I wonder how many readers have a wooden toy crafted by Jim Thomas.
Jim, dubbed “Santa Claus without the elves,” was known throughout the area for the wooden toys and furniture he made at his home, 303 W. Main St., Cardington, where the bulk of his sales was made during the Christmas season.
A life-long Cardington area resident, Jim operated a farm south of town for 10 years following his marriage in 1914. Then he operated a butcher shop in Cardington for 20 years (on West Main Street on the site of the former Al’s Restaurant)).
During an interview published in the Morrow County Independent in December, 1971, Jim said the Thomas Meat Market became famous for its home made bologna. Among the travelers on Route 42 included then Governor Myers Cooper who stopped and purchased several of the “small rings.”
The hours at the shop became too long and Jim went to work at Tecumseh Products, from where he retired 15 years later.
He began the wood crafting as a hobby during his retirement, but it soon turned into a lucrative business. Working from a small room in his basement, his talented hands made child size tables and chairs, benches, stools and horses.
At the time of this interview, Jim had sold 70 English cradles and 60 rocking horses, noting those were the two most popular items he made.
Jim was proud of the quality of his workmanship and the durability of his product. He said he used only solid white pine to make the products and demonstrated that by jumping up and down on a small chair he had made. He never used a pattern but made them from memory.
He also constructed bird houses, rifle racks and hall clocks. Although the hallway and living room of his home was filled with wooden items, many waiting to be picked up by customers for Christmas that year, his wife, Susie, never complained.
“I’m just glad he is able to do it,” she said, noting that Jim had recovered from a heart attack and wore a pacemaker.
Jim was active in the community, bowling weekly and attending regular Rotary Club meetings. He was also a loyal member of the Cardington Fire Department, serving as its assistant chief. When he passed away in 1977, he was transported to Glendale Cemetery on “the old engine,” said Jim Ullom, retired Cardington Fire Chief.
Jim, who was 81 years at the time of this interview, was beloved by all who knew him and left a legacy with those wooden toys. Perhaps many of you readers received some of his toys as youngsters and they hold a special place in your hearts. I know I will always remember seeing those uniquely crafted wooden toys standing in Jim’s front lawn.
70 years ago, February, 1949: Herbert Fleming, Cardington insurance agent since 1936, sold his business to William C. Johnstone Dr. Lowell Murphy, of Cardington, was elected president of the Morrow County Medical Sociey for 1949.
60 years ago, February, 1959: Ground was broken for the new Morrow Lanes, Inc. bowling alley being built by Walter E. Long on County Road 132. Dale Carsner announced the opening of a home and auto store to be known as Cardington Home and Auto Supply.
50 years ago, February 1969: Major Harold Clinger, USAF, arrived home on a 30-day leave. He had flown over 200 missions in Vietnam. Don Yeoman, Cardington High School senior, received his private pilot’s license. Cardington School student Carmen Crum won a portable TV set for selling the most candy to raise money for the school bands.