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Mr. Fix-it

 Cappy Jack ©2002

I like to describe myself as having Yankee ingenuity. I’ll settle for good old American know how if you want to argue that growing up just north of Philadelphia disqualifies me. The point is – I can fix anything, thanks to my Dad.

“All roads lead somewhere…”, He used to say. But when he was driving they all seemed to go to the hardware store.

“Where are you going?”

“Just out”

“Let me see your wallet.” She took out all the big bills.

“Beverly and I have some shopping to do later.”

When Frankie and I got into the truck he said, “What do we need, boys?”

“Duct tape and determination!” We both piped up at once.

“Now I’ll show you how to do more with less.”


Mother’s parting shot when she and my sister went shopping was always, “Why don’t you fix something?”

“Alright, boys, we’ll mix a little concrete and repair that step.”  We had all twisted our ankles one time or other on that leg trap out back.

“Frankie, you mix. John, come with me.  Let’s figure it out.”  I was twelve and older. Frankie was thrilled at the gofer chore.

“You better come quick.” Dad looked him up and down for blood. We didn’t see any and got up slowly. Then the smell followed him out and we moved fast. Frankie talked on the run.

“I mixed it dry first, just like you said.” I pulled the plug real quick like.

“It just stopped after I had half the water in it.”

“No problem. Frankie, open the windows and wave your arms. Watch for your Mother, too. John, take the mix out back and finish the job.”  The blender was still hot to the touch but Dad had it apart in no time. He dipped the motor in karo syrup and put it back together.

“See it still works!” He showed Frankie just for a second. My brother could do a nice imitation of a seagull after that.


“It looks like John did it.” There wasn’t a hint of suspicion in her voice. Inspections could be critical.

“Everything doesn’t have to be perfect, Lily.” Dad always backed us up. She went back in to fix dinner.


We sat on the edge of the sofa watching the game and waiting. A bright flash came from the kitchen and we bolted before she could cry for help. The cloud of smoke was white, mushroom shaped and sickenly sweet. Mom and Beverly watched from a distance while I pulled the plug. I was Bev’s hero, I’m sure.

“Mixing it up with the appliances again, Lily?”

Frankie opened the windows and squawked.

“It smells different this time, Henry.”

“New model.”  He winked at me. If Mom saw it she didn’t let it change her trembling view that Dad knew electricity.


He told us in the cellar about winning Mom’s heart during their courtship when he courageously attached the rabbit ears to the TV.

“Don’t get shocked.” He could still see her on the sofa with her hands clasped together under her tilted chin. Electricity got the blame when he yodeled and he could still do a fair imitation of it.

“It was an octave higher and had tremulo.”  He explained the real culprit. The spade lead, taking offence at his deception, jammed itself under his thumbnail in protest.

“This is just between us, boys.” He liked to keep the mystery in their romance.


“Ugh. Fish eyes and glue” Beverly mimicked Mom’s look as the three of us ate our tapioca pudding across the table in the booth. Sunday supper after church was always the same. When we got back from the diner the firemen were mopping up and still laughing at all the code violations. We couldn’t go in yet and the fire chief came over to us all serious about what to do next.

“Do you need anything, Henry?”

“Duct tape!”, came right out of my mouth.  I looked at Mom and Dad holding hands.

“And determination!” Frankie piped up right after me. The Chief narrowed his brow at our smart remark.

“No, no, the boys are right.” 

“I can fix anything.”











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