COLUMBUS _ The phone rang
and Buddy ran to check the caller
``It’s Uncle Chet!’’ he announced.
``Answer it,’’ I said from the living room, where I was tinkering with an old amplifier.
The boy said hello, and I waited.
``He says you can’t buy a waffle iron in Utica.’’
``An American-made waffle iron,’’ said Buddy, half into the phone, half to me.
``He says he tried three stores.’’ ``Here, let me talk to him.’’ I took the cordless handset.
``Did you know you can’t buy an American-made waffle iron anymore?’’ Uncle Chet announced.
``I thought you had a waffle iron,’’ I said.
``That’s Teflon- coated, and it smells when it warms up,’’ he said.
``Alice hates it, so we thought we’d get an old-fashioned, cast-iron one.’’
``And use it on the stove?’’
``Right, like Grandma used to.’’
``They’re the best kind,’’ I said.
``They still make ’em, but not America,’’ he said, ``and I’m not buying anything made in China.’’
``What do you have against the Chinese?’’ I asked.
``Nothing,’’ he said. ``It’s those traitors who moved our factories over there that I’m mad at.’’
``That, I agree with,’’ I said.
``So I’m not buying anything from a company that pretends to be American but has its factory overseas,’’ he said. ``The only way we’re going to bring jobs back here is to refuse to buy anything not made here, and I mean food, clothing, Sheetrock, you name it. If it isn’t made in the USA, I’m not putting a dollar toward it.’’
``Great idea, but you’re going to go barefoot this winter,’’ I said.
``No. New Balance sells American- made shoes.’’
``Yes. And Lodge is our last castiron cookware maker, but they don’t make waffle irons,’’ Uncle Chet said.
``Then get a used one, off eBay,’’ I suggested.
``Now there’s an idea,’’ he said.
``Hey, that’s an excellent idea.’’
``Now, how do we get everyone to buy American?’’ he asked.
``Get Obama to do it,’’ I said, ``although right now, he’s up to his neck in health care reform.’’
``We need ‘wealth care’ reform even more than health care reform,’’ Uncle Chet said, ``and the way to do it is to bring good-paying jobs here.
Manufacturing jobs; union jobs; jobs with benefits and security like in first-world countries _ like we used to have in our heyday in the fifties.’’
``Those were the days,’’ I said.
``When we led the world in manufacturing, workers were middleclass.
Two parents didn’t have to work; one could support a family.
But the upper class didn’t like that and launched a class war,’’ Uncle Chet said. ``They moved their factories to cheap labor markets, fattened their pockets and the American wage slave was sold down the river, where his kind of people don’t get jobs with security, pension and benefits.’’
``There’s a ring of truth there,’’ I said.
``All I’m saying is let’s fight back. Don’t buy anything from economic traitors. Buy American, wherever possible.’’
``They’re going to say you’re loony.’’
``Either we act now, while the American consumer still has clout, or the middle class is finished.’’
``You’re going to run up against the `free trade’ argument _ how our industries want to sell abroad, so we have to let others sell here,’’ I said.
``That argument is baloney, because we don’t make much of anything anymore,’’ Uncle Chet said. ``Today, I had money in my wallet and I was ready to spend it on an American-made waffle iron.
But from coast to coast, not a single American foundry makes them, and no one’s going to until we demand it.’’
Cooperstown News Bureau Reporter Tom Grace is traveling with his Uncle Chet, who he says is imaginary. Grace’s column appears every other week.
COLUMBUS _ The phone rang
and Buddy ran to check the caller
- Tom Grace
The future of news: video on the Internet
COLUMBUS _ "Well, I'm going to do it, retire tomorrow," I told Uncle Chet last Thursday, then pulled on the thick braided wire that ran up and down the chimney.
Uncle Chet advises little miscreant
COLUMBUS _ The little miscreant is off to college this month, and we had a dinner in her honor at Uncle Chet and Aunt Alice's log cabin Sunday.
Here's to everyone paying their fair share
COLUMBUS _ Buddy and I were working on the woodpile at Uncle Chet's house, stacking about 10 face cord of pungent ash, maple and cherry. The sun was beating down, and the pine needles crackled underfoot. Everything around us was tinder dry, that is, except the wood we were moving.
Easy fixes for education, drilling debate
COLUMBUS _ "I know how to resolve this fracking controversy," Uncle Chet said, then sipped his second glass of red wine.
Handicapping the 2012 race in a dust cloud
COLUMBUS _ The little miscreant was graduating from high school, going to college. We were having a party here in just four days, but we were power-sanding in the kitchen, making a dust cloud that filled the room, coating everything as it sank to the floor.
- Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Spackle can only do so much to fix problems
COLUMBUS _ "This ceiling reminds me of my face," Uncle Chet said, standing on the eight-foot stepladder, cutting in with a sash brush.
- Tuesday, May 31, 2011
The rich are getting richer, more powerful
COLUMBUS _ "You know, there's only one thing wrong with the world," Uncle Chet paused, then dropped a log onto the stack.
- Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Facing down the dreaded colonoscopy
Colonoscopy. Cousin Bruce talked me into it. He's a decade younger and if he was doing it, then coming from the same gene pool, so should I, I reasoned in February and made an appointment.
- Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Wounds left by Osama still healing
COLUMBUS _ We were lying down, reading, ready for lights out when the phone rang late Sunday night. I looked at the caller I.D. before answering, "You're too old to be up at this hour."
- Tuesday, April 19, 2011
The rich are thriving in country's class warfare
We sat in the basement cafeteria Friday night, eating off sectioned plastic trays, as students have done for generations.
- Tuesday, April 5, 2011
There's still one job we haven't shipped overseas
"Where are the French?" Uncle Chet asked from across the table where we were having coffee.
- Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Obama strikes oil with assault on Libya
We were on our way to the dump Saturday, three across the bench seat, when we heard the news.
- Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Caught between tanking dollar, rising oil prices
COLUMBUS _ "Got to get some wood in; it's gonna snow," I said as I rose from the couch Saturday afternoon.
- Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Conversation on the trail to rock stardom
SCRANTON, PA. _ It was a cool, sunny morning in late February, and we were tooling down Interstate 81 in the silver pickup.
- Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Cheney's chum about to get his walking papers
The snow piles were becoming tall white walls and the paths between them were narrowing as we cleared the driveway again Sunday morning.
- Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Taxing wealthy would give us rich future
COLUMBUS _ "The state of the union is deplorable, and I hope he says so, because we ought to do something about it," Uncle Chet said, then lowered an armful of logs into the wood box.
- Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Poll will show what people are thinking
COLUMBUS _ "I have to go, but I want to do it myself," Buddy announced from the recliner.
- Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Target within sight; summit within reach
It was snowing and windy, and the road was icy, running between desolate, snow-covered fields in the town of Plainfield. We were climbing a long hill, up in God's country, looking for a microwave tower.
- Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Tax deal will help rich get richer
"Dear Mr. President: "Your tax deal with the Republicans is an abomination.
- Tuesday, November 30, 2010
GOP's denial is all about bottom line
COLUMBUS _ The little chair was a blessing to the back, but the pipe at the front of the canvas seat pressed under my knees, and my legs were numbing.
- The future of news: video on the Internet