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 home >> mary sheppard burton collection >> view all rugs >> commentary

When Pa Was Young - The Tool Fetcher
Edward Sampson Phipps

Image: Rug 2 - When Pa Was Young - The Tool Fetcher
When Pa Was Young - The Tool Fetcher
Edward Sampson Phipps
Tell Me ‘Bout Series, 1993.
Dimensions: 32.5" X 46.5", 10.5 square feet
Hooked on twelve thread count linen; Hand-dyed wool strips cut on 3/32" and 5/32" wheel.
Views: 800px - 1024px - Zoom

Commentary by Mary Sheppard Burton

Edward Sampson Phipps had a great name, for, as Sampson in the Bible, he was really, really strong. He was your Great Grandpa, but everyone called him Pa. When weather was warm enough to stand the very swift cold Susquehanna River currents, Pa would spend his summers diving for the tools that were dropped from the bridge by builders working above. He dove from a bridge abutment or barge and saved much money, since tools were expensive, and his willingness to brave the cold waters was greatly appreciated. Pa worked the river for four or five years. All who watched him dive were amazed because he could go to great depths and usually came back with sledges, saws, hammers, hats and whatever treasure the river yielded. All who watched Pa work respected' his abilities, enjoyed his stories, and made Pa feel really proud of himself.

Pa was a country boy who grew like the corn. It was hard to keep him in shoes. I don't know what they did 'bout the latter problem, but he loved his family, his little home and his little wife, Mary Frances. Pa had reason to be a proud man.

In this rug, Pa can be seen in his "work clothes" as he dove into the water from the bridge abutment. The partially built bridge is seen in the upper left area. A barge is being ferried across the river by river porters. The two engineers are watching the "Tool Fetcher" as Concord Light flashes warnings to sailing ships that are 'bout to leave the Bay and enter the Susquehanna.

"Footsteps on History: Tell Me 'Bout Series"
Family Portraits by Mary Sheppard Burton. Undated


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   May 15, 2015
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