A gift of an old wooden farm wagon earlier this year turned into a project that has kept one local couple busy through much of the pandemic.
“It was one of those things that just kind of evolved,” Jayne Kesler told the Tribune on Thursday.
She was talking about a recently finished vardo that she and her husband, Keith Kesler, have been working on since they took possession of the wagon before March.
Vardos are wagons or “caravans” that were the traditional mode of travel for the Romani people who migrated to Britain where they are sometimes referred to as “gypsies.” (The word is considered pejorative by some Romani.)
Kesler said she and her husband, who have restored antique travel trailers in the past, won’t be traveling with this trailer. Instead they will use it for family or grandchildren who visit.
“It’s like the party place out at the pond,” she said. “We are going to kind of use it as a guest house.”
Kesler said her husband, a retired industrial arts teacher, hatched the idea with her after friends gave them the old wagon when they needed to get it off a piece of property.
“He just loves to build things,” she said.
The couple worked together through much of the spring and summer when they were sticking close to home and away from others because of health concerns surrounding COVID-19.
“We play off each other,” she said.
With the frame, walls and roof complete, Kesler said she made the bedding and pillows for the bunk beds at one end and they worked together making something that can be lived in.
“Then he plumbed it,” she said.
That gave it a small sink. And they found a heater that can be used safely inside.
“The lighting that’s in it is from my grandma and grandpa’s house,” Kesler said.
A small air conditioner is covered to maintain the traditional look and Kesler worked at decorating it with things she likes.
“So it’s got lots of feathers and birds and butterflies,” she said, along with a large stenciled owl on one end that is “the same size as my dining room table.”
Now completed, Kesler said they not only have something fun for the family to enjoy, but something that serves as a reminder of how they passed time during the first part of the pandemic.
“It’s just been a good thing for both of us,” she said, “rather than just sitting around and looking at each other.”