by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
Doug Adams has been making keys for the customers at ACE Hardware on Center Street in Ashtabula since 1963. He likes what he does and, he says, looks forward to another day surrounded by parts for household appliances each morning.
I was there last week because the key I use to get into the kitchen at Saint Peter's Episcopal Church, just a short distance away, had leaped out of my hand into a bank of freezing snow earlier. I had to have that key to get into the kitchen so our crew could make the breakfast burritos planned for Sunday Breakfast. Three Sundays a month during the autumn, winter and spring crews show up and 'do' breakfast for the Neighborhood.
By the time I gave up on finding that key my gloves were soaked and my fingers were blue. Perhaps aliens had grabbed it.
A hasty trip to the church was thus necessitated where Margarite, our Church Secretary, loaned me a replacement, telling me ACE was the place to go. She also provided directions. Like so many others, I had been patronizing Walmart or one of the other 'box' stores in town when keys were needed.
Margarite told me Roger Smith, still missed, always went to ACE. I parked at the curb and walked in, there to meet Doug and Bill Steen.
It was a friendly experience along with being cheaper and faster.. Doug told me he's made tens of thousands of keys using the manual machine.
The whole experience reminded me of a visit to Wards Hardware on National Blvd, in West Los Angeles when I was a kid. Mr. Ward, who had been a Captain in the Third Army during the Battle of the Bulge in 1945, operated the key machine there. This would have been about the time Doug was getting his first eperience with the key machine at ACE in Ashtabula.
It was like stepping back in time to a very different era in America, one worth recapturing.
On Sunday morning the key worked like a charm. The five of us doing the fourth Sunday, The Breakfast Club, as we call ourselves, set up for the meal, stuffing sixy burritos with a savory blend of sausage, peppers, cilantro, salsa, and scrambled eggs. The aroma of coffee began to fill the dining hall and our patrons started filing in to sit down, waiting.
Tomorrow's memories being made.