Charles Scones has not visited Thomas Point Lighthouse in years, but his memory must be pretty good. The retired auto mechanic's seven miniatures of the historic building, made from poster board, are exact replicas.
The 84-year-old Pasadena resident has built more than 300 miniatures of boats, churches, lighthouses and stores since renewing his old hobby three years ago.
"I just have a knack for proportions," said Scones, who does not follow a pattern. The retired auto mechanic simply looks at pictures, often from calendars or magazines, to create his structures.
In the 1930s, Scones built several model houses for his family's indoor Christmas garden. Back then, he used his memory, a couple shoe boxes, some glue and parakeet gravel to imitate stucco. Scones' tools are still simple: Elmer's glue, scissors, poster board, copper coil, a knife and acrylic paints.
He rarely uses wood.
One of Scones' boats, an authentic-looking oyster tonger, even has tongs placed on the deck. "I haven't had time to make the oysters yet," he said, grinning.
After Scones' wife died a few years ago, his daughters asked him to build the same type of houses as he did when they were young. By using Meals-On-Wheels trays as bases, Scones once again began creating.
Lighthouses became his specialty. Several of his lighthouses were displayed at Downs Park in Pasadena from May to September of this year.
Scones' nephew George Schmincke, a member of the state's Save the Lighthouse committee and a former state delegate from District 32, said he would like to see the models displayed for the committee.
Scones has reproduced many Chesapeake Bay lighthouses, including Bloody Point Bar and Seven Foot Knoll. His imitation of Cove Point, copied from a picture on a box containing his heart medication, is lighted with a candle lamp.
Schmincke has contributed to his uncle's creative talents by donating old political signs from his days as a legislature.
"The slate I used to run on didn't need many signs in general, so instead of recycling them, I gave him a pack," said Schmincke, who also gives Scones calendars, magazines and anything with pictures of lighthouses in them.
Two of his daughters, Anna Bohuslav and Doris Hynson, both of Pasadena, agree that their father's love of the bay got him started again. His father, they noted, was a waterman.
"His building is so fantastic. I know it keeps him active and healthy," said Meals-on-Wheel volunteer Helen Nicolosi, who visits Scones once a month and owns one of his model churches.
Building the models requires a lot of time and patience. "He has good, steady hands and he sometimes works more than eight hours a day," said Hynson.
"The one of Emma Giles took two weeks of work to complete," Scones said of his model of the fabled passenger boat that traveled between Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County in the early part of the century.
He said he does most of the work during the winter, "to avoid climbing the walls."
The two daughters receive most of their father's models. Both display in their indoor gardens everything Scones makes.
Bohuslav's garden, with its water-scene backdrop painted on the wall, contains more than 34 boats, including the Emma Giles. Her garden, placed on two 4 feet by 8 feet sheets of plywood, also has model houses and lighthouses.
Hynson's garden, placed on five 4-by-8 plywood sheets and two half-sheets, has moving people. A conveyor belt revolves plastic people from Santa's workshop to the inside of a bakery, both built by Scones.
Scones also constructed a village for Hynson's garden, which he based on California-style houses.
As a new addition to Hynson's garden, Scones is constructing a drag-racing scene which will include moving Matchbox cars placed on a conveyor belt. The racetrack includes a hot dog and hamburger stand and bleachers. The lettering on the stand, made of hard alphabet-soup noodles, is already glued in place.
"I'm even going to make hot dogs for the stands," said Scones. "He comes up with so many good ideas," said Hynson, adding she decorates her garden to make it as authentic as possible. That includes putting a "for rent" sign in front of a house she did not have time to decorate.
Hynson proudly displays her garden on Christmas Day. Last Christmas, she stayed up all night rearranging it. Children of family and friends come to see what changed from the year before.
"Three days before Christmas last year, I wanted a castle but I could not find one. So I asked Dad to make me one," she said.
Her father finished in time for Hynson to place the castle at the end of a Disney World reconstruction he had built in the garden. "I even found little guards at a flea market," she said.