Kulm man tried it once but finds work more satisfyingFor the past 50 years Russ Gackle has worked at the same repair bench, under the same pressed tin ceilings in the same dimly lit building.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
KULM, N.D. — For the past 50 years Russ Gackle has worked at the same repair bench, under the same pressed tin ceilings in the same dimly lit building.
The hardware store located at 3 North Main Ave. has been a fixture in Kulm for more than 100 years. Gackle himself has been a bit of a fixture in the small town store.
“He was always behind the parts counter for as long as I can remember,” said Dennis Herman, a Kulm resident.
Gackle started work in the parts department at what was then Gackle Brothers’ Hardware on May 1, 1959, he said. In that department he has fixed everything from washing machines to cream separators, he said.
“I used to know where everybody lived, I knew their first names and what they had in their house because I delivered a lot of stuff,” Gackle said.
He would deliver mattresses, box springs, furniture, appliances and even bottled gas, he said.
Gackle recalls one time in the 1960s when he delivered bottled gas to a woman who turned on the pilot light on her water heater 45 minutes after he told her to.
“It lifted the house off the foundation,” he said.
Not delivering bottled gas is just one of the changes that has taken place at the store since he started, Gackle said.
Furniture, box springs and mattresses are no longer delivered. Gackle also installed a motorized elevator and a chain hoist to lift riding lawn mowers in the back of the store.
The store also changed owners, to Russ’ son, Dale Gackle, and his wife, Gloria, in 2000.
After 38 years with Gackle Brothers’ Hardware, Russ Gackle hung up his tool belt in 1997 and planned to coast into retirement traveling the country and fishing, he said.
Except Gackle couldn’t make the transition from working man to retired, so he came back to the store and works about everyday without pay, he said.
Dale Gackle said he knew his father would be back working at the store tinkering with machines after retirement.
“If it wasn’t for him, I can’t say I wouldn’t make it, but he sure helps,” he said.
Having his father work at what’s now called Dale’s Hardware helps keep labor costs for the store down and having his expertise also helps the store, Dale said.
“He’s got the knowledge and skills to do those things and that feels good,” he said.
Little has changed for Russ Gackle over his lifetime. Born and raised in Kulm, Gackle was drafted into the U.S. Marine Corps in 1952 and spent time in Korea, he said.
But to this day his routine remains closely the same as when he started in 1959, he said.
Everyday Gackle rises at 6 a.m., goes into the Kulm Café for breakfast and coffee and discusses current events with his friends.
He will show up at the store around 9 a.m. and spend his days tinkering with different appliances and machines, he said.
“Life is a lot easier and smoother when you don’t have those worries or thoughts about what you’re going to do,” Gackle said.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by e-mail at email@example.com