New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - June 25, 1993, New Braunfels, Texas
Friday, June 25,1993 ■ Herald-Zeitung ■ 9Lifestyles
Photo courtesy of SAMUEL JEFFERSON
The 'Cane Man’
Charles Ballard, the "Cana Man," reviews a century of family albums during a public appearance In Lands Park.
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‘The Cane Man’
Charles Ballard makes an art out of restoring old canes and umbrellas
By SAMUELL JEFFERSON Special to th# Herald-Zeitung
His antique restorations were once described as rare collectibles created by “tough looking hands that caress a child’s cheek with the pressure of an angel’s kiss.’’
Charles Henry Ballard, noted Texas artisan, was seen most recently in public at New Braunfels’ Landa Park where he celebrated his 90th birthday and his 51st wedding anniversary last April. Afterwards, he and his wife Frances returned to Austin where they prefer to live in quiet seclusion.
The ‘‘Cane Man,” as he is known in the Southwest, has been featured through the years in newspapers and trade journals. The ANTIQUE OKLAHOMA, before it changed owners some 20 years ago, printed the tribute to his gentle hands. “Charley,” as he is known by those close to him, attributes his craftsmanship ability as being inherited ...more from his mother’s ancestors.
“They were,” he recalls, “master cabinet makers in Germany before emigrating to America in the 1800’s.” For himself, he started restoring old walking canes and umbrellas a quarter-century ago.
He remembers, “This was after we closed our little antique shop over on Red River Street.”
He admits that he never hoarded any of his creations.
“Collectors bought them, sometimes, sight unseen even before I fin-
hand tools, scattered around his small work shop, are rusting in idleness.
The “Cane Man,” admittedly, is happy that others have found pleasure in his work. “I gave each of my children at least one which will be handed down through the generations. The others I sold for a small fraction of what they are worth today.
“But,” he concluded, “no one can imagine the thrill I got every time I saved these precious antiques from being lost forever. It’s so geoid to know that their owners treasure them as much as I do.”
ished my work. “It look weeks, mostly, to restore only one walking cane or umbrella. I used windmill ‘sucker rods’ for the walking canc shafts. My most important tool,” he admiLs, “was a piece of glass that I used like a machine lathe to scrape the rods smooth.”
This attention to detail, perhaps, explains why his limited restorations arc cherished bv collectors. Also, the scarcity of antique fittings and the fact that he no longer creates. His
Photo courtesy of SAMUELL JEFFERSON
Calloused hands display a rare walking cane which this master artisan restored.
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