Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The most important member of the Community: THE BLACKSMITH

In the days gone by the doctor and blacksmith were the most important members of the community. Folks generally needed medical help.....such as it least occasionally, but they needed a blacksmith frequently.

A blacksmith is a master iron worker who creates and repairs everything from agricultural implements to cooking essentials, to weapons, to furniture, to grills, railings and sculpture.  Contrary to popular belief, a blacksmith does not shoe horses, though he or she may make horse shoes.  A person who shoes horses is a  farrier .

Blacksmiths primarily work with wrought iron and steel  The "black" in blacksmith refers to the black layer of oxide that forms on the surface of the metal as it's heating. "Smith" comes from "smite" which means to hit.  A blacksmith therefore is a person who hits black metal.  

Conversely, a white smith works with light-colored metals like tin or pewter.  And unlike blacksmiths who work mostly with hot metal, white smiths do most of their work on cold metal.

Peter Hafen, blacksmith at the Mt. Pleasant Relic Home likes to tell the story behind the special apron that he-----like all blacksmiths since King Arthur --- wears.

It seems that King Arthur gathered his craftsmen for a dinner celebration, to thank them for their contributions to his household. As they entered the great hall, they were instructed to seat themselves according to the level of their importance, with those who made the most significant contribution nearest the King.

Arthur then asked the men nearest to him what his contribution was.  The man replied "why sir, I am your tailor.  I make the fine robes that you're wearing and those beautiful tapestries hanging upon your wall". 

Arthur thanked the tailor and asked the same question of the next man.  "I am a goldsmith", he replied. "I made the beautiful platter that you eat from and the fine goblet that you drink from.  I even made the gold thread in the tailor's tapestries."

Next was the cook, the stone mason and the carpenter, all of whom sang their loud praises.  Finally Arthur reached the blacksmith.

"What have you contributed to my palace" Arthur asked.  "Not much", replied the blacksmith, who was seated farthest from the King. "I made the hinges for your doors, your majesty, but not much else".  

Arthur who was known as a wise and insightful man, returned to his seat.  After a few minutes, he leaned over to the tailor and said, "Tell me sir, where do you scissors and needles come from?"

"Why from the blacksmith, Sir."

Arthur questioned the next man, "Goldsmith, your hammer and stakes, where do you get them from?" The Goldsmith replied, "Sir, I get them from the blacksmith."

And so it went, back around the table, until Arthur once again reached the blacksmith.  "Sir, I make my own tools, and those of others.

Arthur exclaimed, "Blacksmith  your hammer and hand, all crafts do stand, You should be seated closest to the King".

The humble blacksmith who had just come from his forge and was still wearing his apron, was embarrassed in unseating the tailor.  And the tailor, it is said was livid.  Determined to extract revenge, he crawled beneath the table with his scissors and cut a slash in the front of the blacksmith's apron.

After the banquet ended, the blacksmith noticed the cut in the apron and immediately understood who  had made it.  But he continued to wear the apron and when asked why there was a slash to it, he would reply, "The tailor gave me that in recognition of my services". And that is why, Peter says, blacksmith aprons are slashed in the front.

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Genealogy Quote

"In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage - to know who we are and where we have come from."

~Alex Haley

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