Happy Birthday, Dad

Today would have been my Dad’s 96th birthday if he was still around.  He was a woodworker whose hobby was woodworking.  Sometime when he was semi-retired (he was self employed, so he never really retired) he built these scale models of a stage coach and a wagon.


I think they were destroyed later in a traffic accident.  But they were pretty impressive examples of his woodworking talents.


About the roused bear

Nature photographer from central Iowa.
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3 Responses to Happy Birthday, Dad

  1. ljhlaura says:

    Agree … they are impressive!

  2. Perry Thostenson says:

    Hi Harlan,

    Ive intended to reply on your Dads birthday but have been preoccupied with busyness. I have a minute to write and had to comment on your Dad, and my old friend’s birthday.

    Your photo of the model wagons reminded me of the time that he built the “Little Piece of Prairie” for the Conservation Center. He called me up and wondered if I could come see something in his garage. He had something special to show me and wouldnt tell what it was, but I could tell that he was pretty excited. So I agreed and met him at his home in New Sharon. Once inside the garage he showed me the prairie display he had made.

    It was about a yard square replica of a prairie in a wooden case with caster wheels. It was in two pieces, with the bottom part of the display a real life replica of a woodland scene. The top part was the piece of prairie. Most of the grasses and flowers were dried real specimens, while some other were parts of old arrangements from the cemetery that he cut and modified into realistic flowers. The piece of prairie was encased in a glass case about a yard square. The bottom woodland scene had tempered glass–in case some little kid decided to kick it in. It was very nice and he was so proud of it. I can still see him smiling as broad as Montana.

    Then the funny part begins. Like the man who built a boat in the basement, we had to figure out how to get the display to the Conservation Center. I was afraid to haul the prairie part in my truck for fear that it would fall apart during the moving. I had a brain storm to contact the Harden Funeral Home (is that right?), thinking that maybe they had a van that they used to haul flowers and such and that maybe we could borrow it. They didnt. But the funeral director had an alternative idea: he would haul the top prairie part in his hearse. Well, odd as it was, it was a solution and if you cant get a gentle ride in a hearse, where can you get one?

    So we loaded the top prairie part in the hearse and the woodland scene part in the back of my truck. I can only imagine what the neighbors thought. We were ready for the procession and in our vehicles and the undertaker abruptly took off his seat belt, came to my truck window and said, “Don’t forget to turn on your lights.” So I did and led the procession out of town and south on Hwy 63. Of course, the reason why did all this effort was to make sure that the display didnt get shaken to pieces, so I drove really slow–with my lights on; the undertaker behind me–with his lights on; for the seven mile (+-) trip to the Mahaska County Conservation Center.

    I think it is a testament to the respect and courtesy that Iowans have toward funerals, or what they perceive as a funeral. By the time we got to 200th Street I think we had about a mile of cars and trucks behind us. No one would pass us. We got to the Conservation and reassembled the display, all us of having a good laugh about the comedic scene of the procession from your Dad’s garage in New Sharon to the Conservation Center. Its almost as fun now recollecting it!

    Happy Birthday, Rayford. I miss him, too.

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