I met Stephen back in the eighties when we were both involved with teaching motorcycle rider training in Kingston, Ontario. Despite he being Norton-centric and me with Japanese bikes we hit it off immediately, he had a offbeat sense of humour and enjoyed more than a little bit of silliness. He considered the telephone answering machine message a perfect platform for elaborate, ridiculous and humorous theatre. We both liked tools, junk stores, garage sales and in general old machinery.
Life went on, Diane and he raised a family of two boys and I went off to design school in Toronto. This was pre-internet days and maintaining contact was harder than it is now- but we kept in touch, mostly by sending each other photocopies or clippings intended to amuse, inform and entertain each other. He bought a mid-fifties Jubilee Ford tractor- apparently on my recommendation, I had just bought a 8N Ford, having admired them from childhood. Another connection and another subject to discuss.
At some point in the mid 2000s Stephen's emails, in between the banter, started to incorporate well-researched and entertaining stories documenting the details and history of some old tool or machine he had picked up at a thrift shop or garage sale, I read them and could not bear to delete or dispose of something that had obviously taken a great deal of effort. As these started to accumulate in my inbox, I decided to save them in a blog- without telling him. As the postings grew, I let him know what I was doing- gave him the link and offered three choices, if he absolutely hated it I'd delete them, if he was tolerant of me just saving them in that format, I'd continue to post them- or if he wanted to I'd give him permissions and he could post whenever he had something to post. Initially, as a grumpy old guy set in his ways, he absolutely refused to take part in this new technology, however he soon got used to the idea and once started, joined in enthusiastically, making two posts a day, good solid researched articles- which totally eclipsed my infrequent posts usually consisting of scanned images from old books and magazines- or photos I had taken of anything that interested me. He was the heart of the blog.
Here we are 7 years and 12 days later... 7839 posts online and we're currently approaching two million views- 1,974,465 views today... (A sincere thank you to all our viewers and commenters)- all on the subject of what amounts to "old rusty crap" from our industrial and transportation history, it still amazes me.
Thank you Dr. Dukoff, for all the camaraderie, banter and interesting valuable information you've provided over all these years. We'll miss you. Godspeed.
|David, The Duke (center) and me (right); a Halloween a long time ago...|