Here I am with my father out for a Sunday drive a several years ago. The horse was my 20-something Saddlebred named "Jake". I restored this 1881 Stivers sidebar runabout from the ground up. The carriage and several of my pieces are now in a collector's museum.
Denninger Products is a fourth generation family business which began in the 1870's with my great-grandfather, in Brooklyn, New York. At that time, they made wood and felt products, and the shop ran on a steam engine. My grandfather, moved the business and family out of the city in 1937 to beautiful Orange County, NY. But it wasn't until my father (in the photo above) took over the business in 1956, that Denninger Products became a major supplier of polishing buffs and small tools for the jewelry and dental trades. In 1974 my father sold the original Denninger Products, and the felt polishing buffs and tools we made are still being made under the name "Denninger Felt Products". As the youngest Denninger, I virtually grew up in this rural family business consisting of a complete wood shop, felt business, machine shop and farm where I laid the foundation for my own future in business and as an artist.
I will always have a great love for horses (although as a kid, I thought of a horse more like the kids today think of a motorcycle or 4 wheeler!) I held onto the love of horses seriously for quite a while. After graduating high school, I studied and apprenticed as a farrier and blacksmith. I spent the next 15 years shoeing horses in and out of some of the finest show horse stables in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New England. I belonged to, and served as an officer in the NY, NJ & PA Farriers' Associations and competed relentlessly for a few years in the early '80's in many farrier competitions up and down the East Coast. I won the Golden Hammer in New Jersey in 1982. I have always kept the forge going, not only for hand making most of the shoes I needed, but for producing and repairing all types of traditional ironwork as well. Now I keep the fire lit for forging the copper and brass for my weathervanes, finials and sculptures.
Now when I'm not in the shop making weather vanes and finials for our interesting customers, I have about 6 thousand interests (and counting) . . .
I had a great passion for archery for years. I started out shooting my compound hunting bow at local 3D's, and I shot in an indoor 3D league over the winters. But as I tend to do, I wanted to take it to "another level" . . . I started shooting target archery Olympic style (recurve with fingers). It was quite a mental and physical challenge to accurately shoot arrow after arrow at 90 meters (about 98 yards) - that was the whole idea. I met a great coach and friend Monty Roca in 1999. And boy did my form improve...
Finishing a shot at the 1999 New Jersey State Championships
In 1999 my big archery goal was to make the Hudson Valley Team for the Empire State Games, and of course, to do well. Both came true. That season I improved my scores at every tournament. I have Monty to thank, and a lot of hours of practice. I ended up 7th in the overall scoring at the games. In 1999 I placed 5th at the New York State Championships and 6th in New Jersey (guest division). Since 2000 I struggled with an uncooperative shoulder. I was not able to in put the extensive practice but instead concentrated on the more important mental part of the game. The perserverance paid off. I made the Hudson Valley Team again in 2000 and scored just 3 points behind the previous year.
In 2005 Beth & I moved to our dream home and shop. We found a very
secluded, well actually quite remote, 9 acres with a glass front lake house on
the end of a peninsula down on Bull Shoals Lake right on the MO/AR border. What
we found is a place to live and work and have our being all on one property and
never feel like we have to go somewhere on vacation. The view still stops me in
my tracks and sometimes it is hard to get back to work. Looking out over the
water is an ever-changing experience and we are very grateful for the Grace
that brought us here.
What a view.
It's always a beautiful day in the Ozarks!
Bull Shoals is an incredibly beautiful lake with over 1,000 miles of shore line (over 45,000 acres) and lots and lots of places to fish, ski, tube or just slip into a secluded cove and have a swim in the warm summer waters. The lake never freezes, and we boat all year 'round. The lake is a world class fishery with several state records for both Missouri and Arkansas being taken from its crystal clear waters. Present Arkansas records include - Smallmouth Bass & Spotted Bass and Missouri Records include - Brown Trout, Largemouth Bass, Longnose Gar, Striped Bass, Walleye & Yellow Perch. I am sure that the "ol' Bull" has a world record Walleye just swimmin' around in her right now - since the lake is ranked as one of the top five in the world to catch the new record. Hey - it can't hurt to dream a little...
Since our migration to the Ozarks, I have gotten "just a
little" interested in fishing for Walleye. I belonged to Mid South
Walleyes out of Springfield, MO and the Walleye Anglers Group and Rod &
Reel Club in Mountain Home, AR. I have made some good fishing buddies here
already and I've enjoyed the competition of several Walleye tournaments. In the
2007 MSW series my partner and I took 2nd place twice, and won the "big
fish pot" once, finishing fourth overall. That qualified our team for an
invitation to the Cabelas NTC (National Team Championship) that was held June
2008 in Mobridge, SD. In 2008, we took first place in the MSW Bull Shoals Open
Walleye Tournament. Our basket weighed 25.6 pounds, setting a new one-day
five-fish club record.
Also in June 2008 I fished as a co-angler in the Bull Shoals PWT (Professional Walleye Tour). Preceding the tournament I was invited by Keith Kavajecz of "The Next Bite" and "Bass Pro Outdoorworld Television" shows, and Dave Anderson to pre-fish a few days. Then I luckily drew an all-star pro lineup to partner with for the 3-day PWT. Day 1 was with Jim Muzynoski. Day 2 was with Bill Ortiz (who won the tournament) Check out the guy behind Bill in the photo and our on stage photo! And Day 3 was with Gary Parsons also of "The Next Bite" and "Bass Pro Outdoorworld Television" shows (he was ranked #1 nationally at the time). After Day 2, I was in first place, and I finished in third place overall among the co-anglers. What a great experience! Too bad it was the last year of existance for the PWT...
We finished out the year with one more win and a second place. That won us the Southern division for the MSW and qualified us for another trip to the Cabela's NTC invitational. We also won the big fish for the year. I have quite a wall of trophy/plaques to show for 2008. Still can't believe it.
Beth & I believe in supporting our community and we were a part of the effort to build and equip a new Firehouse Substation just 4.2 miles from our home serving about 150 other outlying homes and properties. A small piece of land was donated, the money was raised and firehouse built debt-free in under 6 months - I love the Midwest's independent can-do attitude! I was Captain of that station after serving as Lieutenant for a year.
The Fire Truck and I are both 1956 models. The International Harvestor - Howe pumper is now back in wonderful original unrestored condition. It still runs and pumps as it did 53 years ago. It was retired formally in 2009 after 53 years of service, the last 24 years spent right here in Theodosia. I bought it from the department with a total of 14,300 original miles on it and now use it for parades, auto shows, and hopefully inspiring the next generation of firefighters.
It's also kinda handy to have my own truck, ready to go, right here on my property.
I am a Practitioner and Teacher of Joel S. Goldsmith's Infinite Way
message. I am so grateful to my lifelong friend Walter
J. Otto, now passed, who literally spent over 20 years introducing me
to it. Walt's patience and perserverance as a mentor and teacher was unfailing,
unconditional, honest and true. Each day, as I rest back to feel God's presence
and guidance from within, I realize a little more about the service I am to do
through Him - To quote Robert Browning - "to open out a way for His
imprisoned splendor to escape..."
Visit my local Joel S Goldsmith - Infinite Way Study Group: Infinite Way Students of the Ozarks