SEARSPORT, Maine — It’s clear that 93-year-old Bob Perdrizet doesn’t have a good handle on the meaning of the word “retire.”
But the World War II veteran, avid gardener and inveterate salesman does have a good grip on something else — the “ Miracle Finger Hoe,” a lightweight and versatile garden hoe that he believes will be a boon to gardeners everywhere. Perdrizet designed the garden tool as a reproduction of the hoe his relatives used in their backyard gardens back in the 1910s, and is proud to report that it is finally made completely in Maine. The long wooden handles are made by the Peavey Manufacturing Co. in Eddington and the skinny metal tip now is made by Lyman-Morse Boatbuilding Co. in Thomaston.
“I wanted it made in Maine. If it grows big enough, it will employ people in Maine. I could have it made in China, but I don’t want to have it made in China. I want it made here,” Perdrizet said recently. “Anybody who was born in Maine or has lived in Maine for a long time should do what they can to increase the human value here.”
But he would like people to know that the garden tool, which his daughter Grace Marsh assembles in her Rockland garage, has a lot of fans.
“I’ve probably sold 100 of them right around Searsport. [Purchasers] all extoll the virtues of the hoe,” he said. “It doesn’t require a lot of pressure like a regular hoe. Women love it for their flower gardens — you don’t have to get on your hands and knees.”
Marsh, who learned how to use a drill press in order to put the tools together, said that a recent sales outing at the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity led to more fans of all ages.
“A 5-year-old boy picked one up. He was busy with it on the raised bed we had. He messed around with it for about 10 minutes, looked at my father and my sister, and said, ‘This is good,” she recounted. “I don’t like sales. I’m not a salesman. The thing I like about it is it just sells itself.”
Marsh said that her father, who would not consider changing the name to her suggestion of the “Maine Garden Hoe,” is trying hard to leave a legacy. For Perdrizet, who two years ago went on a solo trip to Alaska, that shouldn’t be too hard. At the end of October, he was eager to share stories of his most recent adventure — going to Washington, D.C., thanks to the nonprofit Honor Flight Network.
“That was some experience,” he said, still amazed at the numbers of people who turned out to cheer on the veterans while en route to the airport in Manchester, N.H. “It felt like you were the president of the United States. It was unbelievable.”
Perdrizet headed down to Florida for the winter in order to recover from all the excitement, he said in a phone interview from Boca Raton. But he’s still busy working on selling the $30 hoe.
“In my garden in Searsport, it loosens the soil, it makes the soil nice so it can absorb oxygen,” he said. “It helps the plants.”
For more information about the garden tool, visit the website www.miraclefingerhoe.com or call 596-2932.
Correction: A phone number was listed incorrectly in an earlier version of this story. For more information about the garden tool, call 596-2932.