NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Most of us grow up knowing exactly what we're great at. For some, it's sports. For others, it's singing or acting. The list goes on. But there are those who go years without really knowing what makes them unique. You can just ask one North Little Rock man who found his talent at a time and place he didn't expect.
Like many of those who are long retired, John Carr loves sitting outside in his backyard enjoying nature by the beauty of the lake.
“This lake I live on is full of bass and if I told you how many I caught in one day, I’d have to have my hand on my Bible before I’d tell you,” said Carr. “Otherwise, you wouldn't believe me.”
Carr’s love of nature doesn't stop there. This 85-year-old keeps busy making nature come alive. Carr’s home is filled with an assortment of incredible pieces of carved wood art sculptures. He has everything from bears and owls to Native Americans and cowboys. Every piece was created and carved by Carr.
“I was 50 before I ever carved my first piece,” he said.
Carr had spent most of his life using his hands as his trade skill. He worked for decades as a union plasterer.
“That's all I’ve ever done is work with my hands,” he said.
But even after all those years, he hadn't yet discovered how much more his hands could hold. He was merely grasping at a gift that was waiting to be “sizzled”.
“Down on 107 and 47th and McCain there was a Western Sizzlin’ that had carvings all over the restaurant,” he said. “I was sitting there eating one day and a cowboy [on the wall] was looking at me while I was in the booth and I thought I might give that a shot to see what I can do.”
From that day on, Carr was one hundred percent self-taught by good ol’ trial and error.
“My first piece I surprised myself,” he said. “I didn’t know I could do that.”
While he said he made a lot of mistakes, he managed to keep himself together.
“I didn't lose any fingers doing it or anything,” he said. “So I guess I am good.”
That was nearly 30 years ago. Now, he’s an expert carver. But, his humble heart has left his skill a secret known only to a few close friends and family.
“I don't broadcast it, I don't sell it, and I don't go to craft shows and display my work,” he said. “I just enjoy it.”
For the first time, Carr said he was willing to share his gift with the world. He wants to let others know it's never too late to try something new.
“The first time you do something don't get discouraged,” he said. “There are better days ahead if you keep at it.”
He is also holding himself accountable. He said he hopes his creations aren't finished yet.
“I was thinking I would like to do one more piece before I die just to see if I can do it,” he said.
He’s hoping to carve his own miniature Mount Rushmore.
“That’s been on my mind but beyond that it doesn't go any farther,” he said. “I just take it a day at a time.”