Sunday, October 26, 2008

Blind craftsman creates spooky world

Telegram Staff Writer

There's not much not scary at the Hoskinson house.
Bats and goblins fly from the trees in the front yard. Skulls and headless men lean on the fencepost, and corpses play peek-a-boo from coffins in the backyard.
'Everything's been up since the first of October,' said David Hoskinson. 'Had to be able to enjoy it.'
It's not the sight of the decorations, though, that pleases the blind Mr. Hoskinson. It's the love of his handiwork.
'He does the carpentry and woodwork,' said wife Mari - who does the painting and helps with the design. 'He works power tools, climbs on ladders, everything. He even does the wiring for the sound. Scary music plays at night.'
Neighbor Rusty Williams attests to the quality of Mr. Hoskinson's skill.
'He makes some awesome stuff,' Williams said. 'He's been working on this year's stuff since the day after last Halloween.' Silverware caddies that look like coffins are additions to the decor this year.
'He hollowed them out of 2-by-4s, sanded them and cut them himself,' Williams said. 'It's amazing to think he's blind, the detail of his work is so fine.'
Before losing his sight 20 years ago, Mr. Hoskinson was a professional in the construction industry.
'I love that kind of work,' he said. 'My hands are my eyes now.'
To lead the way to the garage - 'where the creative madness happens' - the comical Mr. Hoskinson sashayed his hips, swung his hands and said, 'Walk this way.'
Like a man at home in his workshop, Mr. Hoskinson knows where things are. The saw's on the shelf, the glue's in the drawer and the work-in-progress sits on the table. A favorite tool is the National Federation of the Blind tape measure; it uses a digitized voice to speak measurements.
'Most things I can find,' he said. 'Every now and then Mari will have to come and look for something for me.'
When he's not working on Halloween decorations, Mr. Hoskinson likes to build birdhouses and wall hangings. A recent project looks like the front of a log cabin.
'It's meant to hang on the wall like a diorama,' he explained.
It is three-dimensional, complete with shingles, a set of windows, a front door that hangs open and a chimney. Mr. Hoskinson constructed each feature of the log cabin with plywood and woodchips.
'I like detail,' Mr. Hoskinson said.
'That's how his mind thinks,' Mrs. Hoskinson said. 'In details and in numbers.'
As for the Halloween decorations, Mr. Hoskinson said he and his wife are a team.
'We play off of each other to make our Halloween,' he said.
'Our creativity plays off each other,' Mrs. Hoskinson agreed. 'I get an idea or a picture of what I'd like, and I tell him. I tell him how big overall I want it and he makes it. He puts his own twist on it that makes it that much better.'
The couple's purpose is to host the Hoskinson Haunt - a tradition now 3 years old. It's a Halloween party that takes place the Saturday before Halloween. This year's Haunt was last night. About 40 couples attended.
Neighbor Jean Graham said she's grateful for the Halloween fun.
'They put a lot of effort into it,' Ms. Graham said. 'You hear about people going all out for Christmas, but they go all out for Halloween. It's festive, and I'm glad they're on my block.'
'At the party, there was a costume contest, some ghostly entertainment and dinner was severed,' Mrs. Hoskinson said. She grinned at her pun on the word 'served.'
The menu was roast leg of man, dragon intestines in bloody meat sauce, deviled eyes and smashed ghost toes.
'The rule about a good Haunt is that the next one has got to be a little bit bigger and better,' Mrs. Hoskinson said. 'By the Halloween of 2010, we promise we'll be the biggest, best haunt in town. We already have something special planned.'
'We quite enjoy the holiday,' Mrs. Hoskinson said.
Her husband echoed, 'We inspire each other. It makes us happy.'

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