Extremely Average #22: Heroes

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Blog entry by Ecocandle posted 01-24-2010 04:01 AM 1836 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 21: She Took My Breath Away Part 22 of Extremely Average series Part 23: The English Plane »

In 1972 October 20, Pete Rose hit a leadoff home run, and then hit a single in the ninth inning. This was game 5 of the World Series, and the Cincinnati Reds had just staved off elimination, thanks to my child hood hero’s efforts. The Reds would win game 6 to send it to a decisive game 7 in Riverfront stadium. I was 5 years old. On October 22, in front of 56,040 fans, and at least one little boy at home watching on TV, the Oakland A’s captured their first World Series since 1930, beating my beloved Red 3 – 2. I cried.

It has been a long time since I thought about Pete Rose. I loved playing baseball growing up. Cheering for the Reds during the 70’s turned out to be a pretty good choice. ‘The Big Red Machine’ won the world series in 75’ & 76’. My hero was still Pete Rose because of how he played the game. His nickname was ‘Charlie Hustle’. He loved the game. He played it hard. His later troubles broke my heart. In the course of my life there have only been a few who have risen to the level of hero in my mind.

Last night, I looked over the stack of woodworking DVDs which I had received, from The Taunton Press, earlier in the week. Sam Maloof, run time 55 minutes, originally published in 1989, was the one I chose. I popped it into the computer and was introduced to one of the ‘Giants’ of American woodworking.

The DVD invites the viewer into his home and his workshop. The cameras followed him around as he narrates his work and life. The beginning shows Maloof picking through piece of walnut, with him explaining how he marks his lumber. We are treated to wonderful detail about his thought process. He is known for his chairs, but we also get a glimpse into some of his other work.

He talks with ease, as if the audience is a neighbor who stopped over for a cup of tea. We get to meet his wife, who is obviously the love of his life. He talks about his 40 years of being a woodworker and how he is entirely self taught. Sam Maloof is modest and endearing. The love of his life’s work is obvious. He talks about some of his prototypes, how many of them were sold over the course of his life and how he wished he had been able to keep more of them. We see his templates, and he proudly shows off one that has survived 30 years and is still in use, he even shows how he has written ‘original’ on it.

The best part of the time spent with Sam Maloof, is watching him at work. I am too new to woodworking, to fully grasp all of the tips and ideas he shares, but it is obvious that I am watching genius. My head swirls with ideas. In just 55 minutes I have had my perceptions about woodworking changed forever.

He talks of people, who present themselves as wood artists, and he says with pride that he is a woodworker; it is a good word, an honest word. Despite his belief that he is NOT an artist, his work can be found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Renwick Gallery, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and The White House Collection of Arts and Crafts, to name but a few of dozens. He was awarded the MacArthur ‘Genius’ grant in 1985. I learned the last bits, not from the video, but from and Wikipedia. The more I looked up online, the more I liked him. The video introduces one to the work of a dedicated master craftsman and I think most people will want to learn more when they are done.

Sam Maloof passed away on May 21, 2009. Though he is no longer with us, his work and life still has the power to inspire and to teach. I would recommend this DVD to anyone who asks. As for me, I have added Sam Maloof to my short list of heroes.

-- Brian Meeks,

6 comments so far

View jlsmith5963's profile


297 posts in 4031 days

#1 posted 01-24-2010 08:00 AM


I posted this when Sam Maloof died, given your new found interest in him you might enjoy this video series of a workshop he gave:

Given Sam Maloof’s passing, I thought I would post the link to a web site that shows Sam in action (there are other woodworking videos as well). His videos are in the Video Library under A Woodworking Experience.

-- criticism: the art of analyzing and evaluating the quality of an artistic work...

View stefang's profile


17039 posts in 4017 days

#2 posted 01-24-2010 01:46 PM

Nice of you to blog this Brian. It speaks well for our society that such people as Sam Maloof are held in such high esteem. He sets a good example for us all, not only how to do woodworking, but also how to live a full life. Besides being a premier woodworker/designer, He was extremely good at just being himself, a friendly, helpful and amiable man.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1092 posts in 4078 days

#3 posted 01-24-2010 02:15 PM

I’m not a Premier anything.
But then I’m just starting out in woodworking. I’m only 77. I have a long way to go.

Hey, Brian.
Meet you at the Dub.
This time, don’t come in disguise!


-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

View SPalm's profile


5334 posts in 4565 days

#4 posted 01-24-2010 03:37 PM

This post brought a lump to my throat. I don’t’ know if it is from the fact that we have lost several Masters in the last couple of years, or my inability to even come close to matching any of their works.

Thanks for the post. I find it as an inspiration to try again,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View shopdog's profile


579 posts in 4168 days

#5 posted 01-24-2010 05:05 PM

Good blog Brian. Baseball and woodworking…what could be better?
Pete Rose was not one of my heroes (I’m a Yankee fan from the 50’s), but I totally respect his accomplishments. He was pure baseball…always gave it 150%. I think that he should get into the Hall, considering the drug situation in baseball, gambling seems tame. I’m not condoning it, but he’s paid his dues. They will eventually send some of the juicing ball players into the Hall. Charlie Hustle should go to.

Sam Maloof is a hero of mine, and I really appreciate the link posted by jlsmith (although I had to go to, and find the Maloof videos)...well worth the search.
Thanks to both of you.

-- Steve--

View CottonWire's profile


16 posts in 3798 days

#6 posted 01-24-2010 05:05 PM

Morning Brian,

I’m not sure how I ended up here, reading your post, but I’m very glad I did. Being “new to woodworking” is putting it mildly in describing my capacities. I am a reader and thinker though, and your piece is just wonderful. You’re thoughtful, well spoken and you’ve introduced me to someone I didn’t know . . . at all. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on some of those DVDs for my own library.

Thanks again from the heart of the Mohawk Valley – west central Oregon!

Kind regards,


-- "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in frames of silver." Mohawk Valley - Oregon

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