Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Playing Tourist in Dover, Ohio

Today was another day in the endless series of "Playing Tourist".   We drove to a nearby town to go to a wood carver's museum.   What a delight!   I've seen some carvings, but nothing like we saw today.   The carvings were all about railroads and very detailed.

The carver had a great mind for visualizing the finished product.  A stranger showed him how  to  carve a pliers out of a piece of wood with about 10 cuts and he took it from there. One of his examples is a tree like arrangement with 511 individual pliers.  It was incredible.

Early in his career, he decided to carve "the history of railroad streamers".  He had replicates from the very early engines built in the 1700s to the latest steam  monsters.   He had a great eye for details.  When he was in his early 70s, he quit for a few years.   But then his oldest son noticed that he was somewhat bored with life and suggested that he carve "Great Moments in History" for the railroads and to do it with Ivory.   He took up the challenge and worked on it for the next 10 years.  Then he decided that he had covered all of the great moments, sat down in his chair, and suffered an incapacitating stroke and died shortly thereafter at age 87.

While he was offered big money for his carvings, he never sold one.  He did give a few away.  He actually earned his living by making kitchen knives.   He learned enough about metallurgy so that he could produce an outstanding knife.  Today the grandsons carry on the tradition of knife making.  There was no doubt that he was a very talented fellow.

During WWII, he contributed to the war effort by making a 1000 special  knives for the army commandos.  He made all of his  own carving tools.  The blade holder was curved so that it laid in the palm of his hand just right.  As he said, if you're going to work with a tool for 5 or 6 hours a day, it needs to fit your hand

While he made knives or carved train engines, his wife collected buttons, over 70,000 of them   They were not just stored in jars, but she attached them to display boards in interesting designs.  She was driven to collect buttons, going so far as to remove buttons from clothing that was being worn by her friends.  She would replace the button with a similar, but not identical button that probably would not be noticed by the causal observer.  (Replacing a 4 hole button with an identical button with only two holes.)

In  the afternoon, we headed out to see some early settlements in the area founded by groups that held everything in common.  One we couldn't find (Garmin sent us a astray) and one was available, but only open for touring on weekends.  In both cases, the settlements folded after several years.  

With that, we decided to call  it a day and return to our motorhome.


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