Chandler: (n) a dealer in supplies and equipment for ships and boats.

Looking back, I realize my oldest brother was a chandler. He was only in his twenties when he decided to open a marina. He sold boats, fixed boats, tied boats, and also sold boating equipment.

I remember as a young man, being very impressed, surprised and intimidated by his success. (My greatest success at that time was getting two A’s in a row in
chemistry–neither of which I deserved.)

My oldest brother was a chandler. I do not know if he loved boats or not. I don’t recall him talking incessantly about watercraft. He did like to fish.

But what prompted him to take the big leap of faith in his youthful years, to establish such a business for the folks who wanted to sail the waters of Hoover Lake, near Columbus, Ohio? (We called it a lake–actually, it was a reservoir.)

My brother ran his business for several years, and then a bigshot came to town with more boats, more equipment, more floor space, more advertising, and more of whatever more will buy. My brother could not keep up. He lost his business.

He was a determined man of discipline and taut feelings. If he was truly devastated, he never let anyone know–at least, not me.

But he never quite found anything to replace his marina. Perhaps it was a chandler he was intended to be–and by intended, I mean desired. Once that was gone, he found himself selecting from Column B.

Yes, perhaps that’s where we all lose our zest for life–wearily thumbing through Column B to try to find something that comes anywhere close to what we once had in Column A.

Yet it feels good, now that my brother has passed on, to write this small article and tout him as the chandler he was.

I think he would like that.



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dictionary with letter A

Aluminum: (n) the chemical element of atomic number 13, a light silvery-gray metal, the most abundant metal in the earth’s crust, obtained mainly from bauxite

It is amazing how words, ideas and concepts are all related to our personal experience rather than the reality of what they may be.

For after all, hearing the word aluminum, I might think of cans of soda, which I certainly have enjoyed over the years.

I might conjure an image of aluminum siding, which permeated the thinking of my townfolk growing up, as everyone deliberated whether it was a good alternative to the peeling paint on their wooden homes or the crumbling mortar on their brick ones.

But for me the word “aluminum” has an entirely different representation.

When I was a kid I lived in a household where various plans were hatched to attempt to make extra money or projects were pursued which were deemed worthy of our attention because they were new and innovative.

For instance, my dad bought a piece of multi-colored plastic which he was convinced could be placed over our television set to give the illusion of color TV without having to buy one of those more expensive brands. But of course, all it did was make the picture appear like fruit-striped gum.

Likewise, somewhere along the line my dad devised a plan to build a storehouse for boats to be held during the winter months in Ohio, when things were not sea-worthy. (Or since Ohio is landlocked, shall we say “lake-worthy?”)

This was an investment. And I remember that the main part of the investment involved purchasing huge sheets of corrugated aluminum to place on the building to protect it from the elements.

Well, here’s what happened. My dad laid the foundation for the warehouse, put up the boards for the framing and ran out of money before all of the aluminum could be attached. Even though he did put a couple of ships into the lean-to, it was never completed, and piles of the aluminum material were stacked nearby. They seemed to stay there forever.

Matter of fact, they remained long enough to become the home for all sorts of vermin: spiders, rats, possum, raccoons–any number of less-than-fortunate creatures from the animal kingdom did their wintering underneath the pile of my dad’s ignored aluminum.

So to this day, I cannot hear the word “aluminum” without a chill traveling down my spine … as I wonder what’s going to crawl out and bite me.