No matter how high tech the world becomes, there is one basic piece of equipment on every fishing boat: the hammer. drawing of old hammer

My wife, Irene, assures me that the hammer was one of the earliest inventions and that it was invented by a fisherman’s wife; a frustrated woman who really thought her husband should get a job up the hill at Igor’s arrowhead factory. This same lady mentioned to her husband from time to time, that all of the other men in the camp worked for Igor, and that she would really enjoy the convenience of having the parched corn with which Igor paid his men.

Since his jaw had started hurting, her husband had been obsessing about this thing he was trying to invent, something he called “the wheel”?? The wheel was the basis for a so-called “cart” he envisioned, that would allow his family to make the move from the summer fish camp on the beach, up to the winter camp, in only two “suns”. It had always taken at least as many suns as he had fingers. After all, he wasn’t getting any younger. The cart would be a big help in the coming Fall, especially because he hadn’t felt well, with his jaw throbbing so.

Yes, the cart would be a big help, especially when bringing fish home from the fish wheel at night, and would really help the quality of the winter’s fish supply. However, it sure was a sticky problem, figuring out how to form the stones he had collected, into the shape he wanted. Besides that, the fellas at the arrowhead factory had taken up ribbing him about what he was doing rolling the huge rocks up from the river.

He had to wait for many suns to get an appointment with the new young Shaman to have his jaw checked. The Shaman had waved the jaw bone from a Saber Tooth Tiger over him and had determined that while it might feel like a toothache, it was actually just a case of “Phantom Tooth Syndrome”, and that it would pass in time. He found this comforting, and he left the Shaman’s office marveling at both the accuracy of the diagnosis and the price of the Cat Scan.

Arriving home after his appointment, his wife showed him that he could shape one of these “wheel things” from stone, by using something she’d been thinking of for some time, a thing she called a “hammer”. “The hammer is really just a stone with an attached handle.” she explained, “However, a hammer could strike much harder than a hand-held stone could because the long handle would allow the stone to travel much faster than their old method of holding the stone in a hand and hitting things with it!”

All he needed to do was to use the hammer against the big stones he had gathered, and he could quickly shape the stones to make the wheels. While his original design called for the wheels to be square, with a round hole in the center, his good wife had also explained that her mother, who lived with them, wouldn’t prefer to ride on a bumpy cart down to the river to do laundry. “Why”, she asked, “didn’t he make the wheels round, like the cross-section of a log, for a smooth ride?” “Besides this”, she explained, “A round wheel would have only one-tenth the inertia of the square wheel.”

square wheelHe explained, “The square wheel design would act as a built-in emergency brake when going down steep hills and would prevent the cart from getting ahead of the mastodon that was to pull the cart.” ” It would also prevent the cart’s leaving without the mastodon, on very steep hills!” He reminded her that his mastodon had no shortage of power and that the mastodon could easily overcome the high power requirement of the square wheels.

Yes, she knew the mastodon was very strong like he was, but wouldn’t it be better to keep the mastodon grinding meal? Then, by avoiding steep grades and using round wheels the cart could be pulled by one of the stray dogs in the camp?

“Won’t you just try this round style first?” she asked, and she then promised to get started on his favorite dish; boiled halibut smothered in marrow from deer bones…