Indian Pass resident Chuck Regner had little problem finding a use for much of the wood he rounded up after Hurricane Michael.
The reason he sought to collect all that wood may have changed, but Regner has managed to offer a positive from the destruction of Hurricane Michael.
Call it the “Leopold bench” with the Regner touches.
We’ll return there in a moment.
Regner initially began collecting the wood from around Indian Pass, C30 and other coastal areas shortly after Michael in order to assist a neighbor with rebuilding a dock which had been destroyed.
“We saw all the lumber around and we started gathering it all up,” Regner said, adding, “It got a bit out of hand.”
But when the neighbor decided instead to sell the house, Regner was left with a substantial pile of displaced wood.
“Suddenly I had all this lumber,” Regner said.
But experience stepped in to lend a hand.
Following Hurricane Dennis, Regner, now retired, ended up with significant pieces of broken docks in his backyard.
Following the inspiration of Aldo Leopold, Regner turned those broken docks into Leopold benches.
Leopold was a noted environmentalist and naturalist who was a professor at the University of Wisconsin.
He created a small spare bench especially for bird watching, actually using it by sitting in the bench backwards with his binoculars balanced on what is the bench’s back.
“It’s a nice design,” said Regner, something of an amateur woodworker. “It looks good and they are very comfortable.”
Using six 2x6 boards, instead of the 2x8 of the standard Leopold, and stainless steel screws, Regner began assembling benches.
And before too long some of his Indian Pass neighbors began inquiring about purchasing the benches after Regner put out the word on social media that he was selling the benches for $40 apiece.
“Nothing about them is perfect,” Regner said. “It is all reclaimed wood, treated lumber. When you add in labor and that, I am not making much money on any of them.
“But they have a lot of appeal because it is something good that came out of the hurricane.”
Marie Steele, who lives in Indian Pass, was one of Regner’s customers.
“Until I sat down on it to view the Gulf from Indian Pass beach I didn’t realize how much I have missed it since it disappeared Oct. 10,” Steele said. “They are really comfortable and really well made by a talented carpenter.”
Several of Regner’s benches have become central to Claudia Bryant’s campfire space on Indian Pass.
“Love these benches,” she said. “They are really comfortable and even more beautiful in person. Fine, fine craftsmanship. They complete my campfire space perfectly.
“The mathematician in me really appreciates the perfect angles of these benches. They may not look comfortable in the photos but they really are very, very comfortable.”