Old Shovel 1By Bill Vogrin

Today, I retired an old friend . . . my snow shovel.

Every winter since 1980, this shovel and I have been my close companion on snowy mornings.

I acquired it in my junior year at the University of Kansas in Lawrence during a particularly bad winter on Mount Oread.

I pushed it up and down the sidewalk outside 1209 Oread Avenue, where I rented for two years, and took it with me as I began my journalism career in Kansas City, Mo. Then it followed me to Topeka, Kan., Peoria, Ill., and finally Colorado Springs.

It would sit in the garage for months at a time, ignored as lawn mowers and weed eaters, garden hoes and trimmers took its place as the preferred tools of the season.

Then winter winds would howl and the driveway would be coated in ice and snow and, suddenly, my old shovel, a little more rusty and its paint flaking, was back in my gloved hands ready to push away the white and chip away the frozen.

Over the years I replaced broken wooden handles. And I filed off corners that became dog-eared and bent from years of pounding ice.

Heaven only knows how many hours and miles I walked with this shovel. Enough to shave down its steel edge several inches until it reached the bracket and wore through the rivet holding it together.

I even replaced that with screws a couple times. But it has become so worn it can’t be fixed.

So today, I went out and bought a gleaming new shovel – a True Tempered aluminum model with a shiny, yellow plastic handle and sleek curves — as a blizzard is predicted for tonight. But it will never replace my trusty old shovel.

I took the wood handle off my old shovel, but I can’t bring myself to throw the steel blade away. I hung it in my garage over my work bench in a place of honor near the emergency stop button from the old printing press at The Gazette.

That shovel and I marched into battle together countless times over the decades, fighting the worst storms Mother Nature could throw at us. We froze together and it always cleared a path. I’m gonna miss it.

Thanks, old friend.

Old Shovel 2