There’s a story behind Tom’s shop and how it came about that we ended up retiring here in High Prairie. In the early 1990s, anticipating the end of our working years and wanting to get out of the city, we started looking for property in the vicinity of White Salmon. Every few months we would spend a day driving around, looking at places we could not afford. A friend then told us to look a little further east and one weekend in 1994 we made an offer on a six-acre wooded lot in Appleton, and an abandoned, unfinished cabin in High Prairie.
Since we were a few years away from actually being able to retire, we would come up on weekends, clearing a house site on the Appleton property, and fixing up the High Prairie cabin. I liked both areas and couldn’t make up my mind so the question, “Where to retire?” remained in limbo. Finally, tired of my vacillation, Tom ordered his shop, and gave me a few days to make up my mind where it was to be put.
The shop was referred to by some of the neighbors as Tom’s True Value. Often a trip to town would not be necessary because Tom had just the right piece of wood, a bolt, or length of PVC pipe. It became a gathering place for barbecues and meetings, assembling bluebird houses and craft projects, making fishing lures, and just shooting the breeze.
This past summer our family cleared out the shop and moved most of it to Idaho for a future garage sale. I swept it out this week, vacuumed out drawers and wiped off the work benches. It was comforting to work a few hours there where he had spent so much time and been so productive. After I got done, however, I looked around and thought that there’s something not quite right about a shop that is too clean. But there it stands, quiet and empty, awaiting whatever comes next.