Sunday, June 22, 2008

Blacksmith Oscar

There is French proverb that says something to the effect, “See a pin and let it lie, you’ll need a pin before you die.” For Oscar Lindholm, it might be an old horse shoe or a piece of railroad track, or maybe even a bull’s skull. But he’ll squirrel it away for use later because he doesn’t believe in wasting anything. Oscar Lindholm, 88, is the ultimate recycler.
“In blacksmithing,” says Oscar. “The first rule is never throw anything away.”
And he doesn’t. For years he has scanned magazines like Western Horseman for ideas on things to make from scrap metal, old horse shoes, salvaged wire etc... Gate latches, boot jacks, toys, wall art, paper weights, dinner bells are just a few of his repertoire.
Oscar’s carried his unique smithy’s devotion to anti-waste and conservation habit since he first learned to shoe horses for the army back in the ‘30s. He remembers well learning the trade.
“When you first start, the more you hammer, the worse it gets.” says Oscar about his initial solo horse shoeing at Fort Mead, South Dakota for the Fourth Calvary in 1936. “I was sweating and swearing pretty good in both Swede and English,” he said and as Sergeant Sears, his superior at the time noted, “I guess he’ll make a pretty good blacksmith, he got the language right already.”
Items made by Oscar adorn residents and business in the Pikes Peak region from Cripple Creek to Black Forest — Colorado Springs, Woodland Park and points in between. He said he once was able to knock out five or six projects a day.
“Anymore, I’m getting nothing done. That’s what you get for living too damn long.”
And as far as social commentary on general conservation policy. “Nowadays you get a million dollars from the government to redo it, blah, blah blah. That’s progress”
Asked what he does with completed art work —if he sells items or not? “Sell them. Then I would have to make some more.”
Oscar has lived in same house in Green Mountain Falls since 1956. He retired from the Army in 1957. He and his wife, Elsie, raised their children there. She has been gone for 30 years. “But she has the best view of Pikes Peak in the cemetery,” he says of her resting place in Woodland Park Cemetery.
He’s proud of his grown children, Myrna, Marjorie, Larry, and Wayne, the later who he notes “doesn’t say much but is the best damn electrician in the United States.”
He can tell you how long every item in the place has been there. In the living room there, sets a his prized rocking chair that he purchased in Atlanta, Georgia in 1947. “I had it fixed a few years ago and now it’s better than ever.” The TV set that quit working 20 years ago is still there on the chance it can be fixed. And a pair of horns from “Old Tex” a bull’s head he salvaged from Mueller’s Hereford ranch. The skull itself rides above his work shop.
His white pickup, a 1973 Ford F-100, rests outside with various projects in various stages of completion. “I quit driving it a year ago.” His favorite things are there at the house, like rope makers that he’s made and is one of only a few who knows how to use it. And an old Cavalry bridle stamped with the Fourth Calvary, Machine Gun Troop designator, and shoes from Budweiser Clydesdales, and various items picked up “back when I used to drink beer.” Things like the sign that he wanted the city of Green Mountain Falls to put up that says “This is God’s country, don’t drive like hell through it.”
He says he hasn’t drank beer since he stopped 23 years ago.
But his workshop is full of pieces of iron, and steel — scraps of this and that, all things waiting for new uses at the hands of the ultimate recycler, Oscar Lindholm.

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