Paul and Barb with Miss Snickers. Photo by Paula Kane

A selection of rocking toys, duck, horse, turtle and even a couple giraffes. Paula Kane

Mr. Gardiner with a selection of wagons. Paula Kane

A wooden pull sled, for the little ones. Paula Kane

A little flyer that rocks. Paula Kane

AVON – Paul Gardiner has been building wooden toys in his basement workshop for 20 years, “give or take”. Most all are made from pine. All are hand-crafted from scratch and all his own designs.

And “not a nail anywhere,” adds Paul, who uses only screws.

In addition to the wooden toys, Paul also builds Adirondack chairs and footstools with a pine tree cut out. Another specialty is picnic tables in three sizes: 4-foot, 6-foot, and 8-foot. All are made with exterior screws and bolts. He also builds blanket chests with inserts and wooden jewelry boxes.

Anyone considering a purchase of one of these unique creations may call Paul at 684-3394 for more information and/or to make an appointment to view the products. Please leave a message. Paul also has posts on the Phillips Maine “Our Home Town” and Franklin County Maine News, Events, Raves, and Rants (uncensored) Facebook pages.

Paul is a native Mainer and an almost lifelong resident of the Phillips area, having moved here with his family from Portland not long after his birth at Maine General Hospital on September 6, 1945. His wife, Barbara, hails from Sturbridge, MA. She came to Avon in 1982. The two met at The Country Pantry, the restaurant that once operated on Route 4 in Avon, where Barbara was employed at the time.

Paul was Chief of the Phillips Fire Department then and “didn’t usually eat in restaurants”. However a fellow officer “talked me into it,” he confided, “and she fell for my uniform.”


Married on Christmas Eve, 1988, the couple was driven to the Congregational Church in Phillips by a friend in the friend’s Model A. Paul whispered an aside in which he confessed that he chose the date of their wedding “so I wouldn’t forget our anniversary.”

With two children each from previous marriages, Paul and Barb also have nine grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter.

“We’re one big blended family,” the two state happily, adding, “And we’re thankful each and every day for living in Avon.”

Since 1990, the Gardiners live in the home they built on property right across Route 4 from the restaurant where they first met. Their place is named “The Springer Farm” and has been part of a dream come true for Barbara, whose lifelong ambition had always been to breed English Springer Spaniels. After three or four years doing just that, Spaniels have continued to be a big part of the Gardiners’ lives. Over the years, the four-footed members of the family have included M&M, Hot Fudge, Sugar, Ichabod, Cocoa Puff, Fudge Ripple, Tootsie Roll, Damien, and their current little girl, Miss Snickers.

“There are no cuter puppies than Springers,” the two agree.

Paul and Barb are members of the Phillips Community Church/UCC. Barb belongs to the Order of the Eastern Star. Paul is a long-time member of the American Legion, Prescott-Fairbanks Post in Phillips. They enjoy traveling and have been “all over the country” visiting friends and family – by rail, it was pointed out, rather than by plane, because “you can see things on a train that you don’t see from the air.”

Celebrating 34 years of marriage this year, the Gardiners’ advice is “don’t ever go to bed mad; we’ve had our differences and we’ve worked through them…help each other shoulder the load.”

Comments are not available on this story.