Dictionary states, "A niche can be a place, employment or activity for which a
person or thing is best fitted." Also, "A slot can be an assumed or assigned place
Old-timers said of a man who changed jobs often: "He just
hasn't found his niche yet."
A man who worked hard but never seemed to
get anywhere: "He got into a slot and can't climb out."
through the years, I have known or heard of several people who found their niche
in life even though it was narrow and limited in scope. I once interviewed an
old man, a grandfather of a friend, who told of his niche when he was growing
up in Arkansas.
It seems the community held a barn dance once a month
in a large barn with a rough plank floor. As most of the crowd were young folks
who danced barefooted occasionally, they picked up a splinter or two. The young
boy kept a sharp-pointed knife and homemade tweezers ready for use.
the need arose, he sat with tools in hand, removed the splinter and applied a
disinfectant containing mostly moonshine. For this service, he charged a penny.
His services as a "splinter-picker" earned him free admission to the monthly barn
man named Mr. Street arrived on main street in early McLean,
Texas, each Saturday morning. Both pants and coat pockets were filled with
refurbished, repaired and sharpened used pocketknives. He tried to trade knives
with every man he met that day, always insisting on a nickel or a dime "to boot."
It was a needed service and earned him a bit of spending money during the hard
times of the Great Depression and Dust Bowl.
His personal niche was the
fact he was a well-known "wart rubber." Mothers brought their children plagued
warts to Mr. Street for the "cure." He rubbed the warts,
and within a few days the
warts went away. For this service, he did not charge, but I imagine it sold
a lot of knives.
old-time Alanreed blacksmith named Jim Bryant made butcher and paring knives out
of broken buggy axles. Each Saturday morning, he gathered his inventory into a
slotted overalls leg and hitchhiked to McLean.
There, he prowled the streets all day, selling his knives for one dollar each
and proved they were sharp by shaving hair off his forearm. By the way, the knives
are collector items today. If you own one, let me know.
man I heard of lived on the edge of a Panhandle town and drove a Model A pickup.
If you wanted to drill a water well and make sure you found water, you called
the man. He would arrive with his willow twigs and walk until he found the best
place to find water. He charged a fee, but you didn't pay unless you found water.
I'm on the track of a horse chiropractor but haven't caught up with him
yet. I suspect this is another narrow niche in which to work. Do horses or the
owners call the chiropractor?
© Delbert Trew
All Trew" November
17, 2009 Column