While growing up in Los Angeles, John Bradach and his older brother Lloyd built most of the furniture in their parents’ house.
His first junior high school project was a laundry stick that was used to take laundry out of the wash tub before it hit the wringer.
“I don’t know how many I made but every lady in the neighborhood wanted one, said Bradach.” By the age of 17, he had built a bed, coffee tables, end tables and a corner cabinet for his mother. At the age of 82, the U.S. Air Force veteran has no intentions of slowing down.
Bradach served from 1948-1953 during the Korean War in radio communications, first in then Okinawa, Japan, then Korea.
“When we got to the Quonset huts in Okinawa, there was no furniture, beds – nothing,” he said. “We didn’t even have complete walls or mosquito nets.” Bradach found some lumber, nails, a hand-saw and built himself a desk. “You had to make do with what you had and be a bit creative,” said Bradach.
He recalls that a congressman came for a one-week visit but left after the first night. “About six months later the Quonset huts were rebuilt with complete walls and a roof. “Instead of having canvas for a door we got a real wooden door, which was great because I had the bunk next to the door.” They also got hot water for showers and a roof over the latrine. “It was wonderful.”
Bradach beautified the front yard of his living quarters in Okinawa by gathering stones, painting them white and then formed them into two circles. It didn’t seem like much of an improvement but he received ‘Airman of the Week’ for the 623rd Air Craft Control and Warning Squadron, a three-day pass, five extra dollars and was written up in the Ryukyua Review, the island paper.
From rocking chairs to curio cabinets, if Bradach can lay it out on a pattern, he can build it. One thing he claims he can’t do very well is to make a box. “They never seem to come out quite square.”
One of his latest projects is building replica guns for his daughter Natalee Norwood, creator of “The Spoiled Doves of Texas,” an entertainment company who will enhance your event with authentic dressing, speaking and dancing true to the Old West.
“It takes about two weeks to build a gun because of glue drying time.” His band-saw keepsake boxes take five pieces of lumber and 17 different steps. “If you mess up or miss one step, you have a problem,” he said of the intricate work. A gun can cost on the average of $25 for materials however, he has been offered $500 for a shotgun. “I just do it for fun,” said Bradach.
After 52 years of marriage, Bradach recently lost Ruth, the love of his life. At his new home in Antelope Acres, Calif., he plans to build a garden in her honor where he will display some of their favorite pieces.