Wednesday, August 4, 2010


We’ve been plotting and planning and measuring for the new kitchen---just a tiny affair downstairs, one little wall-counter maybe 8’, with a corner turn into 4’ with the stove off on another wall, big and independent, sitting there like a huge squat frog with little round red handles to break the stern black of her face.

I want solid white, sturdy cabinets, with a pale top, perhaps Corian, perhaps not, but what I’d LOVE is one of those concrete counter-tops, pale gray and forever, with the faint marks of the maker’s touch. We haven’t arranged for anyone to do it yet, and the times make me long for dear old Truman Burke---man of all work, who “did for” everybody I knew of.

Daddy did all our building and re-modeling, as he was a master with wood and cabinetry, but Mr. Truman---he was an artist of his own kind.

Truman Burke---that's a Mississippi name, a Southern name, a name for a solid citizen who IS who he is and does what he does and everyone thanks him for it.

“Cars actin’ up. Better call Truman.”

“Truman, would you take a look under there? She’s makin’ that zzzzzwhoo sound again.”

“How’s Marlee n’ em, Truman?”

“How much I owe you, Truman?”

A mainstay of this great nation, a real person who does what he does, raises up from his hunker over your carburetor, wipes his hands on an oily rag, leans into the window and asks about the family. And when the voice from under the hood says, “Try ‘er now,” you know you’re on your way, your day lightened and your way eased by that noblest of Americans---the small-town mechanic/carpenter/handyman/plumber who everybody relies on and everybody knows by name, though it’s not there on an oval over his heart. A man who cleans up nice and shakes your hand in church and will stop anywhere, anytime, to help a stranded motorist/puzzled map-reader/kid hunting his dog.

He’s a man with a calling, perhaps not from On High, but from the earth---the gravel of the first roads, the concrete and the asphalt and Firestone tires and Valvoline and Quaker State and maybe I got a part to fit that.
Truman does his part to lift the flag and keep this country on the move. God Bless all the Trumans---I hope you know one.


Beverly said...

We who are lucky enough to know a "Truman" are truly blessed. I am smiling just thinking of him.

I hope your day gets better. I'm still munching on my last cantaloupe, but there are just a few chunks left. Yummo!

Kim Shook said...

My granddaddy was a Truman - he could fix anything he put his hand to. He could (and did) build a tractor or machine or house from the ground up - including designing and making parts that didn't exist before his need. Home computers were just coming in when he passed and he was fascinated with them. He'd have had one of his own, if he'd lived, I'm sure - smart is smart whether it's cars or computers! Like Beverly says: A 'Truman' is a blessing.

Tonja said...

My, what glorious hands! I think those are the kind of hands that never quite get all the black out from around the nails. But, tender and sweet hands, too. Bet they could rock a baby very well...along with all the other workd they do!

Southern Lady said...

Wish there were more Trumans around today. The world would surely be a better place. Loved this post, Rachel!

Keetha said...

Indeed. What a great tribute to the Trumans of the world. Thank you for that!

Kouign Aman said...

My daddy is a Truman, albeit a grumpy one.
He pisses and moans about how much time it ahall takes, but never a broken car shall he pass, nor broken household item in a place where he is, without he lays hands on it and makes it better.

Maggie Norman said...

Oh I do love the Trumans of the world. Hard to find in the city but we do have one such gentle spirit only a few blocks away.

By the way, I've been wanting concrete counter-tops forever. Absolutely lovely and would look perfect with one of those large farm sinks.