Fairfax hobbyist looks to unload walking stick stockpile

Published: Aug. 18, 2022 at 4:20 PM EDT
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FAIRFAX, Vt. (WCAX) - We all have hobbies to help pass the time. Elissa Borden met a Fairfax man whose walking stick hobby has helped him whittle away the time.

Ron Mashia celebrates his 85th birthday next month. Living alone, the Fairfax man is fairly self-sufficient, but with two bad knees, he needs a little help getting around.

“All my sticks come from right just across the lawn in the backyard there,” Mashia said.

He made himself a walking stick to get from room to room in his home a few years back and has since picked it up as a hobby. “I can’t do nothing else, but I can do this sitting down. That’s what I want to try to do,” Mashia said.

Sitting on 14 acres of land, there are sticks aplenty to transform. Mashia says he hops on his ATV and rides into the woods until he finds the perfect ones. Then, he gets to work. “There’s a lot more work to these than people might think there is. You have to strip all the bark off of them, leave what you want -- like here -- and then you have to sand them,” he said.

It takes a lot of time to get the sticks into the condition he wants. For a while, he had the company of his wife, Shirley, who would sit on the front porch with him while he whittled away. “She used to come out and laugh at me and say, ‘How many you gonna make hun?’ I says, ‘Your guess is as good as mine.’”

Shirley died from cancer about two years ago, but Ron still sits out front making the sticks to pass the time. “Sometimes I sit there all day long,” Mashia said. Over the years, he has amassed over 150 sticks. He has tried to sell them -- without much luck -- in his rural Fairfax neighborhood. “Some are long. Some are short -- for younger kids if they want or shorter people -- whatever.”

Some of the sticks have designs like ladybugs or dogs. One even has a nickel. Now, Mashia is left looking for buyers. He says he’s not looking to break the bank. These sticks start at $25. But for this outdoorsman, working with his hands is priceless. “My son says to me, ‘You making sticks again, walking sticks again?’ And I says, ‘Well, I haven’t got nothing else to do,” Mashia said.

He says he doesn’t have a phone because he doesn’t want one, but his kids are stepping in to help sell the sticks. Call if you’d like to swing by and see them for yourself. Contact: WalkingstickRon@Gmail.com.