A columnist of heart and mind

A columnist of heart and mind
Interviewing the animals at Children's Fairyland in Oakland. L-R: Bobo the sheep, Gideon the miniature donkey, me, Tumbleweed Tommy the miniature donkey, Juan the alpaca, Coco the pony

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Last Of The Old Fashioned Hardware Stores

(Above: The magical K&V Tite Joint Fastener.)
 My sister, who knows me oh so well, calls me "a man of very little faith," and she doesn’t mean it as a compliment. She's not referring to anything religious or spiritual; what she means is that I have a bad habit of always expecting the worst. And she's right. If I had a coat of arms, it would show a half-empty glass.
Then an amazing thing happened.
For the last two months I've been engaged in the arduous experience of moving to a new home (which I'll write about in another column). But at least I'd be able to take my two cats, Sally and Pepe with me, as well as my beloved chest bed, which has a lot of sentimental value for me (two ex-girlfriends and five cats).
But when the movers came to pack me up, they informed me that they wouldn't be able to put the chest bed back together again because it needs four essential metal thingamabobs to connect the pieces, and three of them were missing.
What's more, they were doubtful about my chances of finding any replacements. "They're so rare, you'll never find one in a hardware store," they told me. But they gave me a list of places to start looking and wished me luck.
I prowled every salvage yard and antique store in Berkeley, but nobody even knew what the thingababob was, much less where I could find any.
I was in despair. Finally, I gave up and decided have a professional machinist hand-make me three more. It would mean big bucks, but I really love that bed.
But a little voice told me that I'd never rest easily unless I gave it one last shot and, despite what the movers said, ran it past the folks at my old tried-and-true, Berkeley Hardware.
I showed the thing to Assistant Manager Andy Taylor, and he said, "Oh yeah! A K&V Tite Joint Fastener!" (You mean the thing actually has a name?)
Whereupon, Inventory Manager Sherrin Farley, who had been listening to our conversation from her adjoining office, piped up, "I got 'em right here on my desk!"
It turns out they'd had them for nobody can remembers how long, and rather than let them take up space on the shelves, where nobody would want them anyway, she decided to stash them in her office and worry about what to do with them later.
Now that's a real, old fashioned family hardware store!
Berkeley Hardware has been serving the community for more than 120 years and has been owned by the same family for more than 70. Last month it moved from its longtime home on University Avenue to a new site at 2020 Milvia Street.
Family is the operative word, from owners Bill and Virginia Carpenter (and their kids and grandkids) to General Manager Quentin "Chuck" Moore to the employees, all of whom seem like they've been working there forever.
On August 20 they'll celebrate the move with a "Grand-Reopening" with refreshments, goody bags, drawings and more.
Parking can sometimes be iffy, but don't let that deter you. Berkeley Hardware is a community treasure. I mean, where else are you going to find a K&V Tite Joint Fastener?
And the kitties? I still haven't been able to coax Pepe out of the bedroom. Suggestions will be gratefully accepted.

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