Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘children’

Ventriloquist Dean Bohl and Chester Encourage Audiences by Spreading Happiness

Chester and Dean

Dean and Chester teach life lessons in their school presentations.

Things are not always as they appear.

Crowds gathered around when Dean Bohl came to Dickens Victorian Village with his Twisted Balloons and Chester. The young and young at heart enjoy his charades with Chester, while children can be seen running proudly down the street holding one of his balloon sculptures.

Opening Night Balloons baby

This youngster enjoyed her balloon doll at Dickens Victorian Village’s Opening Night.

   Dean has been entertaining since he was in his late thirties when he decided to use ventriloquism, balloons, and magic to motive and encourage his audience. He twists his balloons into intriguing characters that the children enjoy.

   Chester Sidney Dolittle is this ventriloquist’s best friend on stage. His sidekick Chester, an eight-year-old, becomes so real that people forget he is a puppet. He tells the audience, “Girls are beautiful. Boys have stinky feet.”

Opening Ventriloquist

A crowd gathered as he selected a Living Puppet to add some fun.

   An unusual section of his performance involves an unsuspecting audience member, who becomes his “Living Puppet.” A mask is placed on the person’s face and he becomes the voice from Dean Bohl. Fun and excitement happen next as they sing, tell jokes, recite poetry, and become involved in interesting conversations.

  As a youngster, Dean’s mother developed polio and was told her condition would require institutionalization. But during her hospital stay, she had a dream where Jesus visited her and when she woke up, she told them, “Jesus is going to make me better.” Three weeks later she walked out of the hospital.

   This miracle changed the course of their family’s life and Dean at the age of 16 felt a call to follow the path his parents had taken. On his mind previously, this White Sox fan wanted to follow a career in professional baseball. Now, he decided, “God, give me peace and joy of living. I’ll do what you want me to do.”

Dean at birtrhday party with unicorn (2)

Balloon unicorns were popular at a recent birthday party.

   For several years, Dean was a pastor in Illinois and then decided to be an associate pastor was more to his calling where he worked with children and choir. He received encouragement from those around him and moved his family to a church in San Diego, CA where puppets entered the scene as a way to reach children.

   It seemed he was always in the right place at the right time as people just appeared when he needed to learn something new. Chester was made especially for Dean by a popular San Diego Ventriloquist Co. and became part of his life in October 1978.

Dean and Chester (3)

Dean and Chester entertain the crowds wherever they appear.

   The puppet’s name came from three sources. “Chester” was the name given by the company while “Sidney “ was the name of the pastor, who believed in Dean when he started his puppet ministry. “Dolittle” of course, came easily as Chester doesn’t do much! Dean then developed Chester’s voice and personality before their first show together on Christmas Eve.

   Since then, Dean and Chester have developed a special connection. Things come from Chester that they had never intended to say. Sometimes the conversation between the two of them is so fast that it sounds like both are talking at the same time.

Dean and Judy

Dean and his wife Judy encourage others wherever they go.

   Dean and his wife had two small children at this time so carefully discussed their new idea of traveling the United States with a puppet show. His understanding wife told him, “If we don’t do this, we will always wonder if it would have worked.” The traveled the road for a few years before settling in Dublin, Ohio.

   Along the way, he met someone in a store who asked him what he gave away at his shows. They suggested he make balloon creatures and it just happened that a balloon artist walked into the store. The right people always seemed to show up as part of God’s plan for his life.

Dean Flower Bouquet

A balloon bouquet makes a perfect and memorable gift.

   Twisted balloons are a special feature of his program and he has developed a unique way of combining three to five balloons to make Star Wars lightsabers, princess lighted rings, teddy bears, OSU football helmets and the list goes on. Ideas are shared with balloon artists all over the world.

Dean and Live Puppet

You never know what Dean has planned for the Live Puppet.

   He stumbled upon his idea for the “Living Puppet” from a show he witnessed in England and New Zealand. This is a more recent addition to his program. A man in the Phillippines makes his masks for him so Dean can control them from behind – just like a regular puppet. He is blessed with wonderful connections.

   His school programs not only entertain but also teach a lesson. In one skit, Chester calls people names and makes fun of them, but then Dean calls Chester a “Dummy” and Chester gets so upset he hides in his box and won’t come out. Calling names may seem funny but someone always gets hurt in the process. “Once you get a reputation, it is hard to shake it.”

    Or Chester might find a beautiful balloon apple on the ground. When he picks it up, a balloon worm pops out. “Things can be beautiful on the outside and not so perfect on the inside.”

Dean at travel show (2)

His balloons were an added attraction at a recent travel show at the Columbus Convention Center.

