Girls don’t need tools

It was 1968, I was in Grade 8 when an announcement came over Hodgson Junior High’s PA system: “There will be a special Industrial Arts after-school class for girls. Maximum 15 girls. Sign-up sheet on the door. First come, first served.” 

Back then, girls were required to take Home Ec, while boys were shunted to Industrial Arts. No exceptions. Always the rebel, I was dying to learn how to fix stuff. My dad didn’t know how to change a light bulb and my mom used a hammer for everything. Needless to say my signature was the first on the list.

Imagine my shock when I wasn’t one of the 15 girls chosen. I headed for the VP’s office, demanding to know why not.

In a low voice, despite the door being closed, the VP informed me that there were… girls… who would need to know this kind of thing. They’d be… on their own. Probably raising families… on their own.” Our school sat squarely between a middle class neighbourhood and a rather dumpy “wrong side of the tracks” neighbourhood. (Which would later gentrify right out of my price range.)

“What about me?” I asked. “I need to know these things.”

“Oh, no.” He chuckled. “You’re from a good home. You’ll marry well.”

I’ll marry well. Huh. What do you even say to that?

And I did. I married a man who knew how to do it all–hang drywall, fix plumbing, rewire a lamp, and refinish furniture. But he wasn’t interested in teaching me any of it. He preferred to work alone and I knew better than to touch his tools. When we split up last year, he was scrupulously fair in dividing up the tools (but not the power tools), making sure I got my equal share… of things I didn’t know how to use.

So here I am. Five months later, totally enamoured of upcycling furniture–saving pieces from landfill and turning them into beauties. It’s all trial and error… more error than trial sometimes. I now own a drill and a power screwdriver. They were sold as a set–I don’t know which is which. No kidding. The instruction manuals? All assume that much basic knowledge. Me? I don’t know how to affix a drill bit. Or is it a screwdriver bit? But I’ll figure it out.

I’m perservering. I’m pleased with my results so far. Because with paint, if you screw up, you just do it over. Here’s a sampling of my work so far:

From this… to that. It’s all from gargage sales and thrift stores, even the lovely striped fabric was a $3.00 curtain from Salvation Army.

Stick with me for some entertaining adventures in upcycling. Because you know what? Girls do need tools!


About Gina Storm Grant

I'm a writer and upcycler. I have 14 books published under 3 pen names: Storm Grant, Gina X. Grant, and Gina Storm Grant. I rescue found furniture from the curb, as well as one oversized Mexican Street Dog named Canoli.

Posted on February 10, 2019, in #Feminista, #NewLife, #Upcycling, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Love it Gina!!! I don’t really know you, but I know for a fact this is you!!! You are already enjoying your new chapter!!! I feel so privileged to be on the sidelines rooting you on!!!


    • Facebook friends can be real friends. Someday, when the weather’s better, stop in on your way by. I love your photography, too. It’s never too late to pursue a new passion. Thank you for your support and comments. To us, and our new beginnings!


  2. Meredith Elliott

    Loved reading this 🙂 It’s so topical right now for a lot of us! X


  3. You go Gina girl!! Girls DO need tools. I have to say, I “married well” too…just not in the handyman type of way! haha But he doesn’t mind cooking and cleaning a bit. I’m the handy one. I was lucky to have a Dad who thought it was important to teach us these things. And a Mom who, well, could and still can pretty much do anything!

    We had to know how to change a tire on the car alone, before we could write our drivers test. And he taught me to change the oil and – get this – REGAP sparkplugs in my old mustang!! I’m not sure cars even have sparkplugs anymore. I once sanded, prepped and painted an old ’73 bug in our greenhouse when I was 17. Loved that car. All this to say – GO GIRL! I’ve loved every power tool or hand tool I ever got and use them lovingly to fix whatever I have to… or sometimes just let my fingers do the walking! 🙂 And when in doubt, I’m sure there’s a great youTube video on what you need, when your girlfriends aren’t there to teach you.


  4. I remember your mustang. That is so cool that you learned all that. Wish I had, but it’s never too late. It’s like, I dunno, completely changing your career later in life from marketing to landscape design. 😎


  5. Nice post, Gina! Nobody can stop us now thanks to YouTube. 😉


    • Last week I bought a product called Goof Off. Not to be confused with Goo Gone, Goof Off is a serious chemical which requires a mask and thick gloves. I need it to take off the final layer of sticky stuff the previous upcycler used to glue maps to the unusual little side table I scored at the Sally Ann. But I couldn’t figure out how to open it. So I googled “Open Goof Off” and found someone’s homemade 1-minute video. What surprised me was that thousands and thousands of other people had watched it. I am not the only person who needs help with even the most basic aspects of home improvement.


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