Everyday Stuff

American Classics: The Push Reel Mower

(I admit it – not the sort of topic you’d expect at TAC.  But maybe American Classics can be a new meme for TAC contributors?)

A blog I’ve discovered recently, and added to my reader, is The Art of Manliness.  I wouldn’t be surprised if several, if not most, of the contributors to TAC read it regularly.  It’s mission:  To revive the lost art of manliness.  Now, that has different meanings for different people – to me, I sense that the author and his many guest contributors want to expound upon iconic masculine ideas and interests.  From a photo essay on getting a straight-razor shave at the local barber, to leadership lessons from Gen Dwight D Eisenhower.  From what to wear on your first date, to how to tie a necktie.  They focus on virtues and integrity and traditional mores, and while not everything they publish interests me, I have to say that everything they publish is interesting.

All this to say, I found it timely that they wrote an article titled In Praise Of The Push Reel Mower, earlier this week.

I was in the market to buy a new lawnmower.  My previous model, a gas-powered self-propelled Honda (with bagging and/or mulching options) had serviced me well over the years, but two summers ago, the cable that operated the self-propelling feature snapped.  And the bag was showing signs of serious wear and tear.  Then, a customer service girl at one of the companies I represent mentioned to me that her lawn mower died, and she needed a new one, but she was bummed because she was broke.  So I offered her mine, informing her of its problems – albeit minor ones – but she gladly accepted it anyway.  Now I was committed to replacing it.

I had my eyes set on a model offered at the local Menard’s.  But then….

…then I read the above-mentioned article.  And my mind was changed, then and there.  I bought a push reel mower yesterday, and used it straight away.  So what was it that persuaded me to buy it, when just days before, I was ready to purchase a power mower?

Pure nostalgia wasn’t what convinced me – I grew up in the 10th Ward in Rochester NY – modest middle class homes with city-sized yards, and my dad owned a push reel mower that he *graciously* allowed his sons to use every Saturday.  To be honest, I was envious of my friends who used power mowers, but my father was insistent.  He wasn’t obsessive about how the lawn looked, as small as it was (we were, after all, allowed to play football and Rush the Bulldog on it), but he preferred the cut that the push reel mower provided.

My decision was based on common sense, with a little bit of virtue thrown in.  I’ll list the reasons given by the author why he considered it (in bold), and add a bit of commentary here and there. Continue reading

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