Retiree's animal woodcarvings decorate Uniontown home


THE HOLIDAY season means house tours -- several are planned in Carroll during the next few weeks. My favorite home tours, though, occur when I make a private visit to a home and can linger over photographs and souvenirs that reflect the lives of the folks who live there.

On the morning I spent with Uniontown residents Tom and Zoa Dolan, I learned about the woodcarvings that Dolan has been crafting during his retirement. But as Dolan gave me a tour of the rooms (each features a carving or collection of carvings he has completed), I also got to peek at the life of a man who is retired from two careers he loved -- the Marine Corps and Bethlehem Steel -- and heard him talk about his five grown children.

Dolan is becoming known for his carvings of animals, particularly birds, that he works on in his well-equipped basement studio. It has a refrigerator for snacks and drinks, and an electronic keyboard for his granddaughter Kendall Barnes to use when she visits, plus dozens of tools, jars of paint, and books for carving inspiration.

Dolan carves for enjoyment, for gift-giving and for friends who have requests. This month, he has given a decoy and a walking stick to be raffled for the benefit of Historic Uniontown. Raffle tickets can be purchased the day of the town's candlelight tour, Dec. 15.

About 10 years ago, Dolan started carving miniature figures of famous people in history. These started as necktie slides, but the miniatures now rest on a shelf above the sofa. From these, Dolan progressed to bird carvings, which grace the entire home.

A miniature eider, ring-necked pheasant, a puffin and an eagle with spread wings are favorites. Hand-carved walking and swagger sticks, one decorated with the Marine Corps emblem and an old man, another with the Democratic Party's donkey symbol, decorate a corner of the guest room.

"I started this hobby when I signed up for an adult education course. After a few classes, I went out and bought some books, and basically taught myself," said Dolan.

His work has become more detailed and refined over the years. It takes about 15 hours to complete an animal carving. "I get down and work, and when I get tired I walk away from it -- otherwise, I start to get sloppy," he said.

Besides seeing the carvings, touring the home, which is filled with personal treasures and family history, was a bonus. Dolan is the family historian, and tables and walls in the basement display everything from First Communion prayer books to college diplomas, photos of Dolan's days in the Marine Corps to an old Baltimore streetcar sign depicting the Sparrows Point neighborhood where the Dolans grew up.

Sacred holiday music

Set aside time Sunday to hear sacred holiday music. For the 17th year, Anna Motter of Taneytown directs a community chorus composed of singers from Taneytown, New Windsor, Littlestown and Hanover churches. Nearly 30 people form the choir, which began practicing for the concert early this fall. The free concert is at 3 p.m. at Grace United Church of Christ in Taneytown.

TC Works from Handel, Mendelssohn, Christiansen, Mozart and Liebergen will be performed. Soloists include Meg Herring, Marcia Edwards, June Keck, Amy Diehl, Janice Diehl, Ed Herring, Gerald Fuss, George Motter and David Motter. Fairy Flickinger accompanies the group on piano and organ.

Motter, who will be 70 next summer, says, "I hope I can do this for three more years. It takes a lot of energy."

Information: 756-2257.

Pub Date: 12/05/96

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