• Marci Shadd

Ben Fowler - Artist

Updated: Oct 13, 2019

Sometimes as life passes, we forget the influence that our little community has on people. Whether passing through for only a few years or for a lifetime, each of us have been given little blessings that stay with us throughout our lives. I've asked a series of people that have spent time within our community to tell us their stories. Where they began, and where they are today. It's been fun reading about each of their journeys and I'm excited to share them with you.

The first of these guest bloggers is Ben Fowler, artist and home town boy. His hobby of creating gorgeous wood, resin & metal products has flourished into a business that has him shipping all over the world. Ben has created a series of pens using the wood from the check in desk at the hotel and I'm excited to have these available to sell at some point. You can also buy them direct from him using the contact information at the bottom of this post. Enjoy! --Marci

My life in Biggs, where to start … I like to think of myself as a ‘homegrown’ ... I was born in Chico in 1980, and was raised in Biggs at Fifth & Bannock. When I wasn’t at home, I was at the fire station where my dad worked. My mom worked at the Elementary School, and I spent my days riding around on my bike, exploring the entire town and then some. My favorite spot, which sadly is no longer there, was a little concrete bridge at the far end of 2nd Street. It was there that my best friend and I would sit in the summer heat surrounded by mosquitoes and croaking frogs, and winter rain, as we talked about all things critical in our small town life at the age of 12.

To this day what reminds me of home most, is the long blare of a freight train horn. I lived just a few blocks from the tracks, where I could still feel the low rumble of passing trains by leaning against the wall. I’d ride my bicycle through downtown, past the shambled (at the time) Hotel Colonia, and wait with anticipation while the glimmer of a train headlight bore towards town.

As high school graduation loomed, I decided it was time to get away from the summer heat and explore life on my own. I relocated in the fall of 1998 to Cal State Monterey Bay, and normally this might be where ‘the rest is history’ but I had no idea how much my life would be changed within 2 years. In March of 2000 I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and would spend the next 18 months riding the roller coaster of cancer treatment, remission, and relapse. Finally, in August of 2001 I underwent a procedure at Stanford Medical Center, and to make a long story short, here I almost 18 years later. In the months leading up to the procedure, my mom and I were making frequent trips up to the clinic. Word spread quickly, as it always does in a small town, and I was surprised to find out some of our friends and my elementary school teachers had arranged a benefit spaghetti dinner and silent auction in my honor. The event was amazing, even a goat was donated for the auction. It provided for many of our needs during a very challenging time, and seeing the town come together to help out and support us was as life-changing as the diagnosis itself. Humbling is an understatement. If you’re reading this and had any part in that event, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Growing up in a small town, you learn a lot about character. Today I work as a civilian in the city jail and front office for a police department in the Monterey Bay. I’ve been there for almost 17 years, and one thing I love about my agency is the small town feel it has. We support each other like a family. They’ve been there for me through thick and thin, just like my hometown. Having character and integrity can make or break someone that works in the public safety sector, and just like in a small town, word travels fast, and your reputation is there for the long haul.

Presently I live in Salinas with my wife Kari, and two stepdaughters, Analise and Angela, the 3 delights of my life. About 4 years ago, my dad started sending us these fancy pens and bottle stoppers for presents. My curiosity was spurred and I started watching videos and reading about the world of wood turning. What started as ‘this could be fun’ blossomed almost immediately into an outright addiction. I now make and sell pens, pencils, and lots of other crafts. I decided to name my shop “Ben’s Fine Writing,” a tongue-in-cheek nod to my southpaw scribble handwriting. My hobby has blossomed into an online shop, word-of-mouth sales, a worldwide network of friends, and now I’m even guest-writing a blog!

When I found out a couple of years ago about Marci’s plans for the Hotel Colonia, aka the Colonia Building, I was immediately excited, and when the concept of incorporating a piece of the Hotel into my pieces, well, ecstatic doesn’t quite cover it! I’d spent many years passing the building, peeping in the windows, and imagining all the stories it could tell. Having had the opportunity to tour the whole building, I’ve experienced her enthusiasm for this labor of love first hand, and I can hardly wait to see what comes next!

My works can be found on Facebook @BensFineWriting and online at www.bensfinewriting.com. I love personalizing my work, so while you won’t find a lot of premade inventory, you’ll find examples of my one of a kind works, and all the info you need to contact me to order something uniquely you!

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