He’s not Santa, and he says he doesn’t want to be, but the sights and sounds of his shop in Cando resemble what you might think of when it comes to the North Pole.
In this week’s Someone You Should Know, we meet a man who stays busy with a hobby that’s near and dear to his heart.
Eighty-nine-year-old Bob Curl is a retired farmer with a talent and a love for building.
“I’ve had a lot of fun doing this. Just a ball, ” he said.
He’s a husband, a dad, a grandpa, and although a heart condition keeps him from flying, he’s a pilot, too. Plus, he’s become quite the toymaker.
“It keeps me young,” he said. “It keeps my mind busy, you know? Doing things like making all of these intricate things, there’s always a problem that arises. I’ve had a hard time making those tracks.”
The tracks he’s referring to are the 70 tiny, individual wooden pieces on this (see video) dozer.
This is one of the many toys he’s built over the years.
It’s got just about everything you can think of. Levers, shift pedals and the tracks are functional, too.
“Yeah, they’re pretty accurate,” he said as he assessed his work.
But his toy-making hasn’t always been so meticulous.
It started back when he was just 9 years old.
The trailer that’s hauled behind this tractor – which is a replica of the one his dad used to drive – is one of the first toys he’s ever made.
It’s made of a cheese box and an old empty can of smoking tobacco.
While he remembers rolling it around, there are a lot of other memories tied to this toy, too.
Curl said, “I can still see him [his dad] rolling a cigarette. Taking the can out, putting tobacco in, turning it like this, twisting the end and [grabbing] a match.”
He’s made model airplanes, and built a real one, too!
He did it right here, in his Quonset in Cando not too far from his home.
This is also where he’s made countless toy cars.
“All it is is a block of wood, a 2 x 4, four wheels and one spare tire back here. I’ve given these away. I’ve shipped them to Montana, Grand Forks, and I’ve given them to pretty much every kid in town that I know.”
He says they take him just a couple of hours.
This one, in fact, is going to a lucky boy in town who had a tag on the local Giving Tree.
“In spite of the fact that we have a lot of high technology today, I mean, just pretending that you’re hauling a load of something or other on that truck, and you’ve got another load on the back of it,” Curl said with a chuckle, “To me, well that’s the way I grew up! Always pretending.”
While Bill Curl is no Santa Claus…
“I like to give the kids toys before Christmas because I don’t want to overshadow their grandpa or their dad, or their mom, you know?”
…he sure is Someone You Should Know.
Curl is also walking history. He has tons of stories he could tell based on the things he’s lived through and continues to live through – including right now.
He calls it ‘COVID-season,’ and said he’s lucky to have a hobby like this one because meeting with friends just isn’t in the cards right now.