When I was a kid, Saturday morning was chore day. My dad would say, "C'mon, kid," and I'd hop in the station wagon, and we would drive down the street to Hooper Wolfe's hardware store.
Hooper Wolfe's had an old wooden door, painted white—except where the paint was worn off near the handle. Walk in, and you could hardly move. Two narrow aisles, counters filled with merchandise, shelves overflowing, stuff hanging from the ceiling: You'd think, No way am I going to find anything in here.
But you didn't need to. As soon as you walked in, Clarence from behind the counter would say, "Help you today?"
My dad would say something like, "I want to hang a light out back."
Clarence would emerge from behind the counter.
"Where ya gonna to hang it? Over the patio? Well then …" And he would start rummaging through shelves until he found just the right light—"you want a light like this. And don't use these bolts here; they're good for indoor stuff, but for outdoor, you want galvanized."
"Your wall is brick, isn't it?" Clarence asked. (Though our town was small, I was impressed he knew what our house was made of). "Well, to run the conduit through there, you want a masonry drill bit at least ¾ of an inch. If we don't have that in stock, you can get one over at Miller's Lumberyard."
Then Clarence would pull a flat carpenter's pencil off his ear and get out a little piece of paper and sketch it all out. "The conduit goes here … and make sure you don't mount the light too close to the soffit."
Today, when I do chores on Saturday, I head to ...