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Thread: SMC Turner Interview - Frank Fusco

  1. #1
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    SMC Turner Interview - Frank Fusco

    Name: Frank Fusco

    How young are you? I’ll be 68 on October 26.

    Physical description: Not as skinny as I used to be. About 5’7” and 170 lbs.

    Where is home:
    Home is a semi-rural subdivision outside of Mountain Home, Arkansas. We have been in this house 4 ½ years but have lived in the area (Baxter County) for over 30 years.

    Prior to moving to Arkansas we owned some retail stores in a small town in southeastern Indiana. Before that we lived in the Chicago suburb of Downers Grove, the town I mostly grew up in.

    Family stuff:
    That’s a bittersweet question. We had three children.

    Evan, our eldest son is now 40 and a physician practicing in Springfield, Missouri. Our daughter-in-law is also a doctor. They have three children, fraternal boy twins, age six and a daughter, age two.

    Our second oldest child, a son, Brent, died at age 27 on October 12, 1996. He was found dead in his apartment in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Despite the best tests medical science had, no cause was ever determined. A perfectly healthy 27-year-old just died. He was an exceptionally talented writer and had literally hundreds of friends.

    Our youngest child, a daughter, was a ‘surprise’. I was age 48 when she was born, wife 44. She is now 20, married to her high school sweetheart. They live on Peterson Air Force Base near Colorado Springs, CO. He returned from Iraq a few months ago with a boatload of commendations and was promoted seven months BEFORE his eligibility date. She is going to college and getting top grades.

    Needless to say, we are very proud of our children. And that includes our daughter and son-in-law.

    Do you have a website?
    Well, yes and no. My website is www.ozarkwood.com but don’t look for it yet. I am in process of setting up equipment and getting a small business going to help pay for retirement.

    Vocation?
    A complex question. In my early years I was a newspaper reporter, photographer and editor. This was in Chicago. After nearly getting killed a few times (several stories in that statement) my then-pregnant wife said to get out. So I sold real estate for a couple years and then we moved to Indiana to open a Sears Roebuck franchise store. I also opened a gun shop specializing in muzzle loading firearms and antiquities. Later, we opened a maternity/infants/children’s store. Wanna go broke quick? Open a specialty shop in a very tiny town populated by very thrifty Germans. Later, in Arkansas I went back into real estate; then did teaching in the local schools part-time; managed foreclosed properties for finance companies and the Federal Government; and raised Maine-Anjou cattle until three years ago.

    Currently, I have returned to my first love – writing. I have written two novels and am working on the third. I sell some magazine articles and write other things just for the joy of writing. I have won some writing competitions. One was with a poem. I don’t even write poetry. This was something that just came from my heart and fingertips to the keyboard about our deceased son, Brent. When I read it at my writers group, I was told it was a poem, so I submitted it for publication and a contest. It was both accepted and won; and has now been nominated for a well-known national competition.

    Once I get some equipment set up and my web site going, I’ll be offering wood working related items and services in another attempt to not starve in retirement without a check other than SS.

    Shop overview:
    Call it a shop UNderview. Well, enneyhow, our house is a two-level hillside with a finished walkout basement lower level. My shop is the width of a one-car garage (14’) and 23’ ft long. The front end is taken up with some shelving and my reloading press so I use only about 18’. My tools have all been purchased on tight budget restrictions. Many are Grizzly especially since the Grizzly store is only 2½ hours away - in Springfield, Missouri. Band saw is a G0555; lathe is a G1067Z; drill press is a G7943; planer is a G0505; compound slider miter saw is a 10” Northern Industrial (Northern Tool) I bought for $99.00; and, I swear it is the identical saw I have seen with other brand names at $399.00. It’s a great tool and I am very happy with it. Table saw is a Delta 36-540, a very light duty saw that I inherited which retails for $89.00. I would like a better table saw but this one works, has sufficient power and is light enough to carry outside in nice weather. And, this being Arkansas, nice weather is most of the time. A better lathe will come before the new table saw. Of course, have many smaller tools, grinders, sanders, etc.

