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!