The welder

If only the lines and scars on his hands could talk. Underneath the oil and dirt a diary of 43 years of lines would tell quite a story. Stories of hard work would be the easiest to see but after talking to Hartford Cooper for awhile earlier this fall those stories would just be the beginning.

Hartford Cooper pauses for a portrait in his rural welding shop.

Hartford Cooper pauses for a portrait in his rural welding shop.

Cooper, a long time fixture of Nodaway, IA, has owned a repair and welding shop off of Birch Avenue for over 30 years. The 78 year-old has welded a variety of projects during his 43 year career. 

His tool of choice and an irreplaceable tool for his business is a Lincoln Motor Generator. The now antique generator from the late 60's still provides stick and wire welding after many decades of service for Cooper.

When I met Cooper he was working on repairing the gears of an old feed wagon. The project took all of his focus and dexterity to line the gears up properly to make the wagon work again. He told me that most of his work over the years has come from area farm repairs but more and more of his time is spent repairing commercial garbage bins. The bins rust through over time and Cooper uses his years of experience to replace the bottoms with new steel sheets.