Today I want to honor my maternal grandfather, Cleonis Collinette. We called him Coco. He lived in Rosée, Namur, Belgium, where he worked for years as a railroad conductor. I only met him face to face one time in 1954.
In the photo below (early 1960s), you see him working at his bench in the basement of his modest home in Rosée. He loved working with wood and was an excellent craftsman.
Growing up, I never had a change to build a relationship with him because he lived in Belgium while I lived in Texas. Distance did not stop him from making sure my brother and I knew him in some way. I have childhood memories of receiving special gifts from him. On his work bench, notice the item in the center. It looks like a windmill. He made this from a block of wood similar to a 4×4 post. The blades for the windmill were cut from pieces of aluminum. The blades were mounted on the end of a bicycle hub which he embedded in the wood block. The roof on the windmill was also hand cut from aluminum and marked to look like slate tile seen on many roofs of old buildings in Europe.
To the right of the windmill, is another project that looks like a wishing well. It was also cut from a block of wood, but this time instead of it being square it was round like a cylinder. The center of it was hollowed out. You can make out a handle that would turn raising and lowering a bucket. The roof was made similar to roof on the windmill.
All of the parts were hand made on his work bench. Gifts from a craftsman’s heart to his grandchildren.
When we retired and sold our house to buy our RV in 2011. We painfully parted with many special items. It was time for these two gifts from Coco to find a new home. In the photo below, my oldest grandson Gage, on the left, and my youngest grandson, Jayson, are holding their special gifts. They only know Coco, their great-great-grandfather, through these gifts and the photo above.
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