    How many turning tools?
    Dunno would have to count, but probably twenty or so. Bought some from an e-friend at very low price, about $5.00 each. Got a few from Grizzly; and others from the widow of a friend at $5.00 each. Have put handles on a couple. Regrinding for specialized use hasn’t been a huge success yet. Plan to make some hollowing tools. A friend in my woodturning club has a set he made that is excellent. I’ll take another close look at those and then have at it.

    How long have I been turning?
    My first turning was soon after we moved into this house, more than four years ago. My lathe actually had been in the box for two years before that. Just after I bought it, wifey said we were buying a new house and moving. Finding this house took two years. I hadn’t even seen a lathe since I was a small child. But it looked like a fun and therapeutic activity. And it has proven so.

    My favorite flavor ice cream?
    Boy, you sure like to torture a guy. Expanding waistline dictated giving up my nightly dish of buttered pecan. That was six years ago and I’m still suffering from withdrawal.

    What do I enjoy most about wood turning?
    It is relaxing and therapeutic. There is pleasure in watching a rough hunk of wood take the shape of something attractive (at least that happens some of the time). And, an added bonus, my woodturning club is populated with real nice folks I wouldn’t have met otherwise.

    What was my first completed turned project?
    As said before, y’all are really cruel and heartless, asking a thing like this.

    Oh, well, here’s the story. I had just set up the lathe and was itching to turn something. One day, while at my favorite auto repair shop, I looked out his back door and saw branches from an Osage Orange tree that had been trimmed and left years before. Figuring that this meant the wood was dry I took it home and began turning. Dry? No way. I wanted to make a nice looking mallet for shop use. And being a semi-nut case on things natural, I used only pure beeswax for the finish. ‘Nuther big misteak. Day after turning the mallet head and handle were both cracked from rapid drying. My turning was obviously the work of a beginner. The finish was (and still is) tacky. But it is a very stout whacker and I use it frequently in the shop. Just not very pretty.

    Fescue 01.jpg

    What’s my favorite individual piece I have turned?
    Can’t say I have one. I make a lot of duck and game calls and won third place in a competition with one. I make pens. If forced to pick something, it is probably the European style pen made from Baron of Bethlehem Olivewood with a cross laser engraved on the barrel. I made this as a gift for my Pastor. I give as gifts and donate to organizations to sell or raffle for fund raising. They are always well received. That makes me feel good.

    Fescue 02.jpg

    What do I not turn now that I want to, or plan to, in the future?
    Easy, now - everything. Actually, I need to expand my turning skills with bowls and vases. As soon as I get my hollowing tools made, I’ll be doing much (I hope) of those.

    How do I take my Moxie?
    I dunno what Moxie is. So, I’ll adlib. Enjoy an occasional glass of white wine (no jokes or I’ll send my cousin Rocco from Chicago to visit you) and an occasional bottle of hard cider. Don’t drink much beer, am just now finishing up my summer six pack. What’re corn flakes?

    What’s my favorite form of someone else’s turnings?
    Can’t say I have a favorite form. We do have a club member though who is very creative with his turning ideas. I enjoy seeing his latest pieces.

    What’s my favorite wood to work with?

    I like Osage Orange. But really any wood. Wood is a great gift to the world. I do avoid stringy woods for turning. Always searching for different and pretty.

    What brought me to SMC?
    As is readily apparent, I like to interact with others of like interests and learn from them. I’m also well inventoried with opinions and rarely hesitate to share those. (Right Aaron?)

    Have I met or hung out with other Creekers?
    Only one I would admit to - Tod Evans. Interesting guy and very talented.

    Do you remember your first post on SMC.

    Nope, sure don’t – but it was probably an opinion about something.

    How about the first thread you started?
    Don’t recall first thread I started. It was probably deleted enneyhow.

    Well, it’s easy enough to find: http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=31025

    Nicknames?
    I’m an historical reenactor. My persona is the Revolutionary Rifleman. I use the on-line handle of Rifleman1776. At reenactments some have called me “Short Grass”. This came about because some folks couldn’t understand the pronunciation of my last name (Fusco) and thought it was ‘fescue’. Voila, ‘short grass’. Oh, well.

