Mitchell County-- In a world where many people want to make a fast dollar, one man is a particular exception.
In fact, he’s just the opposite, taking his time to do quality work for people he doesn’t know.
Ed Ackley looks rather ordinary, but he makes people happy by doing the extraordinary. “I guess it is a parade buggy” says Ed Ackley about the red wagon sitting in his yard with a yellow rope used to move it.
A buggy in bad shape with rotten tires, and broken pulls where you would attach a pony. A buggy about 70 years old that needs more than a face lift. It needs re-building by a miracle worker.
“This whole mechanism is worn out,” says Ed. So, is the rest of it. A board so warped the bolt can’t hold it in place any longer, but Ed Ackley can fix all the buggy’s ills. “It will take about two weeks to finish it,” says Ed.
He spends a lot of time making sure he can re-create the original paint scheme and design on hard wood that will last much longer than the original soft pine.
He obviously enjoys the challenge of resurrecting an old memory. “I just have a big time everyday,” says Ed. That enjoyment started long ago when he was ten years old. His grandfather showed him how to correctly use a handsaw and a hammer. “I think right there that influenced me more than anything in my life,” says Ed, standing in his wood working shop.
He grandfather’s influence grew to the point Ed takes on challenges most wood workers would avoid. “I think the wagon I just done was probably the greatest to me,” says Ed looking at pictures of his recent success story. A horse-drawn wagon used in parades looked like a rolling junk heap when Ed agreed to fix it, an impossible looking job to some people, but Ed made it look brand new.
He’s rather particular about what he resurrects. “If someone wants it tomorrow, I just say I can’t do it,” says the retired maintenance person. He won’t take a project that it requires special tools because he doesn’t want to buy them, and don’t tell him how to do something.
Ed already knows what to do. But, then he doesn’t charge people for his time or talents either. He gives them away to restore their memories, believing if he charged it would take some of his joy out of helping someone. “If I make a dollar I’d have to pay Uncle Sam half of it,” says Ed.
He charges for materials, though, no market up either, just what he paid for them. Ed Ackley prides himself on his quality workmanship and versatility. “Won’t do anything that can’t be undone,” says the man who works long hours in his shop at no charge, for people he doesn’t know-- repairing memories that were almost lost forever.