Appalachia

When You Need a Plumb-Bob

man using a home made plumb bob

The other day I was helping The Deer Hunter on a job. We were just getting started and he realized he’d forgot to bring a plumb-bob with him for making sure things were straight.

Before I knew what happened he’d taken a boot string out of a pair of snake boots he had in the truck, tied a wrench to one end and made his own plumb-bob.

man using homemade plumb bob

He said “How do like that?” I said “I like it a lot and I would never have thought of making it.”

The Deer Hunter said he learned the trick from Pap way back in the day when they first started building houses together.

Tipper

p.s. This weekend The Pressley Girls will be playing at:

  • Saturday May 25, 2019 @ 10:15 a.m. Swain County Heritage Festival – Bryson City NC
  • Saturday May 25, 2019 @ 6:00 p.m. Martins Creek Community Center – Murphy NC

bowl of vegetables

Come cook with me!

MOUNTAIN FLAVORS – TRADITIONAL APPALACHIAN COOKING
Location: John C. Campbell Folk School – Brasstown, NC
Date: Sunday, June 23 – Saturday, June 29, 2019
Instructors: Carolyn Anderson, Tipper Pressley

Experience the traditional Appalachian method of cooking, putting up, and preserving the bounty from nature’s garden. Receive hands-on training to make and process a variety of jellies, jams, and pickles for winter eating. You’ll also learn the importance of dessert in Appalachian culture and discover how to easily make the fanciest of traditional cakes. Completing this week of cultural foods, a day of bread making will produce biscuits and cornbread. All levels welcome.

Along with all that goodness Carolyn and I have planned a couple of field trips to allow students to see how local folks produce food for their families. The Folk School offers scholarships you can go here to find out more about them. For the rest of the class details go here.

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16 Comments

  • Reply
    Tamela Baker
    May 27, 2019 at 6:03 pm

    Please pass on to Don C: you quoted one of my favorite hymns. I am constantly surprised by how few know it.

    For A.W. Griff : I always thought a plumb line or plumb bob was something you rigged up yourself. Especially when hanging paper I’d snitch a large nut from hubby’s or Dad’s collection and put it on a string. I was just dumbfounded when I first saw one all packaged up in one of those box stores – couldn’t help thinking why a body would waste money on something like that!

  • Reply
    Tmc
    May 25, 2019 at 5:59 pm

    I always had things to do around the house growing up, Daddy took the time to show me things that later on in life I could remember how it was done, or little tricks of the trade some call it, when I was a little older say 13yrs I started working some with a Farmer who grew hay and had cows and chickens houses, he even had cucumbers in a 5 acre field one time and we picked cucumbers to sell to a pickling company that year, I actually helped build his first broiler Chicken house one summer and after school, you learn a lot from folks that have been around the road a time or two, and know doubt Pap had and was willing to show a young man how to compromise when you need to get a job done. Simple things go along way, I watched a young man in our crew that didn’t even know how to use a Crescent wrench his Dad never took the time to show him or didn’t know how himself (sad) but he knew how to swing a bat, growing up. This same young man (married with kids) was using a drill one day and the drill was running backward and I just stood there waiting to see how long it took for him to realize that the bit was going the wrong way, he finally broke the bit putting so much pressure on the drill, ( Just plain sad).

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    May 25, 2019 at 2:52 pm

    Tipper, God gave me two talented men like your hubby they can seemly do anything they set out to do. You came from a dear talented family as well. Seeing some of the jewelry your daughters are making and all the musict ability as well. We are so blessed to have Tipper.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 24, 2019 at 5:08 pm

    I have an antique “Plumb” axe. I don’t think Plumb didn’t make adjustable wrenches. Maybe Matt’s is a “Crescent” which would make what he contrived a “Crescent-Bob”.
    My axe doesn’t have a handle so I think I’ll rig it up with a bootstrap and have a real “Plumb-Bob”.
    Just kidding! A man doesn’t have ask of others if he is equipped with multiple talents of his own. Ingenuity trumps engineering every time.

  • Reply
    carol
    May 24, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    Hi Tippper….great post…..but tell me what are ‘Snake Boots’?

    • Reply
      Tipper
      May 24, 2019 at 8:25 pm

      Carol-snake boots are tall boots that protect your ankles and shins from snakes 🙂 But mostly they protect them from briars and heavy brush since snakes don’t go around attacking 🙂

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    May 24, 2019 at 1:05 pm

    He’s a smart person! I do believe this kind of thinking is getting more uncommon. My husband is hooked on the program “Naked and Afraid” and I’m always yelling. “Boil those bones, you nincompoop!’

  • Reply
    PinnacleCreek
    May 24, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    Jack of all trades used to be very common in Appalachia. Unfortunately, it seems to be limited to those over 30. It is a gift, but is also learned from need.

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    May 24, 2019 at 11:25 am

    Tipper , after my first husband death I wanted to have a heat pump installed the man said I would have to enclose my basement stair so I got all the material to enclose the wall I had the steps enclosed and paneled on and My brother came up and saw the enclosure said he wanted to know who did it, I proudly said I did . Then he said sis how did you know how I said by watching you and hubby so long then he ask if I plumb ball it and I teased and said looks plum good to me . (He grinned and proceeded to help me with the door

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    May 24, 2019 at 10:22 am

    The best part of that picture had nothing to do with Matt coming up with the plumb bob.

    It was what he was doing with the plumb-wrench – helping another.

    Others, Lord yes others,
    May this my motto be.
    Help me to live for others
    That I might live like Thee.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    May 24, 2019 at 10:10 am

    Tipper,
    Matt can fix most anything, my daddy was like that. With 6 boys to contend with, as Cindy said, we would have starved to death. Matt use to work with his daddy, Tony. Little did he know, that Matt was paying attention to how he worked. At Pap’s funeral Cindy told me where Tony was and I went and had a talk with him and Nana. We hit it off pretty well and I told him about living in Georgia right after I got married, and that Deer Hunting was popular in Putnam County where I hunted. …Ken

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    May 24, 2019 at 8:05 am

    Miss Cindy, Henry Ford is quoted as having said, “Thinking is hard work. That is why so few do it.”

    I wish I was inventive like the Deer Hunter. I do a lot of thinking about how to do various things but I don’t usually figure them out. Sometimes I do but not like my Dad did for example.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    May 24, 2019 at 7:42 am

    Tipper–Matt’s approach forms a mighty fine example of “make do with what you’ve got.” Of all Daddy’s traits and characteristics I look back on with loving longing, this was perhaps his finest. He never threw anything away (“I might need it sometime”) and he could cobble together or repair pretty much anything by taking exactly the kind of mindset Matt exemplified with his makeshift plumb bob. Br’er Don, who is a trained professional engineer with two degrees and a bunch of patents to prove it, has often said that Daddy was a far better practical engineer than he could ever hope to be.

    It’s heartening to know that, thanks to folks like Matt, the old mountain way of making do is alive and well.

    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    May 24, 2019 at 7:32 am

    Neat trick. Who would have thought. You are blessed, as am I, to have a man that can do most anythng.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    May 24, 2019 at 7:23 am

    I’ve done that. I think the last one I made was a large nut off a bolt.
    Thanks Ed. Bobwarr looks right to me.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 24, 2019 at 6:59 am

    The Deer Hunter is clever like that! He just stops and studies on it a minute and has a solution to the problem of the moment. I’ve met very few people who will take the time to think about something. In fact thinking may be becoming a lost art. If the old people hadn’t had it they wouldn’t have survived.
    Pap was also one of those people who could fix anything!

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