Kent Koepfer has lived in Bedford Township for 34 years, but every holiday season he shows that his hometown of Sylvania remains near and dear to his heart.
For 11 years, he has set up his "Snow Village" of wintry scenes inspired by his childhood memories, circa 1960, of Sylvania, where he grew up on Main Street and graduated from Northview High School.
Mr. Koepfer has collected dozens of ceramic figurines that, although not replicas of Sylvania buildings, are arranged to represent the structures he knew when he was young. The result is a wintry holiday tableau that for him is suffused with memories of Sylvania.
"It brings back a lot," he said.
There's a church, intended to represent St. Joseph Parish, where he and his wife, Marilyn, were married almost 37 years ago, and a miniature Ace Hardware that stands for his father's business, Koepfer Hardware, which was on Main and closed in 1964.
There's a butcher shop standing in for the establishment that was two doors down from his father's hardware, and a pharmacy to represent the former Lindau's drug store.
Mr. Koepfer's hot dog shop with the guy behind the counter in a chef's hat was inspired by the Don's Drive-in that was on the south side of Monroe Street between Main and I-475.
Mr. Koepfer, 59, said he started modestly, picking up a few figurines here and there. Over the years, his pastime grew to fill his living room and take a couple weeks to set up and take down. The living room furniture has been removed to the adjacent dining room.
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Mrs. Koepfer, who grew up in Bedford Township, doesn't muster the same enthusiasm for the Snow Village as her husband.
"I don't have the patience for it. I don't even know what we have anymore," she said, "but it keeps him busy."
She did acknowledge that she enjoyed looking at the Snow Village in the morning while drinking her coffee.
Both Koepfers are employed at the Kroger in Lambertville, he as a meat cutter and she as a manager. Mr. Koepfer said he learned to cut meat while working at Sautter's Five Star Market in Sylvania years ago.
And yes, Kroger is represented in the Snow Village, but Mr. Koepfer said the model brings to mind the store at its former location on Main, not at the current site on Monroe.
"That's where I'll always remember it," he said.
Contact Carl Ryan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6095.