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Matchstick creations inspire awe, wonder

Last Wednesday the senior citizens at the North East Community Center recaptured the awe and wonder of childhood as they looked at a display of buildings and other objects built entirely of wooden matchsticks.

“I don’t think there is anyone else out there with this kind of exhibit,” said the models’ builder Felix Rodriguez.

The long tables held exact replicas of the Alamo and several old missions in Texas, some even with an altar inside. There was also an entire old western town, complete with a chair inside the barber’s shop, hitching posts, water towers with ladders, and a gallows.

However, the three foot tall replica of an old-style Coca-Cola bottle with even the words made of matchsticks received the most attention.

Rodriguez, a regular at the center, built the display over the last forty years. He brought his projects to the center to show his friends in the wood carving class, which put away their carvings for the day for Rodriguez to teach them how he makes his models.

“Not everybody can do that. You have to be gifted and creative. But he can teach us some techniques,” said Erasmo Vela.

Rodriguez began his hobby when his sister-in-law dared him to make something out of toothpicks. He responded by making her a toothpick bird in a birdcage. Rodriguez enjoyed the project but thought matches may do a better job. Rodriguez said most of his projects take about six months to complete. The large coke bottle took him a year.

“They may not be worth a lot but it leaves my family something to remember their grandpa by,” he said.