“Do your best. Take pride in what you do. Share it,” are the inspiring words of Cecil Halterman outside his mobile RV camper parked in Bossier City, Louisiana.
Halterman, an Army Veteran sold his house in 2017 and invested in a home on wheels. He and his wife, Robbin, made the trip to Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana to visit his daughter and son-in-law who serve in the U.S. Air Force. When the Halterman’s made the trek in 2017, it was just before the birth of their granddaughter in the Shreveport-Bossier City area.
The proud grandparents have two daughters and two sons altogether. All reside in different parts of the United States. “Having the RV has been ideal. We have been able to enjoy our family here in Louisiana, and stay a while,” said Halterman.
After joining the Army in 1980, and following basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, he served stateside assignment in Fort Carson, Colorado, and then two tours in Germany before leaving active duty in 1988.
“Being a Veteran is something I do not take lightly,” he said. After arriving in Louisiana, the Veteran enrolled in VA health care at the Shreveport VA Hospital. “I have gotten good care here, and I enjoy the Veteran atmosphere.”
While parked at the campground and not visiting with family, Halterman said he got camper fever and needed something to do. While walking the nearby woods, he noticed sticks, of odd shapes and colors, that were strong and sturdy. “I have made 681 canes and walking staffs since January 2018,” he counted.
Using his woodworking skills, Halterman crafts commercial quality canes and staffs while parked at the campground. What has he done with 681 pieces? “I give them away to the Veterans at the VA and the Veterans living here in the campground,” he smiled. “The joy I receive when someone else appreciates the work is worth it all.”
After sawing, whittling, carving, shaping and routing, and oh yes, cutting, the canes, and staffs are painted and coated with a glossy finish. Halterman says new friends who live nearby (a few yards away) have donated some tools and supplies to keep his productions going. His campground neighbors have also helped scour the forest for quality wood-working materials. “My neighbors are great; without these folks [some Veterans and some active duty], lending me help because of my health problems, I would not be able to produce the canes with such unique features.
“We plan to get on the road in a few months. I have a few more scheduled appointments at the Shreveport VA, and I do not want to be a no show,” he said grinning. “When we get back to Iowa, who knows, I may introduce Iowans to the art of molding sticks, found scattered on the ground, into functional devices that help people—the Veterans seem to like them. I hope the wood in Iowa is like Louisiana—Ha Ha.”