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Diary of Hiram Harvey Hurlburt Jr: Chapter 8

I am thinking now as I have reached seventy four years (March 5th 1901.) that it is an unhappy talent to have eyes whose perceptions are continually looking at things in hopes to find them orderly, that is, that when one sits down in a room to look a little. To find the doors cased awry. The casing at the top would in one instance a half inch out of square, would show that much if tried in the corner with a steel square, main part 24 inches arm 18 inches. Every time I went to grandmother Bullard’s her room door to the dining room door was in this condition, the work was well done, good close joints, so I wondered how it came about, for if the house were racked by wind or foundation giving out those joints would have showed it. So I asked, how the door happened so? grandmother said. “It was done by Knight Sprague a blind man, it was all done by feeling, that was his trade to do of rooms in houses and when ??? I never saw him work. The greatest puzzle to me was, how he could drive a nail and not have them come out in sight at the point to disfigure the work, but his work was free from such faults, more so than a new house I painted inside at Butte Montana in the year 1900.

Another mechanic lived across the road from my fathers that made spinning wheels, reels for yarn, chairs and bedsteads. He, James Sawyer had a lathe made in such a way as this: There was a spring pole of springy timber stretched across through his shop over head, the large end made rigid, then a rope fastened on the smaller end, then came down to the piece of timber to be turned, wound around twice then down to the treadle for ??? foot to press down, when the chisel would tackle the object, then the spring would turn the stick the other way, then another pressure with the foot, when the chisel would renew the cutting, so half the time he was turning out the article, the other half to renew the power. This was called a spring lathe.

But the next trouble about my eyes was, to find out the color of other peoples eyes. There were two men than gave me a long study. I guess thirty years before I could accomplish the feat. One was Lauren Drake. When he spoke to you he just gave one quick as a flash look, then looked right around the other way. And when he asked another question the same fashion. Finally after my fathers death in California he asked me a question about it, and I was quite sensitive about it; and in trying to answer I came near breaking up. When he just gazed at me. So I found the color to be dark blue.

Another man gave me a hunt for a long time, it was Shubal Wales, he was cross-eyed and very quick motion. He always asked questions in a way that you was sure he was looking somewhere else. I caught at the color one day when he was hewing a stick of timber that was crooked. He had struck a white chalk line to hew by, and then when he got at the job, he said, He was not going to “Debbie” around after the line! The expression amused me so much, and I laughed so heartily, that he stopped apparently astonished looking at me steadily as if to find out what I could laugh at. Then I caught the color of his eyes as dark grey.

In mentioning of this trait of recognizing people by the color of their eyes I will relate. There was a man I knew all my younger days in the Town of Ripton, VT., Timothy Winter, one of his eyes were blue, and the other about one third brown and the other two thirds blueish green. As I did not in those days say anything about my peculiar method of recognition, it was several years before I heard any one mention this peculiarity. The division in Mr. Winters were from the pupil out toward the white of the eye.

As I advanced in years this peculiar quality of observing made me considerable embarrassment. I would see a stranger and before thinking would be anxious to ascertain the color of their eyes; I would find myself so intruding before I realized that I was impertinent, before I considered that my forwardness be taken as such.

(The full diary will be located here when complete.)

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