   Now Dean is retired, but he still looks forward to being with people and having fun. Life lessons seem to pop into his shows naturally. You might find him entertaining at fairs, birthday parties, school assemblies, camps, corporate events, and more.

   Watch for Dean Bohl and Chester in your neighborhood as they spread a little happiness to those that stop by. You might even get into the act!

Contact Dean to set up a performance by calling his cell phone at 614-314-0696 or email him at puppetman3@yahoo.com. Dean has moved so the address on the card is no longer correct.

Dean Calling Card

The Sharpest Edge Around – Warther Cutlery

Warther's signature Single Pliers

Warther’s signature Single Pliers

World’s Master Carver Ernest Warther spent a life-time in Dover, Ohio. When Ernest was three years old, his father died leaving the children to help support the family. While the youngsters were unable to attend school regularly, Ernest’s inborn abilities surfaced by chance along life’s path.

For a penny a day, young Ernest did his part by driving neighborhood cows outside of town to pasture, then returning them home in the evening. When five-year-old Ernest was driving cattle, he spotted a treasure on the ground. A pen knife! His life’s adventure was about to begin.

A few years later Ernest met a whittling hobo at the local train station. This hobo could form a small piece of wood into a moving pair of pliers by making only ten strategically placed cuts in the small, rectangular, wooden block.

Ernest, called Mooney by his friends, watched the hobo carefully before he headed off to another town. Soon Mooney was making these magical pieces with ease. During his lifetime it is estimated he made nearly 750,000 pairs of pliers, most of which he gave to children. His fastest time for carving a pair of pliers occurred on the Johnny Carson “Tonight Show” when Mooney finished in 9.4 seconds.

Whittling became Mooney’s favorite pasttime, now making double pliers and more. But as is often the case, one thing leads to another. What do you need the most for whittling, especially ebony and ivory? A sharp knife! That was something Mooney could not find. Sometimes the best way to do something is to do it yourself, so Mooney developed a knife that would keep its sharp edge.

These are the knives Mooney used himself with  their accompanying 139 blades.

These are the knives Mooney used himself with their accompanying 139 blades.

In his workshop, Mooney developed techniques for tempering and sharpening steel blades so they would hold their sharpness. For whittling purposes, the knife had to have a big handle with small blades – shorter than his thumb. His knife had 139 interchangeable blades so he could work easily with any material of any size.

Warther Cutlery knife shop

Warther Cutlery knife shop

When his mother needed a sharper paring knife in the kitchen, seventeen-year-old Mooney created a small kitchen knife for her. Soon the neighbors were all wanting a knife just like Mooney’s mother used.He added a distinguishing trademark swirl on the blade so his knives were easily recognized. Thus began the business of Warthers Cutlery, handcrafted in the USA since 1902.

Realizing his real riches laid at home, his five daily hours of carving were scheduled for early in the morning before the family awoke. After breakfast, Mooney would ride his bicycle to work at the steel mill, then spend time in the afternoon playing with the children he adored. He didn’t really care much for money; however, when the family needed something, Mooney would make knives. He never sold his carvings.

In 1912, Mooney ended his whittling with a plier tree that can be seen in a glass case today.The tree was made with 511 cuts and was featured at Ripley’s Believe It or Not. This is the point where his whittling turned to carving as he began his history of the steam engine in walnut, ebony, and ivory.

Commando Knives made during WWII.

Commando Knives made during WWII.

During WWII, a lady asked Mooney to make a knife for her son to carry with him during conflict. Mooney made 1100 Commando Knives during this time and carved the names of the military men into the handles.

Family member, Steven Cunningham, makes pliers for children today.

Family member, Steven Cunningham, makes pliers for children today.

Today the knives of Warther Cutlery are still made in Dover, Ohio with all USA products by third and fourth generation family members. They continue demonstrating Mooney’s signature pair of pliers for visitors, with children usually receiving the newly carved pair.

Before you leave, stop by the gift shop and purchase one of the Warther Cutlery knives with swirl trademark. My little paring knife, “Old Faithful”, was purchased there over twenty-five years ago and is still like new. Whenever you happen to be in the area, visit their knife shop where they will sharpen your Warther knife for life at no cost. When you stop by, they will ask you which hand you use to cut with, so they can sharpen the blade accordingly. They strive for perfection!

Older residents still remember Mooney riding his bicycle down the middle of the road with his white hair flying. The basket on his bicycle was always handy for items he found or was given along the way that eventually might become part of his carvings, either mechanically or in their design. While Ernest Warther worked at his passion nearly every day for 83 years, he died almost penniless, but happy beyond imagination.

Warthers can be found easily off I-77 in Dover, Ohio. Take Exit 83 to the east and follow the well placed signs to Warthers.

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