Friday, July 9, 2010

Residential Industrialists Finish First Spooner Vat

We're declaring that "by proxy" Old Man Spooner "did it himself," and finished off his company's first vat.

The fact is, he did it with a little help from his friends, but, no matter, we aren't looking for any credit. As far as we're concerned, the first completed Spooner vat was done by him and his family, the first Spooner vat being accomplished in-house.

Old Ted dreamed big when it came to the promises of the residential industrial movement. The rest of us have been generating electricity, stamping out shoes, manufacturing tires, assembling and packing disposable diapers, making X-ray machines, etc. -- mostly easy stuff. But Ted and the whole Spooner family bit off a much bigger piece of the industrial chew, electing against all odds to make vats.

Vats are the stuff of industry, you might say they're big behind the scenes. But there's very little obviously glamorous about the vat. They never give them away on "The Price Is Right." They're seldom rolled out with fanfare like the new models of cars in the fall, with showgirls. The Sunday paper ads never have this week's bargains on vats and accessories. Even the trade magazines by and large have turned a blind eye to the vat. The assumption has always been, you need one, you get one, no questions asked.

But being the stuff of industry, you can't walk into a factory or an industrial section very far without coming across a vat. Because you need somewhere to put it, whatever it is. In a processing plant for animals, for example, you need somewhere for the various parts to go, heads, feet, insides, etc. You might fill a vat and roll it into cold storage or immediately wheel it down to the train yard, emptying it with the help of a big machine that comes down, clamps on to the side posts and pulls it up, allowing gravity to do its job to completion.

The fact is, though, as many vats as there are, they're very tough to make, if you haven't got exactly the right formula or plan or equipment or parts to do it. And that was the problem at the Spooners. Ted was trying to make them, I'd say on the cheap, with parts and tools that weren't necessarily made for that purpose. Where would he get the parts? And even if he could find the parts, it's tricky. If you don't get the sides welded together just so, they're going to fall apart, leak, or be ultimately unusable. So it took quite a while and he had very little to show for his efforts.

And then it happened. Even though "Safety First" is a motto we've all heard, there was a major injury, with three sides of one vat falling every which way with Ted right there in it. And strapped in a welding helmet like he was, of course he couldn't get his bearings or recognize just what was going on. All he knew was the crushing weight was very very heavy, much too heavy for a few of his old bones to withstand, and that meant something had to give. He might've died, but thankfully he pulled through, sustaining only some major crushing to his lower extremities, as well as two broken arms, a battered neck, incidental abrasions, and a headache to boot.

At that point, the Spooners might've easily given up and left the residential industrial movement, going back to backyard gardening and tending their koi pond, and nobody would've blamed them. But thanks to their selfless neighbors -- showing the true spirit of cooperation, unlike the major industrial powers, for whom the survival of the fittest is the creed -- everyone pitched in, bringing welders, welding helmets, heavy duty coveralls, matches, etc., and the first vat was officially assembled and left shining brand new at the end of their line.

Ted was wheeled in in a hospital bed that some of the folks to the south had made and lent him. Then the rest of us parted, revealing to him the vat setting there in all its glory. He looked at it with a smile, showing pride. One of his arms seemed to stir, which Mrs. Spooner noticed. She reached down and lovingly helped his hand make a "thumbs up" and lifted it about an inch off the bed. Shouts of appreciation were heard for miles around.

Then each man returned to his home, feeling warm inside.

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