Most woodworkers would design and build a toy chest so that it would hold a multitude of playthings and stuffed animals.
But 86-year-old Bob Messer makes sure his creations are big enough for the kid to climb into and explore the wonders of the figurative and literal inner world of childhood.
In terms of the sizing, his creations are derived from his figuring on what the kid would like. He judges that based on his own vivid memories of finding his way into a kitchen cabinet his father built when he a little tike.
How did Bob find his way into woodworking?
“My wife of 63 years, Norma, suggested that I get a real hobby when I first retired,” he said. “Well, my whole life has been a hobby, my whole being is a hobby. Ever since I was old enough to think and remember, I worked on model airplanes, wood cars and the like.
“I like the feel of wood, I like to choose lumber and determine what I can do with it – depending on the various aspects of it – whether it’s oak or whatever,” he said.
When the news and politics on television begins to be a bore, he heads downstairs and dons his carpenter’s apron. He keeps his pace within the constraints of the mechanics of an octogenarian’s body, and he times his jobs accordingly.
“At 86,” he admits, “things don’t work the way they used to, like my mind and my fingers and hands. It was when I was 84 that I noticed for the first time in my life that I ever tried to lift something up and I couldn’t do it.”
But age hasn’t kept him from naturally blending the use of his talents and his philosophy of life which is to show love through a basic element like wood.
The second part in this series will feature some of the philosophy that drives his life, like a confident carpenter drives a nail.
Listen to a great discussion with Bob Messer and host Robert J. LaCosta on “The Age Sage,” a free podcast that’s available on your phone and computer.
This story appeared on page 7 of the September, 2023 print edition of Family Now