First Person: Businessman carves niche

CNJ Staff Photo: Liliana Castillo Chick Taylor works in his woodworking shop because it keeps him happy, he said.

Chick Taylor, 75, carved a home for himself, his wife and brother-in-law from his father’s printing business. The 90-year-old, 7,000-square-foot downtown business building has five bedrooms, five dining areas, a five-car garage and a woodworking shop in the back.

Places to put things: My father owned a printing business in this building and he handed down to me. When I decided to retire, I asked my wife if she wanted to move. A big ol’ tear came down her cheek and she said, “Where will I put all my things?” So we stayed. The only problem with such a big building is that you don’t throw anything away.

Hobby shop: I put the wood shop in the back and slowly collected all the tools I needed. Work shops are meant to keep husbands out from under their wives feet. I don’t do this for a living, but it keeps me happy. If anyone wants anything done, the doors always open.

Knickknacks and heirlooms: I pretty much can fix or rebuild anything brought to me. I’ve built cribs from scratch, benches from scraps laying around. One time, a gentlemen brought me a rocking chair that belonged to his great-great-great-grandmother. It was held together with string and metal rods. It had been scorched by a fire and the wood was rotting. It was in pieces. I fiddled and fiddled and fiddled and when the man came back to get it, he couldn’t believe it was the same chair.

Chair fare: I like to rebuild chairs. The joints dry out, someone leans back and the whole things crashes into pieces. Putting a chair back together is like restructuring the bones of an animal or something.

Lonely living: Living in the downtown area has its ups and downs. One of the upsides is that we don’t have neighbors. But it’s a downside too. We’re friendly people. We like to meet and befriend people.

— Compiled by Liliana Castillo