I took a trophy to a local engraving store last week and as I opened the squeaking wood and glass door, to my right was an old vintage engraving machine which, by the look of the rust on its cast iron legs, had been neglected for many years. The old engraver stood behind a small counter, smiling over the rim of a pair of old fashion eye-glasses with lenses that resembled Cocoa Cola bottles. I moved toward him and pulling the trophy from my back pack, asked how much it would cost to have it engraved with a person’s name. He rubbed the stubble on his chin and pondered for a few minutes.
I looked back at the engraving machine and noticed it was one of the many CNC engraving machines seen long ago in large engraving companies. The old man broke into my thoughts and told me the price. I nodded and asked how long it would take. Two days he responded without a second thought. Again I nodded and handed him a slip of paper with the person’s name written on it. He accepted it with a grubby hand and read the name, “Henderson, Patrick Henderson”.
Zipping up my bag, I began to back out of the store. As I moved toward the door; he was watching me through his Cocoa Cola glasses. I stopped and looked closely at the old engraving machine. “Is this one of those old CNC engraving machines that were used in the 40’s?” I asked. He removed his glasses and smiling, with apparent delight, he nodded. “Yep, it belonged to my father and grandfather before him. It’s getting pretty rusty, I don’t have time to maintain it,” he had moved around the counter and was standing next to me; his eyes transfixed on the vintage contraption. We talked for an hour and I learned that he had been an engraver since leaving high school back in the 1960s; it was good to see an old man smile.