Handmade gifts have family, W.Va. ties
ELKINS — For the second Christmas in a row, one little boy in the Herron family will receive a special, personalized toy box made out of wood by Inter-Mountain Publisher Steve Herron.
“My family was saddened by the loss of my brother in February 2019,” Herron said. “One of my nieces told me it was especially hard to see her dad’s pickup truck drive away because it added to the realization he was gone and not coming back.
“With Christmas fast approaching last year I knew we would all be sad without my brother. So I decided one way to keep him in our memory was by making a toy box for his grandson, Hudson, using the theme of my brother’s pickup truck.”
Herron began creating the special toy box at home with his wood-working tools.
“My brother was a WVU grad and a huge sports fan of the university, so I incorporated the WV logo on the front of the pickup toy box,” he said. “I also kept the license plate from my brother’s pickup and added it to the back of the toy box.”
Herron said the pickup toy box was “a huge success. “My great nephew and nieces loved it so much, it was well worth the time and effort it took me to build it.”
“With this Christmas rolling around I thought I should make my soon to be 2-year old grandson, Liam, a toy box too,” he said. “I didn’t want to make another pickup truck so I decided this year’s theme would be a dump truck toy box.”
The choice was based on Herron family history.
“My grandfather, ‘Dutch’ Giles, drove a dump truck when I was a child,” Herron said. “He used his dump trucks to help build roads in the 30s and 40s and he used his dump trucks in the 50s and 60s to haul coal in West Virginia. My grandfather actually met and married my grandmother while building a road in Doddridge County, West Virginia, in the 30s.
“I have many fond summer memories as a little boy swinging with my grandmother in her porch swing waiting for my grandfather’s dump truck to drive around the curve in a distance. I would jump off the porch and run to the bottom of the hill. There he would pick me up so I could ride in his dump truck to the top of the hill.
“This toy box dump truck took a lot of weekends to build,” Herron said. “There are over 500 screws, nuts and bolts in the dump truck holding it together and making it function. There is a frame behind the wood panels and everything is screwed together.
“The front grill of the dump truck is an actual gutter screen purchased from Elkins Builder Supply, as was the majority of the wood. There are five sets of functioning doors and one drawer in the dump truck. The dump bed actually tilts too.”
Since Herron’s daughter, Leia, graduated from WVU, the dump truck, like the pickup truck he made for his great nephew, sports a WV logo on the front. And the license plate on the back of the dump truck is from the first car Herron drove in the 70s.
Herron is hopeful that someday his grandson and great nephew will both appreciate the family and West Virginia ties in both toy boxes.
“Unfortunately, both my grandson and great nephew live in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area so I don’t get to see them as much as I would like,” he said.
Herron has a history of wood working for more than 50 years and he usually doesn’t repeat the things that he makes. There was no pattern for either truck toy box. He made the size determination of both trucks based on the size of the back seat of his car.
“I don’t have a woodshop,” he said. “I have an electric drill, an electric saw, a router, a sander and a square. I work in my driveway or in my garage so it usually takes me a little longer to make something but both trucks were created and built as a labor of love.”
Steve Herron has been the publisher at The Inter-Mountain since 2017 and has worked for Ogden Newspapers in a number of locations during the last 30 years.