In honor of Stonie’s recent passing, I’m re-posting this blog entry about him. I’m still in shock. I hope that wherever he is now, he has a motorcycle and an open road.
November 23, 2012:
Yesterday, my sweetheart and I took a little break from the hustle and bustle of preparing for our Thanksgiving guests to go visit our friend “Stonie”. Stonie is a welder who does jobs from my sweetheart from time to time, and on this occasion he had completed fixing a barbecue smoker that we had brought to him.
Stonie is a character that deserves his own television show. Those guys from “Duck Dynasty” and “Swamp People” can’t hold a candle to Stonie. When you drive up to Stonie’s “Compound” you are greeted with the following sign.
Something about his demeanor tells you he’s not kidding. He speaks in a low, throaty, grumble through his long graying handlebar mustache. His statements are eloquently punctuated with profanity while he displays a quirky grin on his weathered face. From time to time, maybe about every tenth expletive, he apologizes for his language.
He doesn’t pull any punches with what he says either. He is matter of fact, and to the point, and he means every word. If he tells you he’ll charge you $100 for a job and it will take a day, you can return the next day with a hundred-dollar-bill. And if he says that if so-and-so ever sets foot on his land again he’ll fill ‘em full of lead, he means that, too.
Stonie is the first to tell you that he doesn’t do anything for free. He recognizes that his time and his talents are valuable. When dropping off the smoker, my sweetheart witnessed a gentleman pull up with a panel for his truck, and ask Stonie if he could put a hole in the metal so he would be able to bolt it on. Stonie considered this for a minute and said, “Fifteen bucks.” The man agreed and Stonie started up his acetylene torch, blowing a perfect hole in the metal in a few seconds. He then collected his fifteen dollars and his happy customer went on his merry way. While we were there, he commented that he was going to help his neighbor move a dresser out of their home later that day… for ten dollars.
On his compound is an RV that has had the engine removed and a hitch welded to the front that is his quarters. The headlights and grille have been removed and replaced with plywood, and a large expanse of carpet lays outside the door protecting him from the encroachment of weeds and such. Inside the RV lounges his huge Himalayan Persian cat who has won five national best in show titles and who eagerly and politely greets all visitors and a soft meow and a friendly disposition.
Protecting the RV from view is a large steel container that is secured with no fewer than four heavy padlocks. Inside is Stonie’s “man cave”, an homage to his prized Harley Davidson and his history as a member of a “motorcycle club.”
Skulls are an important motif for Stonie, who has adorned not only his motorcycle but his skin with many of them. He’s also not shy at all about promoting himself, having numerous signs at his compound with his name, and even a sign on his welding rig with his name on full display.
And, truth be told, he should have a substantial amount of pride in himself and his work. He is an amazingly talented welder. He has the experience, creativity, and vision, that makes him a true artisan. He has imaginative solutions to all sorts of problems that betray a hint of genius.
Stonie made a few last minute changes to the smoker while we waited and his confidence and techniques were pure poetry. Without hesitation he welded, cut, and ground the structure, creating a primo barbecue with all of the features we wanted from a rusty old hulk and a few scraps of angle iron. Genius can be found in unexpected places.
With the job completed, we loaded up the barbecue and paid Stonie, including the gift of a pecan pie that he had specially requested from my sweetheart saying something like, “Get that little mama to make it.” His plans for Thanksgiving included spending time with his cat and eating that pie, along with any other tasks that could earn him a dollar; Stonie doesn’t do anything for free, even on Thanksgiving.