Thoughts from Ione Woodford
It is with mixed emotions that we share this piece of writing by Ione Woodford. Ione was a long-time resident of the Camden Community and passed away one year ago at the age of 93. We miss her presence in our neighborhood, but we are grateful for the long, healthy life she had and the many years we had to hear her stories. The following piece was written while Ione was honing her skill as a writer (typed on a typewriter!).
Ione was a founder of the Camden Community News and frequent contributor, and she published her memoirs in 2016 — Tales from an Inkslinger: The Memoir of a Maverick. A memorial was published in the Camden News on April 27, 2018. – Linda Steck Stewart
By Ione Woodford
The melodious clang of colliding irons broke the stillness of the early morning in an overture to the rising sun. The sound echoed and re-echoed in the little grove of trees surrounding the work shop.
Inside, in contrast with the early grey of dawn, rosy hues reflected on the blackening walls, the blazing flames of the fire box. To the click-clack accompaniment of the bellows, the flame grew hotter.
With an unhurried, systematic motion, the aging, slightly-stooped man bent over the fire, removed the furiously red iron and again began the pounding and shaping of the metal.
Thus, before Chanticleer had stirred from his perch, a plow share would be formed and cooled or a chair mended.
Slowly the sun would begin its ascent in the heavens and, with it, the farm began to hum with activity. But, for my grandfather, the active days of seeding and harvesting were over. His choice was the long, grueling day in the blacksmith shop.
Many times I would go to watch him at his work, fascinated by the flying sparks and the innumerable wrenches and pliers. As I entered, he would occasionally look up to see who had darkened the entrance, then go directly on with his work, never speaking a word.
It was hard for me, as a child, to understand this man of few words. I feared him and yet I liked him because he was my grandfather.
He abhorred any form of idleness. I shall never forget the time, when, on a hot summer day, on the way to his blacksmith shop, he found me idly sitting in a swing. He came up to me and said in Norwegian, “Why aren’t you working like the rest of us? You’ll never amount to anything that way because you’re lazy.”
But I shall remember the time at the shop when he came outside, sat down on the stoop and began talking to me in English. I was amazed, for I didn’t think he could understand it, much less talk about playthings in the language of a child.
He rarely smiled, yet when he did, he smiled as though he had done it all his life and we knew it was genuine.
The blacksmith shop is empty now. The black walls of the shop no longer compete with the rosy hues of the rising sun, and the early morning symphony has been stilled for many years. Yet this man with his quiet manner and the clamor of the anvil in his ears will remain in this setting of my memory forever.
This article was written/submitted by Linda Steck Stewart