American Heirlooms - July 2019


JULY 2019


When I was growing up, my dad had a large General Motors (GM) van. It featured a full suspension, and passengers would jostle around as it rode over potholes and bumps. Good luck trying to read a book on those rides! So when my family began shopping for a van recently, I knew one feature was necessary: a smooth riding suspension. There was just one problem with this: GM stopped making the half-ton suspension years ago, and it’s rare to find one. Our old van couldn’t even fit additional friends as passengers anymore, and it was starting to look pathetic. It had done what we needed it to do for so many years, but the thousands of miles we put on it and the rust were starting to add up. We began our search by looking at the latest vans that were available, including the Chevy Express 2500, a Nissan van, and the Ford Transit. Some designs were rather unique; others were just plain ugly. So, we kept looking, saving, and making the best of our old van. Eventually, I stumbled upon a Chevy 1500 — with the half-ton suspension included — for sale on eBay. It had the works, including electric windows and air conditioning. It was perfect, but the seller wouldn’t answer my inquiries. I was only able to get responses from his daughter (who had made the eBay listing), but her answers to my questions were vague and unrelated.

this one to funeral homes, which meant its corpse passengers weren’t smashing their Happy Meals across the floor and seats. Instead, the interior was nearly perfect. With a precautionary round-trip ticket in hand, I boarded a plane for Chicago. If all went well, I would be road-tripping home. If it wasn’t the deal we thought it would be, I would be back on a plane. The man picked me up at the airport, and he gave me free reign to inspect it. Everything appeared to be just what we were looking for, and by that suppertime that Friday, we were the pleased owners of a new van. I drove off for Delaware that evening, eventually stopping at a motel for the night to rest. I made it home in time for church on Saturday evening, but I still missed the “glamping” adventure my family had the night before. They pitched borrowed tents around our backyard, had a hot dog roast, and enjoyed all the luxuries of home in the great outdoors. Meanwhile, I was sequestered to the road with our new purchase. Despite a few misadventures, we are very happy with our van. The tires have a bit of dry rot, but all things considered, it was a great deal. Now, our large family can ride happily in a beautiful, well-running van.

Determined to reach the owner, I did my own sleuthing. The photo of the van on eBay featured the license plate. Equipped with that knowledge, I researched the VIN and license plate numbers, and, after paying for a few background searches, I had a name and some information. Using Google's street view, I was able to confirm that I had the right person, as I saw the very van I was looking at sitting in his driveway. (As a side note: This just proves we might as well live in glass houses if this much of our information is available to anyone online.) Finally, I was able to call the man and inquire about his van. He was surprised to hear how I found him, but he was willing to talk a deal.

There was still just one hitch. The van and this man were 12 hours away in Chicago.

But we were determined to buy this van. It was a great deal, and the field this van serviced meant that it was in pristine condition. The man had rented out vans like

–Ethan Zimmerman

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Few wood types are as sturdy and dependable as ash. Its legacy can be traced back to long before the U.S. was even colonized. Historians have found proof of Native American tribes using ash to build their canoe paddles, baskets, and spears because of its absorbent and bendable nature. Today, ash is traditionally found in wooden kitchen utensils, and you have likely seen ash wood used on common household tools, such as shovel and rake handles. Because of its flexibility, ash is a great option for chairs, custom furniture, or kitchen cabinets. There are many varieties of ash trees, each one offering its own grain, style, and color to lumber pieces. In addition to white, green, black, brown, and blue ash, there is also a variety called pumpkin. Each variety is still just as dependable as the next, but each one offers its own unique take on the styling and color of the wood. Its lumber ranges from light- to medium-brown, and its grain is fairly straight and consistent. Ash trees can typically be found across northeastern and northwestern America and into the Midwest, although it has also sprouted in Florida and Texas. Unfortunately, the emerald ash borer infestation in North America has had a heavy influence on ash. The borer was first detected in Michigan in 2002, and its lack of predators and rapid multiplying made it a savage threat to its food source, the ash tree. Many Hiking has many benefits as a family activity, such as mental health improvement, strengthening your relationships, and experiencing new sights and discoveries together. It’s also great exercise, and you get plenty of quality time, fresh air, and sunshine. Here are three guidelines to help you and your children have fun on your next hike. Encourage Their Curiosity One of the best ways to have your children learn about the world is letting them explore it. Being there for your children and encouraging them to ask questions about flowers, bugs, or animals you see on the trail will help them expand their vocabulary and learn how things work. When they learn they can explore independently and ask about the world around them, they’re gaining the confidence to teach themselves. Bring Along Some Tools of Discovery Getting your children to engage in nature while you’re out hiking can be as simple as bringing a magnifying glass along with you. Let your children look at leaves, rocks, insects, or anything else you might come across on the trail. You can also bring binoculars to help them look at a bird that might be perched a little too high up. Another option is a bug holder to let your children catch smaller insects, such as grasshoppers or pill bugs, and give them a close-up look.

