Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Archive for February, 2017

Canes, Walking Sticks and Quilts Designed by Philip Owen

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His walking sticks have been displayed at various festivals in our area. Here, Philip holds one of his favorites.

A soft-spoken gentleman exhibits a surprising hidden talent – taking pieces of wood, and turning them into beautiful canes and walking sticks with intricate designs.

Philip Owen made his first walking stick as a young boy of seven or eight years old in Rawlinsville, PA. Illness dominated his childhood, and Philip will admit, “I was spoiled rotten.” Often when walking to check on the cows, he would pick up a stick and begin carving it.

As a youngster, Philip had tuberculosis and was in a sanitarium for eleven months one time, and twenty-two months the next. During that last visit in 1946, Philip said he was “a streptomycin guinea pig”. They administered one hundred forty-four shots of streptomycin to Philip and one other young man. Both were cured. With this new discovery, it wasn’t long before the sanitarium was closed.

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His display of walking sticks and canes consists of some that he made and some he purchased from all over the world.

During his lifetime he has made, given away, traded or sold many walking sticks and canes. At this time, he is working on numbers 1105 and 1106 out of American chestnut, a rare wood with a beautiful grain. These creations have been shipped all over the world.

Many kinds of wood make up these walking sticks and canes. One of his favorite designs was free-lanced on PA rosebud. Since the canes and sticks must be strong as well as beautiful, he favors using maple, walnut and cherry wood. It might surprise you to learn that the structure of the sticks depends on whether an individual prefers using their right or left hand.

Hopalong Cassidy Cane

Festival attender checks out a Hopalong Cassidy Cane.

One thing of which he should be extremely proud is the fact that he has carved canes for five US Presidents – from Richard Nixon to George Bush. Even more interesting, he has received thank-you notes from all of them including their signatures. Philip hopes that his grandson will someday appreciate having those special treasures.

In 1988, Philip Owen’s nephew, Mike Huber, had a 40th birthday. Philip made a cane for him as a joke since Mike was now “going down hill”. Along with the birthday greetings, Philip said, “You are hereby appointed President of ANCC.” Those letters stood for American National Cane Collectors, which was later changed to the American National Cane Club to include makers, not just collectors. Philip volunteered to be the Secretary/Treasurer so they had two members. This organization’s newsletter became known as “The Twisted Stick.”

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My Gypsy Walking Stick leans against a special basket of flowers.

Two years ago, Philip carved a right-handed walking stick for this gypsy. He included some of my favorite things on the stick – bears. Many knots were cleverly turned into bear heads. On each stick, Philip puts his signature – a heart containing his initials and a cross in the center with John 3:16 under the heart. Above the heart is the number of the cane.

My walking stick almost always stays in the trunk of my car to be used when walking over rough territory, or even in the snow. Gypsy Bev is written around the top so it’s not bound to get mixed up with someone else’s.

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This bow tie quilt consists of 169 bow ties. Philip seems to make use of whatever he receives.

Family is very important to Philip, as he grew up in a loving family of twelve children. He was number eleven, his twin brother number twelve. His love of another hobby, quilting, began with his parents. His father cut out the squares for each of the twelve children to have “Grandmother’s Flower Garden”, then his mother sewed them together. Families are like quilts – pieced together and stitched with love.

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The necktie quilt is made of 145 neckties. No two are alike!

Quilts he has made include a novel “necktie quilt”. The idea came when a friend gave him a large pile of neckties. It seems Philip likes free things, in fact his wife often said, “Don’t offer Philip anything free, or he’ll take it.” And it appears he puts these things to creative use.

Right now he’s in the process of making a quilt called “Around the World” for a missionary in their church. He has 800 pieces laid out for the quilt. The center is red for the blood shed by Jesus, surrounded by white to signify salvation, and then a row of heavenly blue. The rest is alternate rows of print and solid colors. Even he admits, “I sometimes get carried away.”

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The framed piece of a quilt given to his grandfather is treasured by the family.

On the wall of his apartment, he proudly displays a picture of his grandfather. On each side are framed pieces of a quilt given to his grandfather by his church congregation. Philip’s sister took it apart as it was beginning to fray and framed a piece of it for each of the twelve children.

