Tink, Tink, Tink is the Blacksmith’s Song

During summer vacation from school, I often spent time around Toll’s Blacksmith Shop on the corner of Cherry Street and Barnes Avenue in Springfield Missouri.  My father worked part time for Bill Toll as a Blacksmith and was apprenticed/taught by Bill over the years. Toll’s Blacksmith Shop was a big old barn left over from some earlier farm in the area.  It seems out of place in the middle of Springfield now, and so did the piles of metal in and around the old barn.

Real Photo Postcard of unknown Blacksmith.

Real Photo Postcard of unknown Blacksmith ca. 1910

In the back corner of the shop was a large open fire forge that vented to the outside.  A switch on the wall ran a squirrel cage fan that replaced a need for a bellows.  There were drill presses, band saws, small forges, anvils, vises and tools of every kind.  Above your head was pieces of unfinished projects, steel wheels, scythes of all types, forged hooks, and a plethora of other items that attested to the age of this barn.  During summer vacations, Bill (or Dad, I never knew who) would hire me to straighten up the piles of metal scrap.  Quite a heavy job, but in reality I spent most of my time chasing rats and snakes with sharpened pieces of rebar.

Each afternoon Dad would give me a couple of dollars and I would run down the block to the Jiffy Mart and buy each of us a Mountain Dew.  Quite a treat after a long days “work.”

They say smells can bring about strong memories and that is certainly true.  The acrid smell of coal fired forges brings back a couple of memories for me.  One of course is a hot summer day at Toll’s Blacksmith Shop, the other is the same smell mixed with the aroma of funnel cakes at Silver Dollar City.

Shad Heller

Blacksmith Shad Heller on a Silver Dollar City Brochure.

On our trips to Silver Dollar City, we would always lose my father once the family reached Shad’s Blacksmith Shop.  Shad Heller was the mayor and blacksmith for Silver Dollar City and was locally famous for his acting parts on the Beverly Hillbillies in the 1960’s.  I remember Shad and my father talking for hours but, mostly I remember the smells and the sounds.  The dirt and the rust, the coal and the steam from red hot metal plunged into old green water, and the tink, tink, tink of the blacksmith’s hammer striking the anvil.

The Blacksmith’s Song
~by M. R. Cantrell ~

Tink, tink, tink is the blacksmith’s song;
hammer, anvil, vise and tong.
Sandpaper hands roughened by toil,
a farmer of metal, steel is his soil.

From a boy with a dream, grew a man now strong;
tink, tink, tink is the blacksmith’s song.
The steel yields to the design in his mind,
bend it, press it, hammer and grind.

The color of straw is a blacksmith’s delight,
bring down the hammer, sparks taking flight.
Tink, tink, tink is the blacksmith’s song;
the bellow keeps rhythm all day long.

From the heat of coals born of the abyss,
into the bucket – steam, splatter and hiss.
The forge fire wanes, the day is now gone,
tink, tink, tink is the blacksmith’s song.


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