When we bought Appleside Cottage, there were many things left behind from the previous owner. She was lovely to speak with; left her beautiful Madonnas at both doors to guard and bless our home, as well as a lively circular Shamrock sign attached to the side of our kitchen cabinets. Luck, luck and more luck.
There was a wonderful cabinet in the damp, stone basement with "St. Lawrence Waterway" stamped on the side in industrial stenciling, another beautiful beadboard cabinet nailed to the wall of the basement steps and painted 90 shades of white- which I promptly pried off the wall, stripped and restored and now use as a bookcase. We found a lonely spindle legged drop-leaf table in the back shed- minus the leaves that I cleaned and covered with one of my mother's 60's era tablecloths and now use as a computer table. But one of the nicest finds was the honest-to-goodness reel mower we found in the corner of the tiny, one-car garage.
While we were doing some gardening during the Memorial Day holiday in 2012, my husband and sons dragged the old reel mower out of it's corner and hovered around it, pushing it back and forth and speculating on it's possible effectiveness. Finally, my husband Jeff grasped the wooden handles and pushed it into the yard- a bold and determined decision to uncover the answers to their questions.
I watched this masculine dance with fascination; what was he doing? This relic couldn't possibly cut our grass decades after it had been parked! Well, I was delighted to be wrong... The wonderful old tool performed as well as it must have at least 100 years ago when it was made!
I have to confess to failing in trying to determine the origins of this mower. All I know is that it reads: Reading Special USA Pat Pend on the wheels.
To be honest, the cut-and-dried facts of the manufacture of our reel mower are relatively unimportant. What delights me is that this simple, well-designed, well-made American tool is every bit as good today as it was before I was born.
|Detail of the wooden handle|
|This is a cylinder mower from 1888. It is almost identical to ours. According to county records, Appleside Cottage first changed hands in 1887. So this style of mower could certainly have been the type the first owners used!|