EATON — Carroll Buehner has had a knack for being crafty for as long as he can remember.
But the 85-year-old resident of Vancrest of Eaton has taken his crafting skills to a new level while under quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic over the past 18 months.
Buehner, a 1953 graduate of Camden High School, began making scale models of buildings from around the area with leftover cardboard and waste materials.
It started with making a replica of the farm he grew up on and later owned on Wayne Trace Road.
“We always did all of our own repair work,” Buehner said. “It started with drawing pictures and painting while in quarantine. I decided I was going to build a model of my own farm. Everybody liked it so well I just kept expanding it from there.”
Over the past year Buehner has built the Roberts Bridge, National Trail High School, which was on display during the school’s graduation, the Preble County Courthouse and and several buildings for employees and residents of Vancrest.
“Now they want me to build a Carnival cruise ship,” he laughed.
Buehner said at times it’s difficult to make the replicas due to health issues.
“I’ve got arthritis so bad in my hand, a couple of people in here don’t know how I do this because I shake so bad,” he said. “It’s difficult.”
He’s been told he’s talented.
“People have told me that I’ve got more abilities than anybody they’ve ever seen. Well, maybe I have, maybe I haven’t, I don’t know,” he said. “I just enjoy doing things.”
He’s currently working on completing an airplane for an employee who has a relative who is a stewardess, and the cruise ship will follow.
“One day, (someone) said, ‘Give him some cardboard and some glue and paint and he’ll make anything.’ It’s a challenge. They laughed at me when they told me to make the airplane. I said I’m gonna make it,” he said. “Now I’m gonna make that cruise ship.”
He nearly lost his life in a farming accident in the early ’80s.
“In 1981, my farm tractor rolled over on top of me. And for months, well for a year and a half, I probably spent a year in the hospital because they never expected me to ever live,” Buehner said. “And after that, they said I wasn’t capably of farming or anything and so I would build picture frames and birdhouses and little things where I could sit down or stand up and that’s really when I started really getting into crafts and stuff like that. But I’ve really had that ability, I guess, all my life.”
He’s been a resident of Vancrest for three years.
”I really enjoy it in here. There’s a bunch of nice people and the majority of them really treat me nice and I’ve tried to treat them that way to,” he said.
Nick White, Director of Assisted Living at Vancrest, said Buehner is a community leader.
”He’s definitely one of the community organizers of the building. He brings people together. Kind of the leader,” White said. “He does take a leader role and cares about the people here. Cares about the people he lives with. “
White said Buehner enjoys working on the projects.
”He definitely seems to be passionate about it,” White said. “I think everyone embraced it and I think he really enjoyed it. He cares about it and when people come to him with something they’re interested in he’s not one to be like ‘oh we’ll see’ or brush it off. He’ll go right back to his apartment and he’ll do something about it. What he’s doing is special. Whether he recognizes that or not.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on Twitter @emowenjr