It was Maxwellian

August 5th, 2012 by John Morris

A lot of folks bring their small problems to Maxwell’s Hardware. It’s a good thing they have small solutions. This is why I call our store “the court of last resort”. Our local box stores will tell you, if Maxwell’s doesn’t have it, no one does. Here’s a classic example.

It was 5:00 p.m. on a busy Wednesday. Two old guys came in carrying two propane connecting hoses. They had just been to the propane store next door with no luck. They offered this common greeting, “I know you won’t have what I need…” What they wanted was a coupling to connect the two hoses. This part would be located in the area of the store I call “Dante’s Inferno”. I sucked up my courage and lead them onward. Just then, Jim from the propane store came in to reinforce his belief we would have the part. Thanks for the pressure, Jimbo.

I studied the two ends of the hoses. One old guy said they were 3/4″ thread. I showed him that a 3/4″ double female brass coupling was too big. The next item I offered was the smaller, 1/2″ coupling. The nearest old guy gave it a try out. The unit fit smoothly on to both units, and they seemed pleased. They then told me they have been searching for this part since noon and had been everywhere. I asked where they were from.  They said, “Haverford”.

Imagine that! All across this vast area, and there was only one hardware with the inventory to solve their problem.

The old guys’ bill came to $2.43, and they left happy knowing their quest has ended.

This type of story is common at Maxwell’s Hardware. It usually happens after someone has gone to both Home Depot and Lowe’s only to be told, “If Maxwell’s doesn’t have it, no one does.”

It wasn’t the Olympics, but it’ll do.

August 4th, 2012 by John Morris

The 2012 Olympics featured a lot of volleyball in the early days. There was a time when this was not the case. It changed one night in 1984.

The scheduled network coverage was all about gymnastics this night. I know; I was watching it while vacationing at the Jersey shore. As they started their coverage, the arena grew dark. There was something wrong with the power. The competition was suspended, but the cameras’ red lights glowed bright and angry. The network had to do something. They had prepackaged videos meant to get us “up close and personal” with the athletes. Filler stuff at best, but this was prime time.

They must have asked, “What else do we have going on?” Seems USA mens volleyball was going on in another building. The plan was they would switch to volleyball and return to gymnastics when the power came back on. This must have rankled “real sports” fans since volleyball was considered a picnic game. We had been feasting on tiny pixies doing fancy stunts and wanted more.

With the world watching, the volleyball game became hotly contested. Our mens team showed world class athleticism and great team spirit. I stared at the TV and drank in it all in. After all my years of playing competitive volleyball, my chosen sport was finally getting some notice.

After a bit, the lights at the first gym were restored and, as promised, the coverage changed back. But something unexpected happened, a wave of people called in and asked for more volleyball. Note: in these pre-email days, people actually phoned the networks. The TV coverage was split between the two events. America’s mens volleyball team won this early round, and the network promised to show the upcoming match.

The next day, I went for one of my long walks along the beach. I drifted toward a makeshift volleyball court with some adults playing a sloppy version of the game. I was about 20 feet away when an errant ball rolled towards me. I heard the familiar, “A little help, buddy”. I picked the ball up and tossed it into the air smacking it sharply. It launched like a frozen rope – hey, it’s my story.

One guy said, “Come over here.”

I spent about an hour with these budding volleyballers. At their requests, I showed them how to bump, set and spike along with serve and block. As they grew more comfortable with the game’s mechanics, their games started looking darn good. They even took on a team of passing-by jocks.

I shook hands with them and asked them to keep playing and watching volleyball. I assured them they could play the game for a long time.

On sandy strip of beach in the summer of 1984, I was an international ambassador for volleyball played correctly.

It felt good.






The old boy writing this blog wears many hats: Vietnam Veteran, husband & father, salesman and techno-dude. After my service with the Army Security Agency, I operated a sign company for nineteen years, The sign industry changed after CAD/CAM machines made the task easy enough for the non-talented. I sold my company and never looked back.

Life has granted me a life partner better than I deserve. My wife, Lyn is a transplanted Kansas gal. Her bliss is teaching kindergarten and first grade.

I am the most proud of my children. My son, Adam lives an international life teaching English and living in Sozhou, China. He is married to one of life's truly lovely women, Yuri Kim. My daughter, Beth grew up in a small town and found her way in life means working and living in major cities like Chicago and New York. She and her life partner, Julie Sterling married in LaJolla, California in 2010.

I like getting the newest gadgets, but also I like to use things until they are useless, i.e., my last personal car was an 88 Honda Prelude Si.

I wrote a Vietnam Veteran newsletter for nine years. During this journey, I learned I like to write. It is a harmless exercise that rewards honest effort while tolerating failure gracefully. I been away from it for too long. My son gave me the blog, and it was a lifeline back to writing.

My best advice is to show the world what you can do but to accept only your opinion of who and what you are.

Update: In August 2008, my job became one of the half-million jobs that went away that month. I took the following year getting the home ready for my official retirement.

In October 2009, I took a part-time job as a saleman at the vaulted Maxwell's Hardware.

On November 29, 2011, I reached my 66th birthday, and I officially started Social Security. I intend to stay with Maxwell's as long as I can contribute.