Someone stole my wheelbarrow. It wasn’t anything special, a lawn ornament at best, old and rusty with a hole in the bottom. I had accepted the wheelbarrow when my dear mother’s family held the gathering in 1983 where they divided up property owned by my grandparents. My Grandma Opal had passed, and the family got together and passed out any items that family members wanted. Everything else went into an auction.

When they got to the old wheelbarrow, I held the only interest. My grandpa had used the wheelbarrow to move sand and cement and concrete around during their lawn ornament production. My grandparents constructed lawn ornaments out of concrete and other decorative indoor items out of plaster. These items were then sold to retail locations around the four-state region. It was the late 1960’s and early 1970’s when these types of items were popular and often seen in many lawns. They were at best somewhat cheesy items; some even fell in the unacceptable category by today’s standards. That was the time and the thing, and it was their home-based business.

Back to my wheelbarrow, old and rusty, with a steel front wheel with a broken clamp that held the front wheel in place. Areas of the tub still had concrete stuck to it. Not large areas, but areas where some had managed to adhere. Then there was that hole in the bottom. It turns out that this wheelbarrow had more history. History that I was not aware of. My dear mother brought new light to the wheelbarrow and also to the how the hole was made in the bottom.

I don’t know if the wheelbarrow belonged to my dad, but he had possession of it at the time. Dad had set out to erect a new clothesline for my dear mother. He was using some pieces of steel casing for the uprights and when digging the holes encountered rock or at the very least hardpan. Ted Sandlin was a close friend and neighbor and was assisting in the project. When the hard material was encountered and no progress was being made, they decided to blast through the hard material. Ted had the dynamite and Dad had a need. In goes the dynamite on top of the impenetrable material and in order to always maintain safe practice they covered the dynamite laden hole with, you guessed it, the wheelbarrow.

I have been around a lot of blasting operations in my time, but never have I seen one where; first the dynamite was just laid on top of the hard surface and second even where proper holes had been drilled and the dynamite packed properly it would still sometimes have an effect that is referred to as “shotgun”. The “shotgun” effect blew all kinds of loose material vertically out of the hole and through the bottom of the wheelbarrow. 

It’s been three years since someone stole my wheelbarrow. I hope it means as much to them as it meant to me!

-Paul Richardson is the proprietor of In Sane Marketing Solutions. He writes a weekly column, The Horse I Rode In On, for The Neosho Daily News and The Aurora Advertiser.