Some people find their calling early in life and — for the fortunate few — they can quickly become masters of their trade. This was true for Donat “Don” Beauregard, grandfather to Ray Beauregard, who recalls the man’s incredible carpentry skills through the handcrafted tools he left behind.
“I remember my dad had gone over to my grandfather’s place after he vacated it and picked up all his tools and took them to his basement and didn’t do anything with them,” says Ray. “So one year when my family was on vacation, my dad asked if I wanted any of the tools, and I said ‘I’d love the stuff.’
“The neat thing was that a lot of these handles were made by my granddad to fit specific to his hand,” says Ray. “I used a lot of these tools to build my deck, though unfortunately I managed to break some in the process.”
For Ray these tools are a connection to his grandfather; every single one seemingly sparks a new story in his mind. He recalls the grandfather, the hard worker, the skilled carpenter — the man who knew good craftsmanship even if Public Television said otherwise.
The story goes that “This Old House” was working up in Salem, Mass., where Don — then 101 years old — was living. It just so happened that Steve Thomas and Norm Abram were in Des Moines at a meet and greet where Ray asked if his grandfather could take a look at the house they were working on. Once they heard his age they were happy to accommodate him, though they probably didn’t realize his vast knowledge of the trade.
“As soon as my granddad got on site, my father told me he was shaking his head,” Ray says. “He looked at my dad and said, ‘This won’t stand; the way they’re doing this is just ridiculous.’ ”
Don never came around to power tools. Seeing all the people tripping over each other and power cords just made him anxious, and he ended up leaving early.
“As it turned out I was in Salem a couple years later, and I made a point to go down that street where the house was, and, sure enough, the siding was all falling apart; the front porch was coming apart,” Ray says. “It was just a mess; so he was right, they just threw it together.”
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