Local Boonville resident Fred Oerly can be found at home most of the time carving figures, mostly animals, out of wood. Oerly discovered this hobby after retirement and has created a substantial portfolio. Oerly even authored a book titled, 'Some Mighty Good Years.” Oerly will share all of his talents with the public during a celebration of his 90th birthday on December 8, at the Zuzac Wonder Store in downtown Boonville.
Oerly enjoys carving animals. Many crates full of carvings can be found in a bedroom with such labels as rabbits, fish and bears. Oerly has also carved figures of people from the Overton area, depicting people from his childhood. There is even a dance floor with people playing instruments and dancers on a platform. Oerly has even carved comic characters from comic strips from local papers. Other than lifelike animals or people, he has carved more practical devices such as washboards he saw in his world travels. These boards are very ornate with designs that maybe would garner a wall rather than wash cloths. They are a little different than the washboards used in the past in the frontier Untied States, these are made of wood rather than tin.
Oerly brought out a basket he made from one piece of wood. The basket expands from one level of wood to multiple levels. The closest resemblance would be expanding a slinky up and down. The basket includes a handle.
In addition to carving, Oerly has done a substantial amount of wood burning. He showed a cowboy scene burned in wood and other works that he had done. Oerly does wood burning on many of his carvings to create a more textured surface.
Oerly uses a lot of books and pictures to assist in his carvings.
Oerly has never sold any of his work, but has decided to give his carvings away instead. He has given over 100 cardinals to World War II veterans and is one himself. Oerly has also given his carvings to places like Hartmann Village and to local Boonville residents. He said his carvings are now in different parts of the world.
“I gave a carving to a minister and he went to Australia and gave it to a minister there as a gift,” Oerly said.
Besides creating, Oerly also refinishes old broken carvings. Thursday evening, he was working to fix a horse and a bear who's legs had been broken into pieces.
“The legs were in pieces and I had to figure out how to put them together again,” Oerly said.
It did not take him long to figure out how to place them together.
Oerly is excited about celebrating his 90th birthday next Saturday at Zuzac.
Oerly will read portions of his book and demonstrate to people how he carves his figures.
Page 2 of 2 - “That evening I will be going to Lupus where I will attend a dinner,” Oerly said.
He said he loves to share and give to people and will continue to do so as long as he can.