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One of Philip’s missions in life is to teach others to study the Bible.

Today Philip lives in Cambridge, Ohio where he keeps busy giving free lessons to those interested in making canes, walking sticks, baskets or wall plaques. He also teaches a special class on how to write you Life Story. Since he is a retired minister, he enjoys conducting Bible study at the Senior Center. When you consider that Philip is 88 years old, you can see why he feels blessed and wants to share his knowledge with others.

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This picture of Philip and his wife, Gene, was taken on their 50th wedding anniversary. They were married for 56 years.

Philip and his wife, Gene, had three children, who have followed in his footsteps. Joel and Philip are pastors, while daughter Barbara has served several years as a missionary. A grandson is following that path also, making four generations of pastors in their family. In Philip’s words, “The most important thing in life is to know God’s will…and do it.”

When asked if he wished he could have done anything else in life, Philip responded, “If I were able, I’d have a garbage collection business.” He sees so many things thrown away that could possibly be recycled into something new. His creative mind never sleeps.

 

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Coal Miner’s Statue -Unsung Heroes Remembered

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?

Another day older and deeper in debt

Those words rang true for the thousands of coal miners that lived in the vicinity of Guernsey County, Ohio during the early 1900s.

In order to honor these men and coal miners across the nation, a statue in their honor has been placed at the old train depot in Byesville, Ohio. This is no ordinary statue as it was commissioned by Alan Cottrill, internationally renowned sculptor, who has his studio in Zanesville.

The Train to Nowhere

These were busy tracks in their day, but today they have no traffic.

Why, you might ask, is this statue in Byesville? Why not place it in some larger city? Byesville was the coal capital of Ohio back in the early 1900s. Perhaps a hundred and fifty trains would roar down their tracks each day. Cars carried coal from Marietta to Cleveland and often into Canada.

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These volunteers were present for the dedication ceremonies.

Raising money for the statue was itself a challenge. Contributions came from local residents as well as all those who rode the now silent Byesville Scenic Railway. Total cost of this memorial was $40,000. So if you rode the train or visited their museum, perhaps you had a hand in making that statue become reality.

When you made a donation in any amount, you were given a badge saying:

I GAVE    COAL MINERS MEMORIAL    BYESVILLE OHIO

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This was no ordinary badge as it was designed very carefully. Each color on the badge had great significance.

Yellow stands for a beam of sunshine that sheds light on the darkness of the dungeon of a dark and gray mine.

Gray is for the rock/slate layers that are found above and below the seams of coal.

Black needs little explanation as it is the color of coal, also known as black diamonds, buried sunshine, or rocks that burn.

Red is for the color of blood that was spilled onto the ground from those who either lost their lives or were injured while working about the mine.

Bronze Coal Miner Statue

Bronze Coal Miner Statue

Everything on this bronze statue has meaning.

His hat gave him a place to hang his carbide light. This was the only light down in those coal black mines. The miner had to purchase the pellets to fill his carbide light…at the company store, of course.The coal mines gave them nothing. Why, they had to buy their own picks and dynamite! 

If you look closely at the statue, the miner’s brass tag reads 382, the number of coal miners who lost their lives in the deep mines of Guernsey County over the mines’ sixty active years.

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The sculpture pieces in Cottrill’s studio wait to be assembled.

The miner statue is missing his right index finger in honor of all the men injured in the mines. The dinner pail he carries was made by the Buckeye Aluminum Co. and was an important part of the miners day.

Many of those miners were immigrants, often called dumb hunkies  Everyone headed out to work swinging their dinner pail. The pails could not be set down on the mine floor or the rats, the miners’ mascot, would open them and eat their lunch. So miners always hung their dinner pails high on the mine wall.

A West Virginia ham sandwich was quite the treat. That ham by the way was what we call bologna.They always left a little something in their pail, just in case a cave in occurred and they might be below ground all night. If they made it safely through the day, the miners would let the children have their pails on the way home for a little snack.

From top to bottom each item has special significance from his hat to the dynamite at his feet.

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The dedication plaque at the statue

A portion of the plaque behind the statue states:

May the personal sufferings, sacrifices and the hardships endured by your families, never be forgotten nor taken for granted.

