North Dakota winter Texan resident well known for his creativity, craftsmanship
By: Rocio Villalobos
Welcome back to another edition of our weekly spotlight, created to help you get to know fellow RV resort and mobile home community friends! These individuals have an extraordinary story or are making an impact in the RGV community by serving others in some special way.
Clifford Johnson been a construction worker, member of the army, truck driver and now — although retired — he’s a craftsman and inventor.
His preferred materials are PVC pipes and wood. Using them he’s fashioned a bike rack, end table that fits between his recliners, napkin holders and more. For woodwork, his wife helps by painting and varnishing. Johnson is self-taught and goes by “trial and error.”
Even before his retirement, Johnson liked to create things to solve problems; the only difference is that now he can work on his hobby, he said, whenever he feels like it.
“I spent many hours driving a truck, so when you get an idea, to pass the time, you figure out how to make it,” he said. “Now that I’m retired I have no time schedule and time goes by fast when I’m working on things”
He is so handy with the pipes, and so well known for it, that for his 80th birthday, which he celebrated in September, a friend made him a cake out of various sized PVC pipes.
Not only does he build things for him and his wife’s use, but he also helps create things to solve problems around the park, Eldorado Acres in Palmview, where they spend eight months out of they year to avoid the North Dakota cold.
For instance, he helps set up the speakers and musical equipment for Eldorado’s jams. A 100-foot cable is involved but only about a tenth of it is needed to reach from point A to point B, so the remainder of the cable ran up and down the floor. And when it came time to put everything away, bundling the long cable felt like a chore, Johnson said, which led him to think, “there’s got to be a better way.”
So using spare reels he had lying around, along with a few PVC pipes to provide structure, he created a device to keep the excess cable wrapped up, effectively reducing set up and take down time by half of what it previously took, he said.
Johnson has a shed right outside of him and his wife’s RV where he keeps all of his supplies neatly stored; many of his tools are kept in storage he created to maximize visibility and ease of reach.
“If you don’t know where something is, you might as well throw it away,” he said.
One of his inventions he’s most proud of is the rain cover on his golf cart, which he made by fastening weatherproof plastic to PVC pipes he used to frame a passenger door and the windshield.
Outside of his hobby, he enjoys going to his park’s Saturday night dances with his wife and visiting with their friends who he calls “extended family.”
While he doesn’t get around to working on a project every day, Johnson said he intends to continue building and inventing things that help make life simpler.
“I find it relaxing, enjoyable and what I like doing is making something new,” he said. “Doing things like that is what keeps my mind going.”
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