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Letter to the Editor

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A man who got things done

Every community in the rural areas have their folks who stand out as people who “get things done.” I would like to celebrate the loss of my friend, Larry Waits, much more than a welder; he was the strongest man I ever knew, in mind and body. I think we should do honor to all the quiet men and women who brighten the lives of all of us with their exceptional abilities to dream, design, and through hard work and long hours to patiently acquire the heavy manual expertise it requires to take hard steel and turn it into a working machine. 

To me, well-executed weldments of a torch are to be more valued than any sports figure when all is said and done. Often times, there are accidents, sometimes blood, burns and broken bones as well. Dreamers may be valued assets for their own innovation, but if no one brings the project to fruition, it is just another pipe dream. 

This is until, a skilled and practical person, a “doer,” is found to make it so. These are the people who live by making things most of us cannot, applying the practical and producing the reality. What is often forgotten, are the countless years of patience to harness their desire, and train the hand to the maker’s eye. I remember how, from my rude sketch, Larry Waits took that piece of paper, studied it, thought on it and said he could do it. 

What I had asked for was my version of a farming implement that to this point has not been commercially available. It is called a Roller-Crimper, and is used to crush tall grass as a preparation to inhibit weed growth in no-till farming. First introduced from South America, very few have been made here. 

What I got was Larry’s version and it works fine, because he made it as he saw fit. Every piece that needed to be round was round and every piece that had to be flat and straight was flat and straight. There are no stray “oopsies” on the weldments and it is a pleasure to use.

Another task for him was to fabricate, from an old molasses tank, a steel chamber to oxidize raw organic wood waste products to their pure carbon form by roasting. The end product is then applied to the topsoil, and beneficial fungi collect within the pores of the carbonized wood. 

This process has been termed terra-preta (black earth) in honor of the Amazonian Indians who used this to preserve the soils fertility for more than 1,000 years. Larry Waits built it, and it works like a charm.

My wife Marge asked Larry for a trellis to hold up the vines, they will last for generations.

Larry Waits will be missed, and in our hearts, he shall always be among the great men and women of the often unsung heroes and heroines that make our world go ‘round. We need more of that stout ilk.


Marge and O.C. Smith


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