Thursday, February 03, 2011


When our parents passed away, neither Bernie nor I inherited an empire or a large fortune. But we have had passed on to us some lovely items - not necessarily valuable - that we regard as family treasures.

One such item is "the magnet."
When my mother died, she left all of her estate to be divided equally between my sister and me. In the days following her death, my sister's husband asked us what we would each like from our mother's estate....and with almost one voice, we both replied instantly "The fuse wire and the magnet!"
Now, the reel of fuse wire had been in our home as long as I could remember. It may well have been used for its real purpose, but as children, my sister and I used to make wonderful things from it, including little "springs", which were produced by wrapping the wire tightly around things like pencils and knitting needles.
The magnet had appeared around the time I was about ten or eleven. My father worked at a place called "Austral Bronze", which did things with metal(not sure what). One day he came home with this very solid and heavy horseshoe magnet. I think it had originally been bolted to a piece of machinery, but had broken into two pieces.
Now a magnet in two pieces is much more fun than a single piece, because you can play with the attraction and resistance of the two poles.
I clearly recall the time when I was sick in bed, and my mother called the doctor. Doctor Grace paid little attention to me and my illness, but he had great fun moving bobby pins and paper clips up and down the surface of the door, by running the magnet on the other side!
Anyway, after my mother's funeral, I came home to Norfolk Island with half of the magnet, which gives a special meaning to inheriting half of her estate!
The other day, William and I were reading a "Science" book, and I remembered the magnet. I use it as a pincushion, just like my mother did.

I found a few miscellaneous metal items for him to play with, and then I brought out one of my tins of metal buttons. William had great fun....but it turned out that fewer than 5% of those buttons were actually real metal, of the sort that would cling to a magnet!

Nevertheless, William had the most enormous fun, especially when he discovered you can magnetise other metal objects. That old magnet, which has been in our family for well over 50 years, is still as strong and powerful as ever.

He also loved the effect of the shiny buttons hanging on the magnet, and declared that it would make a lovely decoration for the tree next Christmas!

When Charles came to pick William up, he was keen to show his Dad what he had been playing with. Charles recalled many happy hours playing with that same magnet when he was a young boy staying at Nana's house.
So that family magnet has amused four generations! And hopefully the other half is amusing the continuing generations of my sister's family!

1 comment:

Cristina Rose said...

I bet Grandad would never had imagined how much joy a broken magnet could bring to his 2 girls, 10 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren!
We all have amazing fond memories of the Magnet and the blue metal tin full of buttons.
I think I now understand my obsession to make things with wire ☺

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