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Barb Bliss

Cool wood things...

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I finally got the back story for the wooden sculpture in Gayle and Jimmy's house.  It's solid wood BoRo, carved by prisoners of war in WWII in Germany.  Once it was obvious that the Americans were coming, the German soldiers ran.  The prisoners loaded up the horse sculptures (38 in all) into stolen trucks, and moved them to Spain until after the war.  Then after the war, they were smuggled to America.

One of those prisoners kept a bunch of them.  He later owned a string of stores (Lancers - men's clothing; Stables - women's clothing) here in Minnesota.  Each store had one of the horses in it.  When he was retiring and selling the businesses about 30 years ago, he was going to have the horses auctioned off.  Gayle saw one of the horses and struck up a conversation with the retiring owner when she went to a Lancers store to buy a suit for Jim's dad that had just died of cancer.  (He need a new suit for the funeral because of all the weight Jim's dad had lost while he was sick.)  He told her the auction was going to be in a couple of days and she could bid on one of them then.  She told him about the funeral and that she couldn't attend the auction because she'd be at the funeral.  She begged him to bid on one of the horses for her, that she trusted him.  You'd have to have met Gayle to appreciate her marvelous personality.  Any who, he decided to sell one to her at a good price right then and there.  (note: Jimmy still to this day doesn't know how much she paid for it, but is sure it was in the thousands.)  Upon their deaths, the horse is to be donated to the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA).  They "made" Jim and Gayle install a humidifier system, and come in twice a year to inspect/maintain the horse.

Jim is a lawyer/judge and was working with MIA to figure out the legalese of the transfer.  Hitler stole the wood, and made POW carve the horses.  Then the prisoners stole the horses, and smuggled them to America.  Then Jim and Gayle bought them from one of the thieves.  Did the horse legally belong to the German people?  Did it belong to the owner of the wood?  Did it belong to the prisoners that were forced to carve them?  In the end, MIA decided they were happy that the horse would live at the MIA semi soon. 

Fun fact: The architect made them put in an additional beam under the floor to support the weight.  Jim guesses it weighs around 700 pounds excluding the base.  He made a solid oak base for the horse, and said the horse was so well balanced he only needed 2 screws to attach the horse to the base. 

 

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Barb, that's a wonderful story.  

Not an attempt to one-up but want to keep the thread going.

Dad apprenticed with a carpenter before I was born, and worked in an antique furniture repair shop part-time.  He still takes commissions for lathe work from the owner even though he hasn't worked in the shop in over 40 years.  

Dad made me a solid cherry toy chest when I was probably 4 or 5.  Today it's full of blankets at the foot of my bed, and probably needs a good coat of murphy's oil soap.

I'm the oldest of 3 boys.  Dad made another toy box for middle brother after he was born.  His is slightly different, but the same pattern.  I remember going to great-grandad's barn to raid the hay loft for some rough cut cherry stored up there (I found out this week they had some walnut boards up there too; wonder if they're still there??)   I think that cherry was the lumber that became Jason's chest.

My youngest brother didn't get one.  We had a 750 sqft 3 bedroom house; he and Jason shared a bedroom and there simply wasn't room for a 3rd one.

A few years back, Mrs. Zoxe and I finally got around to establishing our wills.  We started listing family heirlooms to name and pass specifically.  I listed only 3.  My toy box will go to my youngest brother, or to his daughter if he's gone.  Sometime over beers I'll need to explain the significance of it.  It's one of those rare items that's been with me across time and distance that I don't think about all that often (unless I kick it in the middle of the night by accident!) but would sorely miss if it were gone.

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, Zoxe said:

Barb, that's a wonderful story.  

Not an attempt to one-up but want to keep the thread going.

Dad apprenticed with a carpenter before I was born, and worked in an antique furniture repair shop part-time.  He still takes commissions for lathe work from the owner even though he hasn't worked in the shop in over 40 years.  

Dad made me a solid cherry toy chest when I was probably 4 or 5.  Today it's full of blankets at the foot of my bed, and probably needs a good coat of murphy's oil soap.

I'm the oldest of 3 boys.  Dad made another toy box for middle brother after he was born.  His is slightly different, but the same pattern.  I remember going to great-grandad's barn to raid the hay loft for some rough cut cherry stored up there (I found out this week they had some walnut boards up there too; wonder if they're still there??)   I think that cherry was the lumber that became Jason's chest.

My youngest brother didn't get one.  We had a 750 sqft 3 bedroom house; he and Jason shared a bedroom and there simply wasn't room for a 3rd one.

A few years back, Mrs. Zoxe and I finally got around to establishing our wills.  We started listing family heirlooms to name and pass specifically.  I listed only 3.  My toy box will go to my youngest brother, or to his daughter if he's gone.  Sometime over beers I'll need to explain the significance of it.  It's one of those rare items that's been with me across time and distance that I don't think about all that often (unless I kick it in the middle of the night by accident!) but would sorely miss if it were gone.

My grandfather (my Mom's dad), took some wooden fruit crates, and created kitchen "appliances".  His daughter played with them, and after a new coat of paint, three granddaughters played with them, and later a great grandson.  Not sure where they ended up.  Maybe my cousin's grandkids???  I hope they are still going strong.  I don't think he ever thought so much fun would be had by so many kids when he was creating them.

Edited by Barb Bliss

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44 minutes ago, Barb Bliss said:

My grandfather (my Mom's dad), took some wooden fruit crates, and created kitchen "appliances".  His daughter played with them, and after a new coat of paint, three granddaughters played with them, and later a great grandson.  Not sure where ended up.  Maybe my cousin's grandkids???  I hope they are still going strong.  I don't think he ever thought so much fun would be had by so many kids when he was creating them.

My mom's grandfather did the same thing.  The surviving piece was a roughly 1/3 scale Server/Hutch (cabinet lower, shelves upper) that my mom played with as a little girl.  It's crude for what it is, but the doors opened and closed, there was a toggle/latch held in place with a screw and a flat washer.  Imagination ignores those things - it's about the right size/scale for tea party cups and saucers.  We had it at the house, but being all boys we gravitated to other things though I'm sure I used it as a fort for Han, Luke, and R2 at some point.

Mom now has 3 granddaughters and the oldest is playing with her great-great-grandfather's handiwork (cleaned up and lightly repaired).

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1 hour ago, Zoxe said:

My mom's grandfather did the same thing.  The surviving piece was a roughly 1/3 scale Server/Hutch (cabinet lower, shelves upper) that my mom played with as a little girl.  It's crude for what it is, but the doors opened and closed, there was a toggle/latch held in place with a screw and a flat washer.  Imagination ignores those things - it's about the right size/scale for tea party cups and saucers.  We had it at the house, but being all boys we gravitated to other things though I'm sure I used it as a fort for Han, Luke, and R2 at some point.

Mom now has 3 granddaughters and the oldest is playing with her great-great-grandfather's handiwork (cleaned up and lightly repaired).

My set had a stove/oven and a refrigerator/freezer.  Even the door had shelves built in.  Pretty cool.  I think they were pink for my oldest sister, but us youngest two experienced less pink and a lot more brown.

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