I recall the first mechanic that I ever knew, the most important one
I ever met, when I was eighteen and a sailor based at Charleston.
The Navy base had for amenity, an auto hobby shop.
An old civilian man worked there on good days part time.
My first car was a derelict Mercedes Benz.
I was taking all of it apart, but got stuck at the first lug nut.
I had a handy-dandy hand-held impact wrench--
hit its head with a hammer and
rounded off the last of the hex flats.
Fred was passing seventy back in 1973.
He looked like silent movie actor Buster Keaton,
although Fred was never funny.
Fred had swollen feet and rheumy eyes that spoke as much,
as he spoke little--quiet man dealing with heart failure,
dropsy, it was one-time called.
Fred presided at the auto hobby shop, where mostly, he pointed.
Back to rounding off lug nuts:
Fred came to my bay where he assessed the situation in five seconds.
He produced chisel out from overalls
and he took up a hammer
and he demonstrated to the youth
how real mechanics work.
Of course it was just
a confident strike of cold chisel
held obliquely to the nut.
One more blow, and it was done.
Fred said not a word, he only looked at me
and winked as I responded
in amazement with my thanks.
"Fred! That's great!
When did you learn to do that?"
"1920", and that is all, and that is all.