May the memory of these unsung heroes live on for generations.

The Coal Miner Memorial Statue can be found in Byesville, Ohio off I-77. Take Exit 41 and head into the small town of Byesville. Turn left on Second Street and two blocks down on the right hand side you will see the old train depot. The statue stands in front of the depot.

Trail Run- A Coal Mining Town

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This overview of Trail Run shows many of the homes, the church and the mines.

In the valley between Byesville and Buffalo, the small town of Trail Run can still be found. Years ago this town was a booming coal mining area with 2000 residents. Let’s take a trip back in time to see what this town was like in the early 1900s.

Originally, this area served as home to the Delaware Indians, who lived along Rocky Bottom until the early 1800s. They traded lead for whiskey along their trail beside the run.

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Men worked in the mines to provide for their families.

After the Indians were chased westward, this area had only a few scattered homes. But when coal was discovered in 1888, the town of Trail Run, officially called Robins, began. This town had two strong coal mines. The coal vein was best at No. 1 mine, where it was 6′ thick.

Many working these mines were Slovaks, Russians and Hungarians – about 1000 of them. When they arrived at Ellis Island, immigrants were greeted with signs written in their native language telling them where jobs were available. Most of the coal miners could not speak English so perhaps a sign in Slovak held up near the dock would have told them that jobs were open in the coal mines in Trail Run.

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Trail Run Mine No. 2 is shown just before closing in 1928.

Life in the coal mines was difficult but better than being hungry. Cambridge Collieries built about fifty houses in Trail Run so the coal miners would have a place to live. Rent was $12 a month for a small house on a dirt street, which had no name.

Church attendance, baseball and beer were three of their main forms of recreation in the early 1900s. Since the mines were closed on Sunday, that was their day for a little entertainment. Later, a pool hall, dance hall and bowling alley were added.

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St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Church served as home church for many of the Slavs, who worked in the mines.

Miners attended one of two churches in Trail Run. St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Church welcomed the Slovaks, which made up a large percentage of the miners. Others attended Bethlehem Methodist, which still exists today.

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St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Church had a large children’s class in  1914.

Five baseball diamonds could be found there. The coal mining towns all played each other, but there was a special rivalry between Upper Trail Run and Lower Trail Run. Baseball provided a great form of relaxation, which the families could watch and enjoy.

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Sikora’s Grocery on the corner of Trail Run Road and Robins Road was a popular place for supplies.

Often after the games, players would gather somewhere to drink a couple beers. There were two saloons in town. One of those bars, The Cave, was under Sikora’s Grocery. Or families might go to Williams or Checks stores for ice cream or candy.

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Men enjoyed visiting after church at Williams’ store.

Another way they might get something to drink happened in connection with the railroad. Cambridge Brewery would ship box car loads of beer barrels. If one just happened to fall from the train, a big party would ensue.

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Every day at least a hundred cars loaded with coal left Trail Run mines

Miners usually obtained free coal for their homes in much the same way. Since a hundred cars of coal left Trail Run daily, there was a good chance that coal might fall (or be accidentally pushed) from the train cars filled with coal. The children of the family would walk along the tracks picking up coal in a burlap sack, so their mother could cook and heat the house.

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Railroad track ran close to the first school at Trail Run in 1900.

The first school built in 1895 had a train track running beside it. When a train came by it was necessary to shut the windows to keep out the noise and the smoke.

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In 1923, this three-story, brick Community School provided education to grades 1-12.

However, in the 1930s, the mines shut down because people could get coal cheaper in West Virginia, Kentucky or Tennessee. Miners had to look elsewhere for employment. Some walked to work at nearby Senecaville, while others headed to Akron and Cleveland to work in the rubber and steel factories there. Population in Trail Run dwindled quickly.

Drive slowly through Trail Run some day while remembering those brave men and women who worked so hard to support their families in the only way they knew. Miners learned the value of hard work by working hard.

Trail Run is located in Ohio in Guernsey County south of Cambridge. Easiest route would be to take I-77, Exit 41 and head south on Vocational Road. Just past Bethlehem Methodist church, turn left on Robins Road. You will now head straight into Trail Run. Enjoy the adventure.

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