Like many things, The Magic Jar had an unremarkable beginning. It moved a lot. Every few years. Most of its moves were international, where movers took apart (and put together) furniture and “things”. In addition, dad (me) had kids of the age where he was putting toys and bikes together on a regular basis. And attempting to fix those that broke. All this meant that dad had a plethora of left-over screws, nuts and bolts. Some were honestly extra. Others were “lost” in that dad couldn’t remember to what they belonged, and whatever belonged them, didn’t seem to be missing them. Dad stuffed all those pieces in an old mayonnaise jar.
After a time, dad began to suspect the usefulness of the assorted odds and ends. When something broke, was un-repairable, and thus slated for the trash, easily removable and potentially useful hardware was stripped off, and added to the jar. It all still fit in the original 1 quart mayo jar.
One day, while living in Germany, dad arrived home from work. He pulled into the driveway in front of the little garage attached to the townhouse, which was a mirror image of the garage/townhouse of the neighbor. The neighbor was in his driveway struggling with his toddler’s bicycle. The handlebars wouldn’t stay put and kept sliding down. An unhappy 3 yr old stood by. A mixed English/German language discussion ensued. German dad trying to explain the issue the best he understood, and dad attempting to determine what part was actually the problem. Eventually the nut/bolt that squeezes the handlebars to hold them still was found to be the issue. Dad, communicated to German dad, “Hang on, I think I have that part”.
Dad opened the garage door, and there on the floor in the corner, sat jar, with all its contents. After a quick shake spewed the goodies out on to the floor, a cursory look found the necessary part. The dads quickly installed the “new” bolt and nut, and the toddler peddled off. German dad was very thankful and asked how much he owed dad for the part. Dad laughed.
“Nothing – it came out of The Magic Jar” followed with a convoluted half-English, half-German explanation of the jar and its contents.
And to this day, the entire family refers to dad’s collection of random parts and pieces as “The Magic Jar”.