 12-inch piece of twine might come in handy some day. More than once, I used to see Grandpa save a scrap of this or a scrap of that.

And so it was the other day when I had grown tired of seeing that small piece of twine on my counter top. I picked up that scratchy piece of golden-colored twine — ready to either throw it away or take it to the garden garage ... and then it hit me. Actually, it stopped me in my tracks. That tiny piece of twine in my fingers immediately took me back almost 50 years, when Grandpa’s spools of twine translated to something far more important.

The memory is so vivid. Nearly every spring, Grandpa and I would head to the tool shed, where he had a contraption that would twist strands of twine into rope. For lack of a better description, the “rope maker” was rather cumbersome, yet Grandpa knew just how to hold the strands of twine to make the most perfect rope you can ever imagine. He could make the rope as thick or as thin as he wanted, depending on what the rope would be used for around the farm. Now that I think back on those long ago days, Grandpa’s “rope maker” was pretty cool.

The ropes he made found their way into a variety of venues around the farm. He used them with the animals and the livestock, in the barn and the machine shed, had several hanging on some big hooks in the tool shed, and there was even one he kept in the trunk of the old, green Chevy.

But the best ropes he ever made were for me ... Every spring, we’d head to the tool shed and in about 15 minutes, he would have created the perfect jump rope for this little girl. He’d measure it carefully before he snipped the twine and then wrapped the ends with some black electrical tape to keep them from unraveling. With a smile, he’d hand that rope to me, and as a little girl, I’d spend hours jumping rope, using it to tie onto my tricycle to pull things around the barnyard, and even attempting to lasso the ponies and cows in the pasture. Oh, how I loved my homemade jump ropes!

But then I got a bit older — probably third grade or so, and one day, our physical education teacher asked each of us to bring our own jump ropes to school. Imagine the look on my face when all my friends came to school with these white, cotton jump ropes with brightly-painted wooden handles which they’d bought at Hornsby’s Dime Store. They looked at Grandpa’s sturdy, twine jump rope with black electrical tape on the ends, and they ... laughed. I was crushed, embarrassed, horrified.

With that 12-inch piece of twine in my hands, it didn’t take long for those memories to come flooding back. I can remember bringing my jump rope home from school, crying and vowing I’d never take it back to school again.

My how times have changed! What I wouldn’t give today to have one of Grandpa’s homemade jump ropes — made and twisted with his very own hands. What I wouldn’t give to see the twinkle in Grandpa’s eyes when he snipped the ends, wrapped that electrical tape around the ends and proudly handed it to me. What I wouldn’t give ...

That 12-inch piece of twine is still laying on my kitchen counter. Funny how the past often intertwines with the present.

BCR Editor Terri Simon can be reached at tsimon@bcrnews.com or follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bcrnews.tsimon.