Benson still working hard in retirement

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 26, 1999

Warren Benson thinks he’s found a pretty good way to spend his retirement. A few days a week, you can find him selling his birdhouses and painted wooden Santa Claus cutouts at the Adams County Farmer’s Market or at the Kroger parking lot off Seargent S. Prentiss Drive.

Sunday afternoon, dressed in paint-splattered overalls, he was outside Kroger, waiting for customers to notice the brightly painted figures and birdhouses outside his brown van.

Benson makes birdhouses shaped like churches, some that use ordinary household items like flatware and doorknobs, and some that look like old gas stations – complete with tin roof.

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But, he said, &uot;They’re all different. I don’t make no two of them alike.&uot;

All of Benson’s birdhouses are designed so that the bottom can be removed. That helps when it comes to cleaning them out, he said.

Benson, who says he’s always like birds, just retired this summer from Johns Manville, where he was a pipefitter for 34 years. He’s been woodworking for more than 20 years, something he said he started to &uot;get my mind off work.&uot;

Benson originally hails from Friendship, Ark., but moved to Natchez – after a stint in the service and after 15 years in California – because it’s the hometown of his wife of 42 years, Leslie.

Together they have a daughter and two grandchildren who live in Tampa, Fla.

A few stores around the area also sell Benson’s work, including the Super Feed Market in Concordia Parish, he said.

Showing off pictures of cutouts of Santa and his reindeer and a family of snowmen, Benson said he’s never been artistic.

&uot;I’ve come a long way,&uot; he said. &uot;I wish I had a picture of one of the first Santa Clauses I did.&uot;

He started off using patterns for the Christmas figures, but eventually he designed his own.

What began as a hobby may have turned into a second career for Benson.

&uot;I work harder now that I did when I was working,&uot; he laughed.