A Story About Struggle, Commitment to Community and Divine Gifts from God
Some people know exactly what they want to do during their lives. For others, it may be towards the end of their lives that God works his magic and downloads gifts into one’s being. The latter is the case for my mom, Marcia Myers, who turns 80 years old this June, 2020. This story will display a snapshot of my mom’s challenging life and how she came to a point where a beautiful gift from God literally fell into her lap. It’s a story about accepting the conditions given one during life, learning to live a life of grace and humility. Then, at some point, when you’ve lived your life the best you can, even with curveballs and hardships, God may reward you with something seemingly impossible. It is her time to shine. It is my desire to honor my mom, her life and her incredible artwork.
My mom grew up in the Western states of Nebraska, California and Wyoming. At age 7 her father abandoned the family leaving her mom, Vera, to struggle to rear 2 young girls on the salary of a legal secretary. My mom had to help care for her younger sister, cook, clean and sew much of her own clothing. After graduating high school in Cheyenne, Wyoming, mom left to attend Junior College in Winfield, Kansas. There she met my dad, Lawrence “Bud” Myers. Dad would go on to attend seminary at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis to become a Lutheran Minister. They married and moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado for a short time where she gave birth to my oldest sibling, Philip. From Colorado, they swiftly moved to the Philippine Islands to fulfill a 7-year mission trip. Mom gave birth to me and then my sister abroad. She worked in the U.S. Embassy as a secretary to JUSMAG (Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group). Life in a 3rd world tropical country for 7 years presented its fair share of challenges--3 Filipino dialects, tropical illnesses easily afflicting young children, unannounced monsoons and flooding. They lived through all of this while attempting to help so many people in a country with dire poverty.
In 1974, upon return to the U.S., we moved to Logan, Ohio, Hocking County, rural Appalachia, where my dad, along with his 10 siblings, grew up. With little money upon returning from their mission trip, they were fortunate to find a dilapidated farmhouse on Bear Run Rd. with no running water, an outhouse and no electricity. When we moved to this hilltop, I remember mom would boil water in a large pot and put it into a free-standing bathtub that was in a front entry area of the house. Our beds were mattresses that laid on the floor. Growing up poor on a farm my dad knew how to farm, build and could do just about anything else. In a short time, dad and mom had the house, “deemed beyond repair”, remodeled with modern utilities. We still had a coal burning furnace, hillside spring for fresh water and a party phone line that we shared with our neighbors. It all worked out, because my mom had a life long dream of someday living on the top of a big hill. She got her dream in this respect.
In addition to motherhood, minister’s wife and farmer, mom also worked full time jobs to supplement dad’s income which was minimal as a pastor and construction worker. As Personnel Manager at the Carborundum Grinding Wheel Company, she helped the company through a big strike in the 1970’s. She had to go to work and was considered a “scab”. Working tirelessly and lovingly she helped relocate factory workers when the plant eventually closed. When a new owner took over the company, my mom helped him restart the company to employ local workers. The many people she helped at Carborundum were forever grateful to my mom. Other jobs mom worked include Chief Deputy for Hocking County Probate Court and Teacher of Business classes at Hocking College. In later years she was employed as the Executive Director for the Hocking Hills Senior Center where she helped seniors in rural Appalachia.
Commitment to her community and respect by others is evident. As President of the Hocking County Tourism Association, she made contact with the 1992 Ameriflora Exhibition at Franklin Park Conservatory. Through this connection, the current Hocking Hills Regional Welcome Center building and waterwheel were obtained. She was President of the Logan-Hocking Chamber of Commerce. She was the first female to be asked to join the Rotary Club and Kiwanis, but declined due to a full schedule. Regionally, for Southern Ohio, mom served on the ELCA Bishop’s Board. Wishing to apply her knowledge, experience and support for community, she was the first female who ran for Hocking County Commissioner and she ran three times. The third time she missed getting into office by a nominal number of votes.
