- Associated Press - Sunday, July 6, 2014

BOONEVILLE, Miss. (AP) - Heaven is about 10 acres on the Tuscumbia Watershed, the best-kept secret in Prentiss County.

That’s where Bob Krick’s wife keeps her garden and where he has his shop.

“It’s my home away from home,” the 79-year-old said of his shop, which is separated from the house only by an attached garage. “You come out here, you can forget about time. It keeps me out of trouble.”

As far back as he can remember, Krick’s had an interest in working with his hands.

“When I was boy, we had an old chicken coop that was converted into a tool shed. I would go there and make all kinds of stuff, like wooden scooters with roller-skate wheels,” said Krick, wearing suspenders patterned after a carpenter’s measuring tape.

He can still hear his grandmother’s worries, and how she repeated, “You’re going to hurt yourself. You’re going to hurt yourself.”

And to be fair, Krick is self-taught, so those early attempts with electricity caused a few sparks.

“No telling how many fuses I blew before I figured it out,” he said.

His early days were spent in Hamburg, Pennsylvania. He later served a stint in the Marines, got out for a while, then joined the Army and made it a career.

He didn’t have much of a shop during his military days, but he had friends, as well as others who wanted things.

“The barter system was alive and well,” he said. “I needed legal work done, but I didn’t have money to pay the lawyer. He said, Can you make a counter for the front of my office?’ I said, Sure.’”

After the military, he took a series of jobs in the Northeast and Midwest with companies that kept going broke. He decided to look South.

“I called a buddy I was in the Army with. I said, I’m coming to Ripley.’ He said, Good,’” Krick recalled. “That was in 1980; since then, I’ve had ups and downs, good times and rough times, but it’s settled down.”

Through it all, he’s had his hobby, though it hasn’t always been a hobby. He spent several years teaching cabinet-making and millwork to students in Corinth.

His students came to him one day looking for a challenge, and Krick remembered a 1740 handkerchief table with a folding top he’d seen in a magazine.

“They made 10 of them out of different kinds of wood,” Krick said.

He made one for himself out of black cherry that sits in his guest bedroom. He also crafted one each for his daughter and granddaughter.

In effect, Krick is in the early stages of an antique business. All he needs is for his creations to survive for a few generations.

“I feel like I’ve got to be a perfectionist on some things,” he said.

Krick made his grandson a writing table based on the one Thomas Jefferson used when he wrote the Declaration of Independence.

“He was tickled to death to get that,” Krick said.

He built a musical jewelry box for his wife, and she cried when he gave it to her.

“It was just too sweet,” Lucy Krick said.

A stepdaughter asked for a wall armoire to hold jewelry. It’s in process and was sitting on Krick’s homemade shop table.

Much of his work goes to family, but not all. He enjoys making wooden bowls and giving them away.

“People say bring them to the fall festival, but it’s not something I want to sell,” he said. “The look on their faces makes you feel good inside. It’s something you made and they appreciate it.

“I could sell them, but you can’t sell everything you make. Sometimes, you just have to give it away.”

Several years ago, a guy asked if Krick could repair his violin. The answer turned out to be yes, and Krick was intrigued.

He heard about a violin maker from Verona who died, so he met the man’s widow and bought a violin. He took it apart, put it back together and sold it, and repeated the process.

“Then one day, I said, ‘You need to make one of these things before you die,’” Krick said. “I got to liking it so much that I made one after another.”

It’s exacting work that appealed to Krick’s perfectionist tendencies.

“A violin has to be right,” he said. “There is no right and wrong about it. It has to be right.”

He has a stockpile that he’d tried to sell for $1,500 a piece, and recently cut the price to $800.

“But people around here think $150 is way too much,” he said. “Any violins I’ve sold were out of state.”

No matter what happens to the others, one violin isn’t going anywhere. He spotted a batch of tiger maple on sale on eBay for more than $200, and asked a friend to buy it.

The friend said the purchase had been made but the wood never arrived. Krick was getting worried.

“I was sitting on the back deck and my girls came up with it and said, Here it is Papa.’ They’d bought it for me for Father’s Day,” he said, moments after playing “Ashokan Farewell” on the tiger maple violin. “I’m not going to sell this one.”

The shop’s always ready when he is, and there’s no shortage of projects.

“I’ve slowed down but not much,” Krick said. “If something gives me an idea, I’ll do it. I’ll get down and do a drawing and just do it.”

It should be noted that the bit of heaven he shares with his wife has a fishing lake, so Krick doesn’t have to go to his shop unless he wants to.

“I always say if a man has to be told what to do when he’s retired, he’s not retired,” Krick said. “I can always find something to do.”

___

Information from: The Commercial Dispatch, http://www.cdispatch.com

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