Toys Out of Trash: Boone County Men Profit Nothing but Joy

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OGDEN, Iowa -- In the most modest corner of town, you’ll find some very proud men.

"These are just good old closet hangers!” laughs 54-year-old Jimmy Merrill.

He and his friend, Dale Howe, can take a bunch of old junk and turn it into something special.

“To me and Dale," Merrill says, "we’re like two kids building giant bike models.”

This ’74 Harley replica is their fifth creation so far.  Each one-of-a-kind and impressive. Made of old bike parts, wood and, whatever.

“This will eventually end up being the exhaust system on that bike,” Merrill says.

Their Easy Rider tribute sold for over $1,100, money that these under-employed handymen could really use.

“With the job market the way that it is," Merrill explains, "they’re doing their own handyman stuff or they’re doing their own repairs.”

The thing is, Merrill and Howe don’t sell the bikes, they give them away to charity auctions supporting sick children, firemen and veterans.

They say the satisfaction that brings them is more than enough.

"I got everything I need," Howe claims. "I got a roof over my head, I got food every day, my dogs eat. Don’t need nothing more.”

They will keep the proceeds from this bike, but use them on the next project, a special one to benefit the family of Kathlynn Shepard.

“I live here in Ogden…Dayton’s only a hop-skip-and-a-jump,” Merrill explains.

They’ll begin with a discarded old Schwinn.

“And it’s gonna be beautiful!" he shouts. "I tell you, it’ll be one of my better pieces of work. It’ll have headlights, taillights…”

It will surely be another point of pride for two men who despite humbling circumstances, have already found more than their share.


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