Keep Safety in Mind While you’re out on the trail, it's essential to make sure that both you and your family are safe. Wear breathable, noncotton material and sturdy shoes that don’t expose your toes. It’s important to dress according to the weather. For example, if the day is sunny, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays and apply plenty of sunscreen on any exposed skin. Bring your childrens’ favorite snacks and water bottles for everyone to stay hydrated. It’s vital that you also bring a fully stocked first-aid kit in case someone is injured on the hike. Starting with one of your local hiking trails can be a rewarding way to spend the day with your children. You can watch their excitement as they expand their world with new discoveries.

populations of ash across North America have been devastated, but relief efforts are underway by introducing ash borer predators into ecosystems. Despite the borer attack, ash is still readily available and affordable. Ash responds well to power tools and hand carving, but it does give off a unique smell when it is worked with. In the final stages of furniture production, ash also responds well to paints, stains, and finishes. Today, ash remains a timeless staple, offering quality products with a sophisticated look that never goes out of style. For centuries, it has been one of North America’s treasures.


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Presidents are often considered strong and confident, mostly for their actions in foreign policy and lawmaking. But there are a few presidents historians also regard for their artistic talent. Celebrate America’s 243rd birthday this July by learning more about these little- known presidential artists. Abraham Lincoln Most known for the Emancipation Proclamation, honest Abe’s speechwriting abilities weren’t the only form of writing this president was known for. Lincoln was also a devout poet, beginning the craft when he was just a teenager. Lincoln frequently wrote poems for the entertainment of his neighbors and in letters to acquaintances. His works ranged from light and blissful to dark and irritated. Ulysses S. Grant The Civil War made Ulysses S. Grant a hero, and his subsequent presidential term cemented his place in American history. But, according to historians, he also had a talent for painting. During his time at West Point, Grant mentioned that he enjoyed finding free time to draw and paint. Some historians believe he also gave a painting to a woman he was fond of when he was just 18 years old. Very little

is known about Grant’s secret talent, but photos of his work demonstrate his softer side. Jimmy Carter Most historians regard Jimmy Carter’s presidency with little fanfare,

but it’s the work he’s done since he left the White House that makes him stand out. Carter was taught woodworking and furniture making at a young age by his father. When he was voted out of office in 1980, his cabinet heads gifted him a woodworking shop, which he still uses to make gifts for friends and furniture to sell. Carter is also a winemaker, author, and painter. He even painted the cover art for some of his many books. Despite his many talents, Carter claims to receive no profit for his work. Instead, the funds go toward the Carter Center, which promotes humanitarian aid across the globe.

Skewers are a Fourth of July favorite, but these are not your classic kebabs. They’re a fresh, light, and fun way to start a barbecue. Oh, and they don’t require any actual cooking.

INGREDIENTS • 1 medium-sized watermelon, cubed • 2 cucumbers, cut into 1/4-inch rounds •

• 1 packet of bamboo skewers EQUIPMENT

1 block feta cheese, cubed 1 bunch fresh mint leaves

• •

Salt, to taste


Assemble skewers by placing one watermelon cube, one cucumber round, one feta cube, and one mint leaf on skewer in that order. Repeat until skewer is full.

Red Fox

2. Lightly season with salt and chill in fridge until right before serving.

Copyright Nature Friend Magazine Used By Permission

Inspired by

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Brought to you by Kenton Chair Shop Builders of American Heirlooms and Penns Creek Furniture The Swiss Craftsman


P.O. Box 280 • Kenton, DE 19955 • Phone: (302) 653-2411

Inside this Issue

Misadventures in Vehicle Shopping Page 1

Hiking With Your Kids All About Ash Page 2

Three Artistic Presidents Watermelon Cucumber Skewers Page 3

3 Camp Stoves for Your Next Adventure Page 4


Whether you’re daytripping, car camping, or outright backpacking, nothing makes the wilderness feel more like home than a hot meal. Many summer fire bans put a damper on classic campfire s’mores, but a quality propane stove will let you cook up some good grub in the great outdoors. Here are some of the best units to up your camp- cooking game. Camp Chef Everest This is the ultimate two burner experience. Reasonably portable for its size, this dual stovetop features best-in-class wind resistance and incredibly fast boil times. With a range that can accommodate large cook pots and finely tuned controls that make simmering a snap, you can make some incredible meals from just about anywhere. For those wishing they could just bring their actual stove along on the journey, the Camp Chef has you covered. MSR Pocket Rocket Deluxe For the hunters and backpackers looking to minimize weight without sacrificing their morning coffee, the latest Pocket Rocket brings the heat. MSR has managed to stack many convenient features onto this burner, and it still comes in under 3 ounces. Sure, there are lighter kits out there, but the Deluxe comes with a built-in pressure regulator for high altitudes, decent wind resistance, a push-button igniter,

and excellent simmer control. Its fast boil times mean you can have multiple cups of joe prepped in under four minutes, no matter how remote your campsite. BioLite Wood Burning Campstove One of the most innovative designs on the market, this strange little stove is sure to become a favorite of backwoods adventurers and car campers alike. Leave the propane tanks at home: BioLite burns twigs and sticks you can find right around your campsite, saving you weight and money. But the special feature of this stove is it can charge electronic devices. Using patented thermoelectric technology, the BioLite converts heat from the fire into electricity, allowing anything with a USB charger to top off its battery. As electronic devices become more and more common during camping trips, the added utility of this camp stove may soon prove invaluable.


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