Joel McKinney walked along roads. He walked along roads near his home and around. When he’d find a cut or steep bank on the edge of the road, Joel would search along the bank for saplings or young trees.
These were special saplings that he was searching for. Straight, growing upward, but the root shape was most important. Instead of branching out in all directions, the roots of these saplings growing on a steep rocky bank tended to grow down parallel with the slope of the bank. That made a nice curve at the base of the sapling.
Joel McKinney carved backscratchers. He’d sit for hours carving and sanding to make a backscratcher. Good ones. I’ve had mine twenty-some years. I had never known him to sell these anywhere. He simply gave them to his Friends. He made a lot. He had a lot of Friends. All this without being able to see. Joel had lost his vision to diabetes.
He went fishing with me. He went hunting and camping with me. I think about him often, even when my back doesn’t itch.
The picture is my back scratcher. If you hand someone a backscratcher, they will immediately find a place that itches.
I often tell people, “I don’t know what kind of wood it is, but it sure smells funny.” Then, as they are smelling the wood, I’ll add how effective it is at scratching hemorrhoids. No one has stolen my backscratcher. It has been thrown at me a few times.
Memories of Friends live on
Beyond their lifetimes .