I always thought that most of my artistic talents came from my mother, but thinking about my father since his passing, I realize that is not quite correct. My dad liked to make things with his hands. He was a fixer par excellence and, after retirement, he used that talent for his own pleasure.
My boat – Henry Hudson’s Half Moon
He spent many days, weeks, and months building scaled sailing boat model kits which ranged in size from 18″ to over 3 feet. All you had to do was pick one out of the catalog and he was ready to go. As you can see, the sail rigging was meticulously hand knotted and each and every little piece had its place. No shortcuts. He created a wide variety of balsa wood Christmas ornaments and by the end he was up to about 30 per year because everyone in the family got one. He built a 5′ canary yellow radio controlled Piper Cub sea plane which he flew once and safely landed out at his strip mine lake. He built and sailed a 5′ model of the battleship Missouri there too. It was always the process that he enjoyed. When it was done he was proud, but ready to move onto the next project.
But I think he enjoyed making the house models the most. It all started in 1979 when he made a little scale model of our house as a Christmas ornament – a log cabin John and I built (mostly) with our own hands. After starting with that, he went on to make close to 100 more. There was the large courthouse in Arizona for his sister-in-law’s husband, the houses he and mom grew up in, all of their own homes, and of course all of the children’s and grandchildren’s homes. Add on the friends who loved the models and wanted one of their own. He was more than happy to comply. Summer was for working at maintaining the lake retirement home and property, but winter was the time those for indoor projects.
He got quite sophisticated as the years went by, often taking his own photos when he visited as well as measuring the foundation. There came to be panes in the windows, railings on the decks, and trees and shrubs in the yard. Paint colors were accurately applied . My current house was not easy to do, but if you look closely, you can even see the crane weather vane on top of our gazebo.
They are truly works of art that all of us will treasure as a reminder of him and the things he liked to do for the people he loved.