Charles Mound Sr., a Poland High School class of 1951 graduate, has a hobby that keeps him busy in his retirement years. He is one of a couple dozen wood carvers who meet at senior centers to perfect their hobby.
"I started carving after a vacation trip to Branson, Mo., back in 1990," Mound said. "I had seen a carver working and I just got interested in it."
In 1995, he joined a wood carvers' group that had formed at the Youngstown Senior Center. Working with other carvers, he was able to pick up tricks of the trade that made his own carvings better.
Photo by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Poland graduate Charles Mound Sr. and his son, Charles Mound Jr., whittle away in a carving class at the Austintown Senior Center recently.
When it comes to his own carvings, he specializes in one specific figure.
"I carve Santa Clauses," he said.
Mound has four children and he said he will carve four Santas each year and give one to each. He has done that every year since he started and said one of his daughters is now passing her collection on to her own children.
He said carving takes time and safety is an issue. The carving tools are generally very sharp. Mound wears a special glove with a thumb insert of heavy material that protects him from getting cut. It also allows him to exert pressure on the back of a blade handle without hurting his thumbnail.
"If you hold a knife right and hold it rigid, you can't cut your thumb," he said.
Last month, Mound was among a dozen members of the informal carvers group that moved their classes to the Austintown Senior Center. The group meets there every Thursday and works on pieces that range from small mice for beginners, to very involved work such as a framed Abraham Lincoln head. Some are even working on walking sticks to donate to needy elderly and injured people.
To join the group, one can either become a member of the center, or can pay $20 for just the carvers group. The fee for Austintown Senior Center membership is $36 a year. For Austintown residents it is free because a tax levy supports it.
As for Mound, he doesn't attend alone. His son, Charles Mound Jr. from Boardman, has taken up the hobby with his dad and they are joined by Mound's daughter Patty McSuley, also from Boardman. Patty likes making monk figurines that she enjoys giving away. She said she actually started carving about the same time her father did.
"My dad found another trade," she said. "And I got into it too."