By Katherine Poythress
They named themselves the Childersburg Termites because they go through a lot of wood quickly, most of it ending up in piles of shavings and scraps.
But what these senior citizen woodworkers labor to create is in high demand among friends, family and community members, too.
The Termites began in 1989 at Central Alabama Community College as an offshoot of a cabinetry class, said member Garland Justice. The class was discontinued in 2000, and five years later the college closed the wood shop as well, citing a need for the building.
It was nearly a year before the Termites were up and running again, thanks to the Talladega County Board of Education, which acquired the tools in the wood shop and proceeded to lease them to the city of Childersburg for $1 a year. The city in turn allows the Termites to use the tools, and subsidizes the building and utilities costs for the group.
Now the Termites meet in the old Childersburg High School band room, where air conditioning is no more than a daydream. A giant box fan blows across the room dusted nearly monochromatic with the by product of wood run through saws and then battered into submission with chisels, drills, hammers, nail guns and planes.
Tom Ingram is nearly finished constructing a toy box almost large enough to serve as a playhouse. It’s for his grandbabies, he said.
“I was in an auto accident in 1998, and the doctor told me I had to retire,” Ingram said. “So I decided I needed a hobby.”
His father was a carpenter and helped build the barracks at Fort Benning in Georgia, later working on homes in Anniston.
“I guess I took it from him, but I didn’t learn it from him,” Ingram said.
Garland Justice, one of the original Termites members and a former carpentry instructor at CACC, said he has been working with wood since he was “a little bitty boy.”