December 20, 2014

Arenac County cane man

Mason Twp. WWII vet uses hobby to serve others

Tim Barnum
Ovid McBroom shows off two of his favorite canes, which have natural grooving due to vines that wrapped around the tree they were carved out of.
Posted

MASON TOWNSHIP — For a leg in pain, he’s got a cane.

Free of charge.

Ovid McBroom, 83, of Mason Township enjoys crafting wooden canes out of cedar and oak, but says about a year ago, he started offering the canes to people he’d see limping or struggling to get around.

“I’ll see a person in Wal-mart pushing a cart and having trouble getting a long and I’ll say ‘You want a cane?’” McBroom said. “I carry four or five in the car with me.

“I bet you I’ve given away 100 this year,” he added. “I’ve got to use one myself and I figured if I need one, there’s got to be somebody else who does.”

McBroom, who was drafted into the U.S. Army during World War II, says most of the individuals looking for improved mobility from his handcrafted canes are from nearby.

“They’re neighbors. They know I’ve got them (canes) so they just come on over if they need one,” he said, adding although he doesn’t ask for any money, he does accept donations and sometimes people will pay him in another way. “They sometimes offer me things like fruit and vegetables.”

And as far as he is concerned, he says it seems the clients are pleased.

“I know I’ve gotten two or three letters back from people thanking me for the cane,” he said, adding one of the letters came from a woman in Florida, whose sister gave her a cane made by McBroom.

The Tennessee native who was nicknamed “Wild Bill” by his brothers when he was young, says he retired from General Motors about 20 years ago before he started working on the wooden canes. He also says he makes canes of various sizes and weights.

Copyright © 2014, Sunrise Publishing. Powered by: Creative Circle Advertising Solutions, Inc.