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IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

May 19, 1996|CHRIS GOODRICH

DID MONKEYS INVENT THE MONKEY WRENCH? Hardware Stores and Hardware Stories by Vince Staten (Simon & Schuster: $21; 234 pp.). I'm a sucker for this kind of book, and Vince Staten has produced a good one, staying away--thankfully--from men-and-their-tools analysis and other kinds of over-interpretation. What we guys want--excuse me, us guys--is odd facts and interesting tales, and Staten provides them, wholesale.

To wit: the ubiquitous Ames really is the first name in shovels, having been founded in 1774; Black & Decker sold a clothes washer in the 1930s called the Cinderella (how could it have failed?); the special ingredient in Rust-Oleum paint is fish oil; the WD in WD-40 stands for "water displacement"; the original 1965 version of Master Lock's bullet-through-the-padlock television commercial had to be pulled because some customers tried to duplicate the feat at home (in subsequent ads the sharpshooter used a rifle rather than a handgun).

Staten, who grew up in his father's Tennessee hardware store, relates these particulars, and their attendant stories, with charm and fondness.

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