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Did Monkeys Invent the Monkey Wrench?: Hardware Stores and Hardware Stories
     

Did Monkeys Invent the Monkey Wrench?: Hardware Stores and Hardware Stories

by Vince Staten, Deirdre C. Amthor (Designed by)
 
From the beloved author of Can You Trust a Tomato in January? comes a narrative romp through that great American institution--the hardware store. Behind every tool there is a useful history and a colorful anecdote. Vince Staten relates them all--from the origin of the hammer, chain saw, and drill bit (which built the vast Hughes fortune) to the role the shovel played

Overview

From the beloved author of Can You Trust a Tomato in January? comes a narrative romp through that great American institution--the hardware store. Behind every tool there is a useful history and a colorful anecdote. Vince Staten relates them all--from the origin of the hammer, chain saw, and drill bit (which built the vast Hughes fortune) to the role the shovel played in winning the West.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"The hardware store is to the average man what the dress or hat shop is to a woman," we are told here, but even men who are not average, and women too, will enjoy this compendium. Staten (Can You Trust a Tomato in January?) grew up working in his father's hardware emporium in Tennessee, but here he focuses on the shop of Ronnie Matthews in Winfield, West Virginia, after pointing out that a hardware store is not a do-it-yourself discount outlet or a home improvement center, but rather a place where customers can socialize or buy a single nail if they want. There is etymology in these pages (the monkey wrench was not invented by Charles Moncke or laborer "Monkey" White or monkeys), there is history (the ancient Egyptians invented locks) and there are dozens of amusing anecdotes. The reader will learn such interesting minutiae as the fact that 90% of Americans call duct tape "duck tape." There are also some clever sketches, and it all adds up to fun. (June)
Library Journal
To do-it-yourselfers, hardware stores are sacred ground, comfortable places to shoot the breeze and ocassionally buy a screw or two. Staten, who grew up working in his father's store, conveys the traditional "general store" quality of hardware stores (not to be confused with home centers). Staten alternates short sections discussing the history of a variety of tools and products with anecdotes about hardware stores and their employees. While there are some interesting stories, most are not particularly insightful (many involving a particularly individual would be interesting only if one knew him or her personally). This is unfortunate because, like the diner and the general store, old-time hardware stores seem to be destined to disappear, pushed aside by the newcomers. There is definitely a need for an interesting book on the subject, but librarians can pass on this title.-Jonathan N. Hershey, Akron-Summit Cty. P.L., Akron, Ohio
Mike Tribby
Appealing to the crowd that makes "Home Improvement" a TV hit, Staten combines the reminiscences of a son of mom-and-pop hardware-store owners (himself) with anecdotal histories of nearly everything you can find in such an establishment. He arranges the book by hardware-store department--paint and decorating, plumbing, tools, etc.--and then by item. Under "Drills," we learn that Duncan Black (of "and Decker" fame) started business with $600 from selling his car and in 1914 got the idea of the pistol-grip electric drill from a Colt revolver; under "Drill Bits," that Howard Hughes' father, Bo, made his first fortune buying oil-field drill-bit patterns--and lost it in a poker game; under "Paint," that Captain Robert Fergusson's Rust-Oleum came out of its inventor's experiences with the reddened U.S. World War I victory fleet moored in New Orleans. Public libraries well might put this title on a revolving rack to attract practically minded patrons who don't expect to find light reading about their avocation.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780684801322
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
05/07/1996
Pages:
234
Product dimensions:
5.99(w) x 8.78(h) x 1.09(d)

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