Wood shop

Mr. Woolen

“Mr. Woolen’s wood working club was also special. The first year of East Hill he offered this after school in the basement of the boarding house he lived in up the hill from the school. We paid for materials but he offered us his guidance and use of this tools. He had only hand tools but he encouraged kids to make whatever they wanted to.

I made a ping pong table. The top at 4’ by 9’ was a special order and came as a full sheet. The plans called for it to be cut in half. Cutting a 4’ sheet of ply wood with a hand saw was a good work out. He helped me all the way through the project and we had the table in our basement for years.

In the second year as he was getting older he gifted his tools to the school and we worked there. I also remember he visited our home to help set up the table the first time. Afterwards he shared a drink with my dad who when he left shared with me Mr. Woolen was not a believer in the open school format of East Hill.” – Sid Bardwell

“Mr. Woolen was an amazing human being. The time that he spent with us was precious. Learning to make things and sharing Archway cookies or “Good Will Pills”(Butterscotch candies) was something quite special. His patience while teaching woodworking was inspirational.

I am not sure that I have known very many people over the years whose selfless contributions to the community have been of such great magnitude. Sometimes one encounters someone whose gifts are too numerous to count, whose example leaves a lifelong impression, and hopefully whose spirit lives on in those peoples lives who were touched by the experience. Such a man was Sellman Woolen, a kind hearted man whose spirit lives on in all who knew him.” – Rex Nordheimer

Doug Dylla and Richard Ware?

“My favorite colleague was Doug Dylla.  He always operated at such high energy and always choosing the most positive directions.  After the initial gift of tools from  Mr. Woolen,  Doug ran the woodshop almost entirely with scrounged materials. 

Doug Dylla, with Elena Deustua and Blake Smith

His program to build mountain dulcimers…the start of Richie Stearn’s banjo and life vector… came from the discovery that Japanese motorcycle shipping crates were made from grade B Philippine Mahogany, beautiful wood that only had a few nail holes.  That taught us to look for treasures in trash piles.” – Bill Mutch

(Richie Stearns is a nationally known banjo player.)

“THE story about the woodshop was Doug Dylla helping Richie Stearns build his first banjo.  Last time I asked Richie about it…just a couple of years ago…he still had it.” – Bill Mutch

“The projects with Bill Mutch really got me started in building things. I still enjoy woodworking in my spare time. In my memory we built a railroad hand cart with old car wheels without the tires, and plumbing pipe and fittings. Then we built a canvas canoe frame.” – Sid Bardwell

” I was the lady who taught shop. Like making things. Before he left to do other things I worked with Doug Dylla.” – Polly Joan

“Dan Lee helping me in the wood shop, to make a jigsaw puzzle, perhaps featuring a sailboat.” – Erica Peters

“My brothers spent a lot of time in the wood shop. I remember being very jealous of their school experience. I was at Boynton.” – Kathleen Halton

Matthew and Emily Lyons, with a wooden sword from the Wood Shop

“Apparently, yes, a pirate. And it looks like there’s a wooden sword stuck in my belt. I don’t remember wearing this costume, but I do remember making wooden swords at the East Hill woodshop.” – Matthew Lyons

“…ooh, so do I! And boats.” – Karen Carr

“Yes! I made boats, too!” – Matthew

“In the wood shop (which was the end of the gym partitioned off), all the tools hung on the walls and their places were painted under them. You had to pass different qualification courses and get a certificate before you could use various tools: first Initiate, then Apprentice, then Journeyman and Master. Most people never made it past Apprentice.

Of course we all made swords, and then wooden boats. There was a lot of discussion of rudders that would keep the boats from falling over. Then we all made jigsaw puzzles out of painted boards, on the power jigsaw, and gave them as Christmas presents.

One month we were all cutting off Coke bottles and sanding them down to make drinking glasses. Lloyd Benson made a real table, though, with lathe-turned legs.” – Karen Carr

Published by Karen Carr

Dr. Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

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