This is the final version after workshop.

Memories of Ancestral Knowledge


Jeremiah Stillings

The drive was over, and I pulled into the only available parking spot, much to far from the gates for my wife’s liking. I announced “we are here” loudly to the two boys asleep in the seats behind me. I sat there for a moment wondering what this modern-day company Medieval Times really knew about the memories I hold. As I saw my oldest son’s sleep depart, I wondered, if he too had these memories.  Greeted and admitted, as we past the display of armor the knights would be jousting in, my memories came flooding back to me

Memory Tattoo

There I was at my forge. Keeping the coal, the right temperature after adding three hard black bricks of new coal took work, planning, and a little luck on the bellows. My dog loved to watch me press my foot on the bellows and wait for the sparks float into the air like fireflies. It was almost comical the way he would watch the action. When he was a puppy he tried to catch the fireflies in his mouth but a hot one got him good and now he just watches. Over time I learned to place the new bricks under the delicate cracked grey bricks, because forge fire heats from the bottom up. It allowed me to use my forge for at least two extra hours each day. Many of my competition did not use this trick, and still placed the new bricks on top of the old. I can hear them from my forge, laughing, and drinking excessively while they wait for their forge’s heat to grow. I have already made two sets of horse shoes for Issac Stauffer, who showed up just as I was retrieving them from the slack tub.  He was happy they were still warm, for Pennsylvania was cold already, and he said chipperly “They should keep my hands warm on the walk back.” Why he never rode his horses, I will never know. Odd ones, those Mennonites, but they bring steady work.

          There was always work for those willing to actually do it. Some of the richer folks wanted these new cast iron pots made. These were too expensive to do on a normal basis, and I make myself get payment up front, but always find that I use more in materials then I guessed the price would be. That’s the way of it, “How much they ask?” never considering the time it took me to learn this trade, the materials I must acquire, nor the actual pain in my left arm when I swing that six-pound hammer down on the metal, and it sends the shock right up the tongs into my arm. I often wonder if I should just hit my arm with the hammer instead but, that would be madness.

Memory Tattoo

My youngest son was pulling on my hands to follow, and the memory’s faded to the now. My oldest looked as deep in thought about the armor as I, and I knew he had the knowledge passed down through the ages which enabled me to recall all the things that I have never done in this life, yet they are my ancestral memories; forever burned into my mind and now his.

Copyright © Jeremiah Stillings 2018