    What’s with the reenactment gig?
    Long reply possible here, but will try to keep it fairly short. I have always been proud to be an American and don’t mind saying it, even if some say that is corny these days. In Indiana we lived in an area that had the only Revolutionary battle on Indiana soil. The leader of the Americans was Colonel Archibald Lochry (pronounced ‘lock-ree’). Over the years the spelling got bastardized into Laughery, but the pronunciation stayed unchanged. We lived near the headquarters of the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association and I quickly became interested in the old style muzzle loading guns. Combining that with my interest in early American History, I adopted the persona of a revolutionary rifleman. Over the years, in addition to attending reenactments and rendezvous, I have given talks and presentations many times to civic groups, schools, scouts, etc.

    How were rifle barrels made back then?
    In short, hand forged around a mandrel. Then they were straightened with a system that utilized a string, candle and keen eye; and a big hammer. Rifling was done with ingenious tools that cut the grooves and could be indexed. Just because they lived 200-300 years ago doesn’t mean they were stupid. The techniques were very advanced and complex. To this day, no one has made a modern flintlock to compare with what the masters made ‘back then’.

    If I were a tree, what tree would it be?
    Probably an Osage Orange – one so deep into the woods no one could find me to cut me down.

    And even if I toppled I wouldn’t rot for many-many years.

    If I won a bunch of money, what part of my life would change?

    We would do a lot of traveling. I would buy some new tools, probably build a dedicated shop building. A new ATV; new truck; and get my wife a new car. I would support several philanthropies I have interests in. I would more actively support republican candidates for office. Maybe even get a new toothbrush.

    Not asked but, I’ll add anyway. Other interests?

    I collect things. Not quite compulsive, but nearly so.

    I collect: cannons, canes, tomahawks, powderhorns, knives, Shrine and Masonic memorabilia, a few good guns and most recently, bells. My wife is an avid bell collector and she has pulled me into the hobby a little bit. I have probably only six bells in ‘my’ collection. She has over 600.

    I hunt and ride an ATV on Ozark forest trails; am very active politically; active in the Shrine and Legion of Honor (Shrine Veterans); three different writers groups; my woodturning club; my church and probably more.

    Fescue 04.jpg Fescue 03.jpg

    Thanks, Frank. I'm better to know you.
    Only the Blue Roads

  2. #2
    Frank I have enjoyed your posts here and on the pen turning board. You make a beautiful pen, that is for sure, we just don't see them to often! Hope you get the lathe you are looking for! Nice learning more about you. I love the Ozarks, I just don't get back there often anymore. I am from accross the river from Omaha, Ne. We always got a kick when on the highway going into Arkansas that says Omaha.... 5 miles or something like that

    Corey

  3. Well Frank, now we know you better

    Some neat hobbies you have there, and you sound BUSY!!! So much for slowing down in retirement eh?

    Cheers!

  4. #4
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    Frank nice to know you better my friend. Sounds like you have a awesome family. Nice to meet you.
    Bernie

    Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.

    To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funnybone.



  5. #5
    Nice to know you a bit more Frank.
    Dario

  6. #6
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    Nice to meet you Frank. What are the novel titles?

  7. #7
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    Well, it is good to get to know more about you "Fescue". That has a certain ring to it.

    A re-enactor and a novelist. And you still have time for turning. Sounds like your days are filled with all things you enjoy, which is the way it should be.

    Thanks again for your interview.

    "Cue Ball"
    Creeker Visits. They're the best.

  8. #8
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    Hi Frank...

    Thanks for the excellent interview. Real nice to get to know you better. You sound like a busy guy-enjoy it all!
    Happy and Safe Turning, Don


    Woodturners make the world go ROUND!

  9. #9
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    Enjoyed the interview, Frank. Thanks for sharing!

