Growing up with a farmer dad, I thought every farmer had a Vise Grip on his belt loop, held in a brown leather holder, always at the ready.
The Vise Grip was actually invented in Nebraska, and they aren’t really called Vise Grips. Like Kleenex, it’s a name brand. They’re really called locking pliers, and I find their history inspiring today on this, the shortest day of the year.
William Peterson was a blacksmith in Dewitt, Nebraska. In 1921 he filed a patent, one that doesn’t really look like Vise Grips. It has the turning mechanism at the bottom, but not the lock. The clamp at the top angled around on a hinge instead of moving out straight.
In 1924, he filed a patent again, this time with the locking mechanism that makes such a tight seal that Vise Grips are used for so many purposes. There’s even an elderly woman in a rural Nebraska area who uses them to open her milk container each morning, her knuckles too arthritic to do it alone.
The point is, that in 1921, William Paterson didn’t realize he was making milk openers. So what if today on this shortest day of the year, we look back and realize that any “failures” in this past year are more examples where we “filed that first patent,” times where we tried something new–even if it didn’t really work? The first patent is actually a required step on the road to success. The Model T car was actually the letter T in the alphabet. Henry Ford started with a Model A and then a Model B and went from there.
We can’t get to T without A first. So begin. Begin something. Try again at that something that didn’t go quite right. Who knows, the next iteration might be the one that sings. After today, the days are getting longer, a great chance to start again.
- Teacher food day. 🙂
- Seeing a student writing longer and stronger than he ever has during a final exam
- Twinkle lights in the library.