He stands in dark green work clothes, shirt sleeves rolled up above his elbows. A long blue apron is tied behind, and
blue knitted watchcap covers thick salt-and-pepper hair.
His name is David K. Rines, and he is owner of Kennebec, his own one-man machine shop at 199 Forest St. Today the 98 Greenwood Drive resident is concentrating on a job he is finishing on something called a chucker, one of the five machines that dominate his little work space.
Like dozens of other small businessmen in Manchester, Rines applauds last week's attempt to repeal the unincorporated business tax.
"I'll be glad to see it repealed," he says. "I think that the state is trying to attract industry, and any form of tax will make an industry think twice about coming in. [The tax] was repressive."
Music from a small portable radio suspended on the wall by a nail fills the room, "a symphony by Poulenc," he says, hardly looking up from his work.
Rines may be in an occupation traditionally labeled "blue collar," but his taste for fine things in life -- classical music, theater, horticulture -- quickly dispel old stereotypes associated with that label.
His concentration is such that there are long pauses between phrases. His voice is difficult to hear over the metallic noise of the machine and the muffled sound of a heater's fan.
Finally he takes a break. He takes off his glasses and cap, and stands, arms crossed, leaning against one of his machines. The smell of cutting oil pervades the air.
"That's one of the good points of being in business for yourself," he says, obviously enjoying the unhurried break. "If you want to goof off a day, you just close up, turn off the lights, and go."
But goofing off is obviously not what Rines does best. As a machinist, he is kept busy with jobbing, or contract work for larger companies -- milling, turning, boring, and other general machine work. And the best part -- he's his own boss.
"After working a number of years for other people," he says, "I decided to go to work for myself. Why make money for other people when you can make it for yourself?" he asks, evidently expecting no answer.
Initially, his wife, Robina Rines, was hesitant about the move to self-employment, but when she saw the results, "She wished I had done it years ago," he says.
Rines is a displaced Down East-er -- he was born in Kennebec County, Maine, but moved to Manchester 27 years ago. "I would have liked to have stayed there," he says, "but there's nothing much there aside from the scenery and the snow."
Here, however, he can indulge his love for music and the arts to his heart's content. He is a theater buff -- has subscribed to Nutmeg for years -- and enjoys classical music. His tastes, he believes, are a legacy from his parents, who always made him aware of the arts. "It has a lot to do with how you were brought up," he says.
He must have been brought up, too, with a respect for machinery, for his shop is a testament to that.
The old-fashioned care he takes with things is everywhere apparent -- from the clean swept floor of the shop to the gleaming machinery, to the tools all carefully arranged on his work counter. Everything about him is in order.
"Lots of people have 10 of these," he says, wiggling his thumbs. "I see lots of good things thrown out, like refrigerators. I fix them. I can't throw them away."
But it's not just machines that escape the garbage heap in Rines's world. He has a shelf in the shop that is loaded with refugee plants: poinsettias, geraniums, even a cactus.
He didn't have room for them in the house, so they bacame shop plants. "It was either here or the junk pile," he says, "and I couldn't see that."
Rines, machinist, classical music lover, theater buff, plant lover, is also his family's bread baker. He developed the skill, he says, shortly after his wife sent him to the store one day 12 years ago for a loaf of bread.
"I was standing in the check-out line, waiting, and I started to read the ingredients," he says, "and they were all chemicals. So I thought there must be a better alternative.
"I read a lot of books, and started baking. The total labor involved isn't more than 30 mintues. And what you make yourself is much better than what you can buy. It tastes better, and there are no additives or preservatives."
He bakes only one loaf at a time, because he doesn't like to freeze the bread. "It loses its taste," he says. But he frequently bakes loaves in quantity for the Unitarian Universalist Society when the group has one of their fairs.
He likes oatmeal bread best, and shares his favorite recipes for that type, as well as for molasses and cornmeal flavored Anadama bread.
Rines's future is apparently as well-ordered as the rest of his life. He shuns talk of expanding his shop: "I intend to remain the same size," he says. "The minute you get people working for you, you end up working for them. And I don't intend to retire. If you lose interest in life, you're just slamming the door."
"Too many people think that 65 is over the hill," he continues. "I don't feel that way. I'm 55 and I feel like I just got going."
And the man who just got going keeps on going. Even when he goes on vacation, he likes to make little side trips, "to a food processing plant, a steel mill, or a cigarette factory. You get interested in the darndest things.
"Did you know that when they make cigarettes, they come out 5,000 feet long, and then they just cut them up?" he asks, shaking his head increduously.
"I can't understand people who say there's nothing more to learn. You've got to be kidding. Technology today is wild!"
Add 1½ teaspoons of salt to 1½ cups of water. Bring to a boil and add 1½ cups of oatmeal and
remove from heat. Do not boil. To the hot mixture add in ½ cup of light brown sugar, packed, and about 2 tablespoons
margarine. Stir up and let cool.
Meanwhile, in ½ cup of warm water, add one package of dry yeast and let rise. Combine the two mixtures when ready, and slowly add and mix in from 3 to 3½ cups of sifted all purpose flour. Knead well and place in a greased bowl and cover with a warm, moist cloth.
When dough has doubled in size, punch down and let rest for 10 minutes. Knead again and turn into a greased and floured loaf pan. Let rise until about one inch above edge of pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes.
"I rub a stick of margarine across the top when baked and still hot and let it cool. I have used bacon fat for shortening as they did in the 'old days' and it offers a different taste. If you reduce the salt to 1 teaspoon and let rise at room temperature the texture of the bread will be finer. It's a moist bread and keeps well if it lasts long enough."
Add 1 teaspoon of salt to 1½ cups water, and when boiling, slowly stir in ½ cup yellow corn meal. Bring
back to a slow boil, and stir to keep from sticking.
Turn into a bowl and stir in ½ cup of dark molasses and 2 tablespoons margarine. Let cool down.
In ½ cup warm water, add a package of dry yeast and let rise. Combine the two mixtures and slowly work in 4 to 4½ cups of sifted all purpose flour. Knead and let rise in a greased bowl, covered with a warm, moist cloth. When dough has doubled, punch down and let rest.
Knead again and turn into a greased and floured loaf pan. Let rise until about one inch above edge of pan. Brush top with melted shortening and sprinkle a little cornmeal across the top. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes.
"You can use honey or dark corn syrup if you like. Don't be afraid to experiment with the bread."