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Hopes to display it in Roundhouse at this year’s fair

  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Ron Gleason of Greenfield and his model of the Bridge of Flowers.

    Recorder/Paul Franz
    Ron Gleason of Greenfield and his model of the Bridge of Flowers.

  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Ron Gleason of Greenfield and his model of the Bridge of Flowers.

    Recorder/Paul Franz
    Ron Gleason of Greenfield and his model of the Bridge of Flowers.

  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Ron Gleason of Greenfield and his model of the Bridge of Flowers.
  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Ron Gleason of Greenfield and his model of the Bridge of Flowers.

GREENFIELD — When Ronald Gleason retired in 2006 from a 20-year stint with textile manufacturer Kendall Mills, he wondered how he’d keep himself busy.

“I didn’t want to just sit and watch television all day,” said Gleason, who was born and raised in Colrain, but moved to Greenfield 25 years ago with his wife of 54 years, Janice.

The father of three daughters, grandfather of five boys and two girls, and great-grandfather of a 9-month-old boy, said the children, gardening and fishing kept him busy for a while, but he wanted more.

“I’d spent many years helping my kids and their kids with their school projects,” he said. “I loved doing it. I helped one of them build a plantation and another one build a miniature house with all of the furniture. I love to work with my hands.”

So, last November, Gleason started building a model of the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls.

“I’d like to display it in the Roundhouse during the fair this year,” he said. “Then, I plan to give it to the water department in Shelburne, because they take care of the bridge’s maintenance.”

Gleason built the model out of Styrofoam sheets, pipe cleaners, paper and cardboard, plastic, and wood.

He said he has spent about 200 hours on the project so far, and expects it will take another 10 to 15 before he finishes. He said he works on it two to four hours on weekdays.

“I started trying doing it to scale, but it really isn’t at this point,” said Gleason, who not only put the trees and flowers along the bridge’s path, but added ducks, butterflies, an eagle carrying a trout, and tools at the shed at the end of the bridge’s path.

Gleason, who served in the U.S. Air Force, worked 20 years on the railroad, and then went to work at Kendall Mills, said he has always loved the area and the Bridge of Flowers.

The 72-year-old said he would just like to share his creation with others.

“I just want to bring a smile to people’s faces,” said Gleason, who hand painted all of the flora and fauna.

He said he’s not yet sure what he’ll do next, but he’d like to keep busy with his art.

“I’ve always loved art,” he said. “I hope people like this and hope they’ll think I did a good job.”

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