    Mark

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
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    Thanks, y'all for the nice comments. I'll try to respond to a couple questions.
    Stu, made a very significant observation about slowing down in retirement. I moved to this retirement community when I was in my mid-30s and noted immediately that some of the oldest, wuthless, grouchiest folks I had ever met were only about 50 years old. On the other hand some of the brightest, most energetic and enthusiastic folds I had ever met were in the late 70's or even the 80's. Age is not cronological, it is attitudinal. Slow down, dry up, blow away. Life is for living. I try.
    Books: title to #1 is (surprise!) THE NEW RIFLEMAN. Set in the near future, a botched election results in the sitting President to set aside the Constitution and he becomes a brutal dictator. Our hero, a muzzle loading rifle enthusiast and Rev. War reenactor (wonder where that idea came from) assinates the President then escapes into the woods of the Arkansas Ozarks. Eventually, he meets up with others who are like-minded and brings America back to a free and Constitutional government. Very action filled and with a strong patriotic theme. Book #2 is titled MRS. PRESIDENT. A black female, very tall, former NBA star and Playboy type model is elected President. She is kidnapped by a splinter racist organization. Our hero from the first book is called out of retirement to rescue her. Another exciting adventure that stretches from the Ozarks of Missouri to Washington D.C. She is restored to office and the traitors captured. Book #3 is (tentatively) titled IN THE BEGINNING, is set in the jungles of Peru and Bolivia. Can't say much yet, it is an adventure, partly mystery with world shaking historical revelations. The heros are women. Our own Jim King has been an absolutely invaluable source of information about lore and legend for that part of the world. If this book sells, I'll use the advance to visit him in Peru and deliver an autographed copy personally. Anybody out there that is, or knows agents, I'm looking.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karl Laustrup
    Well, it is good to get to know more about you "Fescue". That has a certain ring to it.

    A re-enactor and a novelist. And you still have time for turning. Sounds like your days are filled with all things you enjoy, which is the way it should be.

    Thanks again for your interview.

    "Cue Ball"
    I also serve on the State Board of Nursing. I'm the only non-nurse on the Board. This was an appointment by the Governor. I represent the older population as a consumer advocate. My mother was in a nursing home for more than five years and I developed some strong opinons about nursing care. My perspective of issues is somewhat different than the other members and I try to contribute to upholding our guiding principal of protecting the public. This takes three to five days a month of my time.

  12. #12
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    Frank
    My Republican Congressman walks up to my table at an art show and says 'Frank, you're an Republican Artist. Don't you know that is an oximoron' Good to know there are others out there turning a bowl and listening to Sean Hannity. I am sick over the sensless abuse my freind Speaker Hastert is taking over this sicko Foley.

    As a Hard R in Illinois life ain't easy. I've been active in the party for about 20 years and a past County Chair. After the last election when we defeated a 28 year incumbent D State Senator and 'W' won my County by 11% (a 23 point swing from 2000) the Republican Senate leader dragged me up on stage at the Illinois House/Senate inaugural dinner to name me the Most Effective Republican County Chair in the state. Cool moment.

    Frank
    'Sawdust is better than Prozac'

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Kobilsek
    Frank
    My Republican Congressman walks up to my table at an art show and says 'Frank, you're an Republican Artist. Don't you know that is an oximoron' Good to know there are others out there turning a bowl and listening to Sean Hannity. I am sick over the sensless abuse my freind Speaker Hastert is taking over this sicko Foley.

    As a Hard R in Illinois life ain't easy. I've been active in the party for about 20 years and a past County Chair. After the last election when we defeated a 28 year incumbent D State Senator and 'W' won my County by 11% (a 23 point swing from 2000) the Republican Senate leader dragged me up on stage at the Illinois House/Senate inaugural dinner to name me the Most Effective Republican County Chair in the state. Cool moment.

    Frank
    I began my active Republican activities in DuPage County, Illinois at about age 12. Later, after four years in the Air Force I came back and was President of the Young Republicans there for years until I aged out.

  14. #14
    I really enjoyed your interview Frank. You live an interesting life.

  15. #15
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    Nice to meet you more fully, Frank!
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

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