Sam's Village: Sam Shibler creates a village within the village of Clayton

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Most people look at a pile of junk and see just that—a pile of junk.

That’s not how it works for Sam Shibler. He sees things differently.

Sam sees a small scale feed mill. He sees a locomotive just big enough for a child to sit inside. He sees tractors and a lighthouse, tables and benches, a bird house, a barn and a train depot.

Right now he’s trying to see a church.

Over the past dozen years, Sam Shibler has created a miniature village in his home town of Clayton. Spread across the lot next to his woodworking and antique store is an array of small buildings and other creations.

The lot is getting full, but he’s not done yet.

“I’ve got plans for two or three more,” he said. “The next thing…I’ve got a lot of people who want me to make a little church.”

Planning for the church means scouting around for construction material.

“I’m looking at other people’s junk to see what I can do with it,” Sam said. “As you can see, almost everything here is recycled.”

He points to a building that serves as a mock machine shed. This was his first creation. The shell of the building was once an enormous shipping crate from overseas. Sam covered it over, added a door and windows, and finished it off with trim and decorations.

The jail in his little village came from another part of Clayton where it used to serve as a playhouse for kids. His feed mill once was part of a real feed mill. It was the cupola on top of the old Anderson mill in town.

His trading post was part of Clayton’s old slaughterhouse. Mom’s Place was once an old addition on the side of Joe Borck’s house on Tomer Road. A small metal building once functioned as a Consumer Power shed.

His bank was…now Sam is puzzled. The origin of that building is eluding him.

Finally the connection is made.

“It came from Posey Lake off an old cottage,” Sam recalls.

Every building tells a story, and that’s why it would be so difficult to watch one get hauled away down the street.

“At first I was going to sell the buildings, but it’s hard to part with them.”

It’s the little outhouse/storage sheds and the new line of log cabin design outbuildings that he’s selling. Those and the benches, tables, cabinets, houses for birds, bats and butterflies, and all the other myriad creations.

When Sam sees something useful, he doesn’t always know what’s going to become of it.

“Sometimes I’ll look at something for six months and then I’ll say, ‘That’s why I brought it home.’”

And sometimes he thinks he knows what’s coming up, but even he ends up surprised.

“I’ll build a floor and I’ll tell people it’s going to be one thing,” he said. “They’ll come back a week later and it’s something else.”

Other times it’s all too obvious. He once saw an old metal shower and knew he had to have it.

“When I saw that, I just knew it was going to make a good milk truck,” he said.

The truck is now part of his collection, out there near the locomotive and train depot. In Sam’s eye, his lot looked a little empty in the middle so he built a wooden water tower for the locomotive. Right now, he likes that water tower more than anything he’s built.

“It’s the lighthouse and the barn that are drawing the most attention,” Sam said, “and now the log cabins are catching on.”

He’ll keep turning out those cabins, along with the benches and cabinets and bird houses. The love for working with wood must run in his blood.

“I’ve been making stuff ever since I could drive a nail,” he said. “I’m just a nut building some buildings.”

    – Sept. 18, 2002 
  • Front.bridge Cross
    STEP BY STEP—Wyatt Stevens of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge Sunday during the Michigan DNR’s Great Outdoors Jamboree at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The Tecumseh Boy Scout Troop constructed the bridge again this year after taking a break in 2016. The Jamboree offered a variety of activities for a wide range of age groups. Morenci’s Stair District Library set up activities again this year and had visits with dozens of kids. See the back page for additional photos.
  • Front.bridge.17
    LEADING THE WAY—The Morenci Area High School marching band led the way across the pedestrian bridge on Morenci’s south side for the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. The Band Boosters shared profits from the sale of T-shirts with the walk’s sponsor, the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.eclipse
    LOOKING UP—More than 200 people showed up at Stair District Library Monday afternoon to view the big celestial event with free glasses provided by a grant from the Space Science Institute. The library offered craft activities from noon to 1 p.m., refreshments including Cosmic Cake from Zingerman’s Bakehouse and a live viewing of the eclipse from NASA on a large screen. As the sky darkened slightly, more and more people moved outside to the sidewalk to take a look at the shrinking sun. If you missed it, hang on for the next total eclipse in 2024 as the path comes even closer to this area.
  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Front.batter

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2017