World War II Navy veteran Craig Allen, 92, spends most his days making furniture in his garage.
If you ever visit Bloomington, Indiana, you may see some of his work. The Adirondack chairs are typically painted pink, blue, or white, and sit only a few inches off the ground — the perfect height for small children.
Allen has been making children’s furniture in his garage for years. And each time he finishes a piece, he hands it off to local parents for free.
The nonagenarian has been woodworking for about 25 years. He used to make larger items like picnic tables, children’s swing sets and playhouses, the Associated Press reports. A heart condition and neurological issues have limited the carpenter to smaller projects these days. It’s much easier to carry around lumber for children’s furniture, and it doesn’t take up as much space in the garage.
No matter what he’s building, carpentry keeps Allen busy, keeps his mind active, and provides a benefit to his community.
“It’s been like a second lease on life,” Allen’s wife Susan told Associated Press. “Craig has always been a very active, physical person. He managed the warehouse at a construction company. He was involved in union activities. And he was always go, go, go, and for him to have to slow down, this has been a godsend for us. It’s something that he does that no one else does.”
Allen’s work has been greatly appreciated by local parents, especially during a challenging year. Heather Gustafson, mother of 1-year-old and 4-year-old daughters, was eager to accept Allen’s gift of two little chairs.
“Probably like everything else, that’s nice this year — it’s been a really hard year — it’s been really sweet to have an interaction with neighbors that’s uplifting,” Gustafson said. “Our little girls just love the chairs so much, they really do, they play with them anytime we’re outside and they love having something their size.”
Other chairs Allen made for a local preschool helped raise enough money for four computers. The veteran is happy to give his work away for free when it’s going to a good cause.
“He loves it,” Susan said. “There’s nothing like a baby’s smile to just set him for days. I think he gets more pleasure out of it than the children do.”
Of course, children are pretty happy with Allen’s chairs, too.
“The kids just get so excited about it,” Susan continued. “I’ve seen 3-year-olds try to carry these chairs with them. And frankly, they’re heavy wooden chairs.”
At the age of 92, Allen is showing no signs of giving up. In fact, his doctors recommend he keep up with the work for his own health.
“I’m real proud of what it is that he does, very much so,” Susan said. “It’s made a big difference in these aging years. It’s amazing what we can do that we don’t realize.”
“I honestly can’t see him quitting, I really can’t,” she continued. “The children are just so much fun. My guess is as long as they’re having children in the neighborhood, he’ll be making chairs. And he will say for himself, ‘I don’t play golf. My beer drinking days are long gone.’ This is his pleasure.”Whizzco