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Morning Sun
  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: Laverne Bockelman creates art from newspaper ads

  • One thing Laverne Bockelman, 97,  has always been able to do is keep busy.



    The Via Christi Village resident is currently turning newspaper advertising sections into colorful crafts.

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  • One thing Laverne Bockelman, 97,  has always been able to do is keep busy.
    The Via Christi Village resident is currently turning newspaper advertising sections into colorful crafts.
    “I learned how to do it when I went to Shaping Lives at Pittsburg High School,” he said. “The teacher had made a bowl, and I made a bowl.”
    But he’s branched out and made lots of stars and even a building, all his own design.
    The creations are formed of strips of slick paper that has been rolled on a pencil and coated with Mod Podge, a product that is a glue, sealant and finish.
    The bowl is formed of paper rings glued together, with a base of coiled paper.
    “I call the building a one-room schoolhouse,” Bockelman said. “I went to a one-room school in Brazilton, and the building is still there. There was  one teacher and she taught all eight grades.”
    He gave out the stars as Christmas gifts to family members.
    “When I started out, I used magazines for the paper, but now I use the newspaper ads,” Bockelman said. “They’re more colorful, it seems like to me. You know, I didn’t think I’d be making anything like this at 97, but it keeps me kind of busy. There were some people who tried this, but it didn’t work out too well, but I can still use my fingers pretty good. It takes a lot of hard work.”
    His hands are used to hard work. Bockelman was a farmer for many years, and was also foreman at the Helio aircraft plant near Pittsburg for a time. He has several times won top honors at the Kansas State Cornhusking Contest.
    Bockelman has those plaques displayed around the apartment he shares with wife Ella, along with a couple of ship models in the hall and second-floor social area at Via Christi Village.
    One is a model of the USS Nimitz, an aircraft carrier complete with numerous tiny boats on deck. The other is the USS North Carolina, famed World War II battle ship that was involved in the long island-hopping campaign against the Japanese in the South Pacific.
    Bockelman knows something about that himself. In the U.S. Navy during World War II, he served aboard the USS Wasatch, an amphibious force flagship, a floating command post with advanced communications equipment. It was designed to be used during large-scale operations, and it was.
    “I was in five invasions and two occupations of Japan,” Bockelman said. “We had admirals on the ship, we even had MacArthur on board for a while, not very long.”
    If he wants to take a break from his crafts, he’s got plenty of memories to look back on.
    Page 2 of 2 - “I’ve been a lot of places and done a lot of things,” Bockelman said. “But I guess, at 97, you should have.”
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