Ernest Adams with some of his craft stick structures

By Lisa Church, business development director


You know what they say about idle hands being the devil’s workshop.


Ernest Adams doesn’t plan to let that happen. Instead, his hands stay busy in the workshop he’s set up in his room at Life Care Center of Cape Girardeau, Missouri. It’s here that the 92-year-old painstakingly builds birdhouses, playhouses and even garages out of brightly colored craft sticks.


“I saw these sticks, and I thought, ‘Well, somebody ought to make something out of these,’” said Adams. “So then I just fell on this plan myself. Nobody showed me nothing.”


Using various sizes of the craft sticks, Adams has built all shapes and sizes of structures. Unlike an architect, he makes no sketches or measurements. He gets a vision of the building in his mind and sets about cutting the sticks to the sizes he needs. He glues them together with Gorilla Glue because, he says, “that’s the best there is,” and uses binder clips to hold the pieces in place until the glue dries. At the suggestion of Life Care shuttle driver Gina Schwab, who occasionally takes Adams on his supply-buying trips, he has started embellishing the houses with rhinestones and pre-cut creatures like owls and deer.


Two three-drawer carts in Adams’ room hold his many supplies. His Bible sits atop one cabinet with a few supplies resting on it.


“I like to work,” Adams said. “It gives me something to do, and that helps. Plus, people like them. People want one, and I make it for them. I bet I’ve built over a hundred of these since I’ve been here.”


One might think Adams, a World War II veteran, worked in construction when he was younger, but he was a truck driver with routes through Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota and Nebraska. He was later a bulldozer operator in Illinois, doing work for farmers and the government. He did, however, build cedar furniture for a while in Arkansas.


“This is the porch,” he said, pointing out the features of a current project. “I’m going to make a couple of chairs and put one in each of these corners.”


Adams’ craft stick houses can be seen in offices throughout Life Care Center of Cape Girardeau. Inside his workshop, his hands stay busy working on his next creation.

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