Yes, it is for real. Hanging plain as day on the faded, old, whitewashed wall of a rural Adel garage, is this very sign — “What Happens in the Garage Stays in the Garage.” And one man’s longing for “simpler times” is what gives this piece of tin its significance.
The story that follows just had to be shared with the faithful readers of this column. To be honest, it took a pan of “from scratch” brownies and a promise of “Your name will not be revealed” in order to acquire permission to snap the photographs, let alone convince “Paul” to relate his charming little story.
“First, look closely at what’s in the picture. Do you see a computer or a cell phone or one of them iPads? How about “questionable” magazines? No, you don’t,” Paul says emphatically, but with a friendly wink. He continues: “All you see is a man, a wrench, an old car, a football game on the TV and a couple of cans of beer… maybe. Could be Pepsi-Cola for all I know.”
OK, so where is this headed? Paul takes a deep breath and continues.
“Well, I think this is a reproduction of an old sign, but the reason I cherish it is because my dad had a sign just like it hanging in his garage, during my youth, back in the ’50s. It is representative of a simpler and more innocent time.”
Paul is quiet and thoughtful, and suddenly the atmosphere in this old garage takes on a different mood. The ravages of time have caused the old clapboard walls to separate, allowing the sun through in order to highlight the swirling dust. Suddenly, everything in the room appears as in a time warp.
Without words, Paul points to the block and tackle suspended from the open rafters above, and then to the potbelly stove below. His eyes take on a faraway look as he motions toward a metal fan oscillating its heart out on a dusty shelf, next to a green Crosley Bakelite tube radio. Spread about the room are feed sacks, dozens of tools hanging haphazardly from pegboards and the empty shell of a 1921 Model A Ford up on blocks. Permeating the air is the unmistakable odor of sawdust, soaking up crank case oil.
But when his eyes fall upon the south wall, Paul can’t help but smile as he tells the story behind what leans there.
“That is a 1953 Schwinn B-607. I know she looks a bit weathered but she came by that honestly. As a team, we delivered four years worth of newspapers.” He pauses, then whispers with pride, “My first job.”
A shy man, Paul concludes the interview rather abruptly. As he turns to lead the way out the door, his last words were. “This old garage is as much like my old man’s garage as I could make it. He was a man of integrity; he was my hero.”
Contact Darren at 953-4822 ext. 304 or firstname.lastname@example.org to recommend someone for an upcoming issue of “What’s In Your Garage?”