In 1993 my mom began to fulfill another long-time dream of hers—to operate a Bed and Breakfast. My dad remodeled the original farmhouse a second time and added a large additional wing with 3 private bedrooms and baths, great room/breakfast and social area. Mom decorated with her special flare of Victorian style throughout much of the Bear Run Inn and made huge, delicious breakfasts! In 1996 they began to remodel and build other structures on their property to rent out as cabins and cottages as the demand for private units picked up. About seven years ago or so, while still acting as Innkeeper of the Bear Run Inn, she began to dabble in sculpting during the winter when the lodging business slowed down. She was inspired by an artist that was featured in one of her Victorian magazines. This is where life got very interesting!
My mom has never been trained in any aspect of art or sculpting. What transpired as she taught herself how to sculpt was quite incredible. She began with life-sized sculptures of vintage Santa Clauses and then began doing smaller “little people”, sculptures that are around 1.5’ tall. Each piece is unique and divinely inspired in a way that’s astonishing. Old mannequins are the bodies for the life-size pieces. For the “little people” body parts are old wiring and plumbing parts from years of dad remodeling the B&B and building cabins and cottages for their business. For hair she uses sheep hair, alpaca hair, wigs and even my dad’s old hair pieces. The struggle of poverty as a youth definitely paid off, because now my mom custom designs much of the clothing for both the life-sized sculptures and the “little people.” For one life-sized Santa, she recycled old red velvet curtains that we had in our home in the 1970’s.
The sculptures have their own unique “spark of life” and endearing names. One of her sculptures is “Wilma The Washerwoman” who is cleaning clothes on a miniature washboard from the local Washboard Factory. There’s a serenading couple where the male guitarist is wooing the female with “Oh My Darlin’ Clementine.” One scene displays Western Gamblers playing poker and sitting around a miniature table drinking various spirits such as “fire water, moonshine and fancy bourbon.” Since mom went to a one-room schoolhouse, she had personal experience with the “school marm” she created. There are helper elves for Santa as well: Matilda the red headed doll maker, Harry Hayseed the reindeer tender, Ralphie the toy maker, and Flip the flight engineer for Santa and his reindeer. Two Western cowboys enjoying their strong morning cup of coffee around a campfire grace her studio as well as Paul Munyon (a play on Paul Bunyon). Francoise the French Chef was definitely a favorite. He was her first sale! Her sculptures seem alive. She was juried for the Lancaster Arts Festival a few years ago. Children and adults believed her jovial life-sized Santa displayed at this event to be a real person. No joke, I was there!
As a family, we’ve all been inspired by the gift from God that literally “fell into my mom’s lap” at such a mature stage in life—with absolutely no training! Family members donate various items for her sculptures including props, gadgets, accoutrements and clothing. We all support her talent, gift and love for sculpting. The name of her business is “My Happy Heart,” as she said it makes her heart happy when she’s sculpting. Isn’t that the way life should be for us all? Getting to do things that make our hearts happy?
For the past 1.5 years mom has been very sick, going through cancer treatment. She’s weak much of the time, but periodically gets enough energy to sculpt and it makes her very happy. She’s sold about 5 pieces as they’ve been on display at the downtown Homegrown Art on Main Street in Logan, Ohio. One item was a custom design order. She’s currently working on 3 new “little people” and has started the following life-sized sculptures: John Wayne and a Native American Indian of Sioux origin. More “little people” keep my mom company while she sculpts and are patiently waiting for adoption in her studio in Hocking Hills.
Despite hardship and difficulties in life, my mom bloomed wherever she landed. Now, in the maturing stages of her life, she is blossoming in Hocking County with her artwork. I’d like to make sure that she is honored in a special way for her 80th birthday, as she should be. My hope is that people get a chance to see and know my beautiful mom as the amazing person and artist that she is.
To view more of Marcia Myers’ work, please visit her Facebook page, “My Happy Heart—Original Sculptures.” https://www.facebook.com/myhappyheartsculptures
Marcia Myers, owner of “My Happy Heart Sculptures,” can be reached by her email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special Note: Although my parents no longer operate the Bear Run Inn, my niece does operate the cabin and cottage part of their business, Bear Run Inn—Cabins and Cottages.
Written by Gwendolyn S. Corbett, daughter of Marcia J. Myers
calendar of events list