Upper St. Clair resident, 92, utilizing woodworking skills
Almost every piece of wooden furniture in Ed Houck's two-bedroom apartment was built by hand, from the tea-cart he made not long after marrying his wife, Ann, to the giant clock rising behind her chair.
Using a book of classic American furniture designs from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and, for the past four years the wood shop at Friendship Village, his Upper St. Clair retirement community, Houck, 92, has turned out numerous pieces of furniture and four standing clocks.
“In the wintertime, when I can't play golf, I spend about an hour down here each day,” said Houck, a former engineer and World War II bomber pilot, as he stood among tools and work benches.
Much of the furniture he makes goes to his three grandchildren: two grandsons living in the North Side, and a granddaughter in the South Hills.
He's made four clocks, including the “grandmother clock” in his living room (a term used to describe standing clocks that are shorter and thinner than grandfather clocks) and the granddaughter clock (even shorter) in his bedroom. The ornate scrolling and finials on the cherry wood casings were made with the wood shop's tools; the clock faces and mechanisms were ordered online. Each clock takes about four months to make.
Houck said he'd been interested in woodworking from an early age growing up in the Philadelphia suburbs, and had a good example in his father, who made the drop-leaf table sitting in Houck's second bedroom. The book of plans he uses, “Early American Furniture,” was originally his father's.
“Back in my time, most boys took woodworking classes in grade school and high school,” Houck said. “Dad, as a machinist, could do wonderful woodwork.”
In addition to building furniture, Houck paints and makes pottery in the art studio next to the wood shop. Several of his paintings will be displayed in a temporary gallery of resident-made art opening Thursday in the community's main dining area, said Kelly Michel, arts and communications coordinator for Friendship Village. When the current round of renovations is complete in the next year or so, there will be a permanent gallery space for residents.
The studio and shop are part of the community's goal of “Fit Six” — fitness in the vocational, spiritual, intellectual, emotional, social and physical realms, Michel said.
“It's an outlet for (the residents), a way to be creative and a way to be together,” she said. “Mr. Houck is just a terrific guy to have around here. If anybody asks for anything, he's the first guy they go to.”
Houck, who turns 93 soon, said he's been fortunate to remain active — building furniture, painting, working with ceramics, golfing, tying fly-fishing lures.
“I've just been lucky. Just sheer luck,” he said.
Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Add Matthew Santoni to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Moon assesses ways to help struggling Mooncrest
- Churchill teens putting Irish dancing skills on world stage
- Western Pa. school districts address e-cigarettes
- Western Pa. nurses who served during Vietnam invited to tea in their honor
- Pittsburgh Botanic Garden ready to bloom again
- 2nd hotel planned in McCandless
- Upper St. Clair revisits district budget
- Kennedy man knocks out book about one-of-a-kind collection
- Franklin Park zoning board outlines decision on exemptions
- Young Achiever: John Ehling
- Regional winners of National History Day contest posted