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Hobbyist displays modeling, painting talents

February 03, 1998|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

Hobbyist displays modeling, painting talents

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The Gen. Jackson is John Sauder's favorite.

Sauder and his wife Thelma took a cruise on the Nashville paddle wheeler, so he felt he had to build a model of it for himself.

The Gen. Jackson was crafted in the cellar of Sauder's pre-Civil War house in the 100 block of West Main Street in Waynesboro. It's confined, crowded and jammed with hand tools, power tools, heater ducts, overhead plumbing, a furnace and a low ceiling.

Sauder loves it. He spends most winter days there with his tools, talent and patience, fashioning models, some of which are nearly three feet long. He emerges in the spring only when his garden beckons.

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Sauder's cellar is also the birthplace of the Blue Nose, a model of a Grand Banks fishing schooner, the USS United States, the luxury liner launched to compete with the likes of the Queens Mary and Elizabeth, and the USCG Taney, a Coast Guard cutter that survived the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Sauder and Thelma have seen the real ships on various vacations.

His newest model, started in October, like the rest built approximately on a 1:90 scale, is of the Royal Caribbean cruise line's Monarch of the Seas ship, on which the Sauders sailed.

It takes up to six months to finish a model, said Sauder, who has displayed his models in schools, the local senior center and at last year's bicentennial craft show.

Sauder, 77, turned to serious model-making in 1985 when he retired after 11 years of working at Grove Worldwide. He started making models of ships and planes when he was a kid, he said.

He also carves birds, makes miniature houses and buildings, clocks and music boxes, and has been painting just about all of his life. His paintings are on nearly every wall in the house. His finely crafted furniture - tables, bookcases and shelves - is in nearly every room.

"My ability to craft things comes from my Pennsylvania Dutch ancestors," Sauders said. "I guess I started to build things ever since I was able to put a couple of boards together."

His father worked for the Landis Clock Co. in Waynesboro until the 1920s, when he moved the family to New Jersey to take a job with a school district.

"His job was maintaining all of the clocks in the system. They had one in just about every classroom. They were program clocks that used to ring the classroom bells. They were made by Landis in Waynesboro. My father used to build them, so he figured he could repair them," Sauders said.

Sauders met Thelma in school in New Jersey. He served in the Army Air Corps in the Southwest Pacific during World War II and they were married in 1946. The couple returned to the area so Sauders could work on the family farm, a job he held for 27 years until 1974, when he went to work for Grove.

"Yes, I'm proud of him. The whole family is," Thelma said of her husband's craftsmanship. "When he gets a boat done, he starts a painting. He's always busy. He has a wonderful imagination."

"In other words, I'm a hobbyist," Sauder said.

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