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History of Conejo Valley Woodworker's Association

by Howard Ford

In January 1994 I felt the pains of loss as a result of the closing of the Shopsmith/Woodworking Unlimited store in Newbury Park, California. It was in its last days before closing it's doors for the last time. The store had served the community in several ways. It provided a local establishment for the purchase of many items used in woodworking. There were weekly "Saw Dust" Sessions (Educational Sessions) as well as some additional special workshops. The store and it's staff helped a number of people develop an interest in wood working. By design and by accident, the store created a place and a circumstance that resulted in the development of friendships. 

This was all going away and I personally felt very disappointed and there were a number of other people with similar feelings. I was learning a lot at the saw dust sessions and had developed friends that I would no longer see. In an effort to deal with the loss I tried to think objectively about it. I discovered that one thing that Shopsmith provided, that we could not continue to experience without the store, was the sale of woodworking products. If we could get together regularly we could continue the learning and we could create a circumstance (meetings) where we would be able to continue our friendships. With heaviness of my emotions, because of the coming loss, I walked into the Shopsmith store determined to do something about our dilemma. I discovered Duane Nightingale, an employee of the store, was collecting names and addresses of people who felt some of the same feelings and were interested in having some kind of continuation of what we had at Shopsmith.

All of the staff at Shopsmith were cooperative and helpful. The staff consisted of: Store Manager - Howard Johnson; Employees - Duane Nightingale, Don Johnson and Brad Andresen. Howard Johnson had made a contact that led me to James Jordan of Grandpa's Workshop of Newbury Park who provided us with a free meeting place for many months. Duane Nightingale gave me 11 names and addresses and most of them became charter members of the Association. Don Johnson was and still is a strong supporter of the Association. Brady continued his teaching skills by inviting us to his shop and serving on the Board of Directors the first year.

I came up with 42 names and addresses of people who might be interested in starting a woodworking organization in our community. Most of these names came as a result of my new found friends at the Shopsmith store and the help of Howard Johnson and others. I added the 11 names from Duane and prepared a letter of intent to start a woodworkers organization and sent it to the 53 people. John Tarpley provided the cost of the postage and I prepared and mailed out the letters in January of 1994. The letter had a "cut off" at the bottom for them to send to me if they wanted to be notified of the organizational meeting. Five of these addresses were not from Ventura Co. but most of the locals to whom the letters were sent participated in the first year of the existence of CVWA. I still have a copy of that letter.

Once the response from that first mailing was in, John Tarpley and I decided on a meeting date. In the mean time I had secured Grandpa's Woodshop as our meeting place. John and I spent a few hours cleaning and preparing the loft, that Jim was using for storage, at Grandpa's Woodshop. I mailed the letters announcing the organizational meeting to all who had indicated they were interested. Following is a replication of that letter:

W O O D W O R K E R S     A S S O C I A T I O N
Temporary Address
(Howard's Street address)
Newbury Park, California 91320
(Howard's phone number)

February 8, 1994

Dear Woodworkers:

Thank you for your expressed interest in being a part of a Woodworkers' Association. We are excited to make the following announcement.

There will be an organizational meeting February 19, 1994 for the purpose of establishing an association specifically designed for WOODWORKERS. You are invited to attend and join with others in the formation of a group that can be beneficial to each other.

Membership applications will be available at the meeting and all who join will be charter members of the organization. The amount of the annual fee is to be established at the meeting. If you want to be a charter member and are unable to attend the meeting then please notify us of your intention to join. You will be notified as to the annual fee and a membership application will be sent to you.

We want the group to have a broad spectrum of interests and activities which has woodworking as its common center. If you are only interested in a small category of woodworking then be a part of the group so that particular activity will be included. Your skill, when shared with others, will become of vital part of the group. We want to learn together. Many people will be owners of Shopsmith equipment but the group is for everyone and not just for Shopsmith owners. If you know of anyone who is interested then bring them to the meeting.

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Date and Time: SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 1994 AT 10:00 a.m.

                        2639 Lavery Ct. #4
                        Newbury Park

Bring:  You will need to bring your own chair

                                                                                   Organizational Committee

                                                                                   Howard Ford

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(Bottom of the page had a hand drawn map of how to get to Grandpa's Woodshop.)