Two weeks after I posted the sign at the grocers, two guys knocked on my door.
“We saw your sign, and we think we can repair your barn.”
“Do you have any experience?”
“Yes, my name is Brad, and I grew up on a farm. This is Tom, and we were neighbors back home. Both of us grew up on farms.”
So I had two farm boys, “I’m Doctor Antonio Carignano, I teach history at the University.”
On my Italian passport, my name is Antonio Viccinto Manila di Carignano. On my birth certificate, my name is Antonio Viccinto Manila. My mother’s last name is Carignano before she married my dad. In some countries, the mother’s maiden is added to show lineage. People assumed my last name was Carignano, I didn’t argue, and all of my degrees from the Universities show that as my last name. Pa laughed when I showed him that.
“Yes, we’ll be in your class this coming semester.”
“Is this your first year at the University?”
“Yes, we took advanced classes in high school, which helped us to enroll at the University.”
“I look forward to having you both in my class. When we are here, please call me Tony, but at the University, I would prefer to be called Doctor Carignano.”
The boys smiled while shaking my hand. “You have a barn that needs repairs?”
“Yes, follow me.” I led them out to the barn, and we had to pass the garden. I noticed the boys looking. “This garden was my grandfather’s project. Since he has died, it needs to be resurrected. It was a nice garden, but now most of the plants have died from neglect. I want to replant it to get it back to looking like it did a few years ago. My dad and I fertilized and tilled the ground. Here’s the barn.”
I watched as the boys looked around. “This barn once had horses.”
“Yes, how can you tell?”
“We have horses on our farms. The stalls and the smells are the same.”
“Why don’t you look around. Once you have done that, come to the kitchen, and we can discuss your plan.” While I waited, I made coffee. I just poured myself a cup when they walked in.
“We looked the barn over. The roof needs repair, and I would suggest a new roof. The inside is dirty, but that can be cleaned up. The moldy straw needs to be disposed of, and you could use it for the garden. If you do, best to put it down before winter. The stalls are in good shape. May we ask why you need to fix up the barn?”
“Yes, here, take a cup of coffee and follow me.” I watched as they poured themselves a cup of coffee.
Walking toward the garage, “I think once you see what’s in this garage, you’ll know exactly why I want the barn repaired.”
I opened the door. What do you think they looked at, the carriage, no, the Olds. “Wow, that’s an old car. Does it run?”
“No, I was thinking of hooking it up to the horses and have it pulled around.” I was a little sarcastic, I know.
Then Brad spotted the carriage, “That’s why you need horses. That’s a beautiful carriage. Look, Tom, it would take four horses to move this carriage. That’s why you want the barn repaired.”
“Yes, I want to use this carriage in parades. Once I have the barn repaired, I’ll see about buying the horses.”
“May I asked about the cars?”
“Yes, the Olds was my great grandfather’s, the sedan was my grandfather’s. I want to get the sedan checked out so I can drive it.”
“What about the Olds?”
“That’s an antique and would require a special person to work on it. Someone would have to be able to restore antique autos.”
“Dave, how about Charlie? He fixed up that 1890 tractor. I’ll bet he can get that Olds running.”
“And where is this Charlie?”
“He’s back home. I’ll give him a call and see if he’s interested.”
“Okay, about the barn?”
“I’ll go back and take some notes, and then I’ll check out what we need and the price of the supplies. How does next Saturday sound? I’ll give you a proposal, including labor.”
“That will be fine.”
A few hours later, I watched from the door as they held hands, walking to their car. I smiled to myself.