The extraordinary nature of the wood shop at the Ozark Folk Center shows long before you get to the door. The little garden to the side hides carved bears and wood sprites amid the lush vegetables. Petunias drape out over the carved dogwood flowers on the cedar window box. The warm red paint is accented by cheery blue-checked café style curtains. The round sign next to the door holds carved toys and dangles a carved spirit face. The wooden banner across the sign proclaims “Wood Shop.”

 “Howdy Folks,” booms the big voice as you push open the door. Bubba sits behind the counter in his trademark bib overalls. “C’mon in.”

 Once you are in the shop, Bubba will keep you entertained. He has a tourist test to guess where ya’ll are from. He’ll carve your portrait in a toothpick. You can sign his counter or guess what color the tops are when they start to spin. There is a small box full of peppermints on the counter for you to help yourself to a treat. The wood shop is always one of the busiest and happiest shops at the Folk Center.

 Once you start looking around the shop, you’ll find lots of Bubba-style fun. There are roll-X’es, wooden X’s with wheels for the fashionable set. They sit next to keychain lights, a match box on a key chain – for those with a more practical disposition. Displayed in and around the entertainment are carved wood works of art. Cedar bird houses with flowers and designs hang over mantle pieces with log cabin scenes. A small Christmas tree displays ornate Santas carved from antique wooden thread spools.

 Bill Standard, the man behind the character of Bubba, retired from business in Alaska about eight years ago and moved down to Mountain View with his wife, Melody Miller, to be with her parents. Melody’s family has been in Stone County since the 1830’s.

“Pop brought me to Mountain View,” said Bill. “He was getting up there.”

 Bill has always been artistic and has always loved working with wood. “I carved Donald Duck and Pluto on the stock of my twenty-two (caliber rifle) when I was about 8-years-old,” said Bill, remembering. “I’ve spent most of my life working with wood.”

 Switching back from Bill to Bubba, he adds, “I like wood carving because you can bleed on it and it doesn’t ruin it.”

 In Alaska, Bill built log cabins, including a couple of his own. He has many fond memories of those cabins and shares stories that include one of a snowy owl raising her babies in the loft of his cabin.  He has other experience with wood, too.  “It takes about 5 cords of wood to make it through the winter in Alaska,” said Bill, talking about heating his cabin. “That’s lots of splitting.”

 The Folk Center was a natural connection for Bill, because Melody’s family has worked there for three generations. Her father worked in accounting, her mother, Miz Bette Rae, has worn many hats at the Center, She currently works in the General Store, and Pop, her grandfather, split shingles and worked in the School House.

 Bill apprenticed with wood carver Keith Bowman and began working in the wood shop shortly after they moved to Mountain View. He did a little bit of moving around in the craft houses, but the wood shop is truly Bubba’s home. “It amazes me the talents and skills here at the Folk Center,” said Bill. “My favorite thing is the people – and the donkeys,” he adds as an afterthought, handing me a few peppermints to take to Whiskey and Tango.

 Visit Bubba in the wood shop at the Ozark Folk Center Wednesday through Saturday from 10 to 5 from now until October 1. From October 1 through November 1, the Center will be open Tuesday – Sunday. Admission to the craft village is $10.00 for adults and $6.00 for children. From November 6 through December 14 the craft village will be open on a limited basis Thursday – Saturday as modern working craft studios with no entry fee to visitors. Call 870-269-3851 for more information.