SOCIABILITY, HUMOR AND IMAGINATION

Three words may be used to describe Abe’s personality – sociable, humorous and imaginative.

Sociability

Abe loved being around people.  He made friends easily and stayed with the closest of them for decades.  His parents were quiet, law-abiding people who associated with their fellow immigrants from Armenia.  Abe had only one younger sister.  After she died before her first birthday Abe began his life-long reaching out to people beyond his family.  By the time he entered the service in 1942, he had honed his friendly, outgoing nature, which may have influenced his military superiors in making him ship’s cook.  Maybe he had told them he had learned cooking from his mother.

While in the service Abe nurtured a good working relationship in the ship’s galley with his steward, Frank Pegram, the only Black among the crew.

Ship’s Cook, Abe, lower right, arm-in- with steward Frank Pegram, LCI (Landing Craft Infantry), Mindoro, Philippines, February 3, 1945

Abe was popular with other crewmates too, as seen in the photo taken while his ship was docked in Shanghai.

Abe, third from left, with shipmates in Shanghai, China, November 1, 1945

Following the war, Abe settled into his job as machinist at General Electric Aircraft Division in Lynn, MA. He married Jenny Babigian in 1951.  He was particularly close to his father, Jacob, and had a very friendly relationship with his father-in-law Dikran, who lived in Lynn.  Abe often helped Dikran by doing handiwork in the basement and garage at Dikran’s house.

Abe with father, Jacob (left) and father-in-law, Dikran (right), Father’s Day, 1953

At GE Abe was very well known and liked.  Fellow workers who had known him have said that he we the one who always asked his co-workers how they were doing when they or their family members had health issues.  At Christmas time Abe would bring in Armenian cognac to toast the holidays and bring in the New Year.  Maybe his action wasn’t exactly condoned, but with his sparkling personality, Abe’s higher ups looked the other way, especially when he offered them some.  Times have changed and are stricter now.

Abe with fellow machinists at G.E., 1960

Church was a very big part of Abe and Jenny’s lives.  They held numerous official positions, but always enjoyed the social interactions.

Abe (left) cutting lamb into kebabs with fellow church members for the annual food bazaar

Jenny (left) onions with fellow church members for the annual food bazaar

Abe and Jenny’s closest friends were 5 other couples, also Armenians, from church.  They loved entertaining and often hosted the tight group at their home.

Abe (center, waving) and his wife Jenny (left)

Abe so liked his group of friends that he made a special stand to house sword toothpicks for when the friends came over to his house for parties.  There were 12 swords, one per person.  Abe crafted the sword hilts so that each was unique and each guest could know whose was whose.

Toothpick Stand with Swords, closed position

Toothpick Stand with Swords, open position

Humor and Imagination

Abe’s humor spanned a wide range.  He was willing to make fun of himself, or be laugh-out-loud funny, as when he and Jenny won first prize in comedic category at the church masquerade party.

Abe and his wife jenny

Abe (far left) and his wife Jenny (far right)

Abe also displayed subtle humor, as when he made for his son Robert a solid metal tractor / trailer when Robert was only months old.

Abe in his home workshop, 1953

Abe’s joie de vivre was clearly apparent in this photo of him at work in the 1970s.

Abe at work

Beginning in the 1950s Abe used his machining skills to create his interpretations of everyday objects.  Ingeniously he repurposed scrap metal at the factory into rough representations of animals, gag items, household items, industrial items, jewelry, toys, and items of anatomy.  As cleaver as his items were, his main intent was to give his art away as gifts.  Each family member received a small, weighty, wrapped metal present for every holiday, birthday or special occasion, like graduation.

Animals:

Abe’s animals were a pleasure to receive.  The Animals with Clothes Pin Heads were meant to hold notes in their mouths in the pre-sticky-notes era.

Animals with Clothes Pin Heads, 1970,1976

Abe made his Frog Key Holder from two solid pieces of aluminum.  He placed a hinge at the rear.  Open the frog and in the hollowed out belly you can place your house key inside.  Place the frog in a discrete place outside your house.  Voila, a hidden spare.  That’s exactly what Abe’s daughter did.  Abe loved that she used it as intended.

Frog Key Holder

Abe’s solid copper Mouse and Cheese has been a kid favorite since Abe made it in 1980.  He loved that the thumb-size mouse was so popular.

Mouse and Cheese, 1974

Look closely and Abe’s golf ball size Turtle will smile back at you.

Turtle, 1979

Gag Item:

How Abe obtained or the got the Crane’s Ball home we’ll never know.  What we do know is that when Abe’s daughter June had her engagement shower Abe used the ball as a gag.  June liked and still likes the color purple so Abe added a chain and painted the ball and chain a color he had once used in the basement of the house.  June’s fiancé, John, was to be the only male at the shower, so to insure that he remain there, Abe arranged to have the chain shackled around John’s ankle.  With the 42 pound attachment John was not about to go anywhere for a while.

Abe’s son-in-law John with Crane’s Ball with Chain

Household Items:

With 2 little plastic babies inside wrapped in a blanket crocheted by Abe’s Mom Mary, the Baby Carriage is a charmer.  The hood swivels and the carriage sits on springs.  Abe covered the handle with plastic tubing for a cushy grip.

Baby Carriage with 2 Dolls, 1969

Abe’s extra large round handle with the real key actually opened the back door.  Abe engraved “The Key to Happiness” into the aluminum and drilled a hole opposite the key for hanging.

“Key to Happiness”, 1974

Abe actually tried to smoke his Pipe but found it got too hot.  He had been a cigarette, and later, pipe smoker.

Smoking Pipe with Stand

Abe painted the sole of his playful Sneaker with red fingernail polish.

Sneaker, 1979

Abe’s attention to detail is obvious in his 3” tall Vacuum Cleaner, but his sense of humor shines through with the pencil eraser-sized plug and the even smaller red dot at the lower front corner, emblematic of Hoover vacuum cleaners of Abe’s era and of today.

Vacuum Cleaner, 1971

Industrial Items:

Abe rarely made sketches before creating his art.  His sketch on the back of a 1980s computer data punch card of his Forklift Truck was an exception.

Sketch for Forklift Truck with Block

With its stained and scratched solid copper body, Abe’s Forklift Truck with Block looks as rugged as an actual forklift.  The pinky finger size accelerator pedal adds a humorous touch.

Forklift with Block, 1982

With its stained and scratched solid copper body, Abe’s Forklift Truck with Block looks as rugged as an actual forklift.  The pinky finger size accelerator pedal adds a humorous touch.

Trash Barrel with Lid

Jewelry:

As a gardener Abe was fascinated by butterflies, and incorporated one into his aluminum Butterfly Pendant.

Butterfly Pendant

Abe was not a jeweler but looking at his Woman’s Ring with a Blue Marble Cut in Half, one wouldn’t know it.  The colorful, stainless steel ring is as contemporary today as it was 40 years ago when he created it.

Woman’s Ring, Marble Cut in Half

Toys and Games:

It’s impossible to say which category of his art gave Abe the greatest pleasure to create.  What can be said for certain is that making toys and games was high on Abe’s list of fun things to make.  He really loved kids, playing with them, and protecting them.  Of his art pieces he said, “As long as the kids like them, then I’m happy.”  He wasn’t particularly good at sports and didn’t play many games, but liked the vicarious experience of play when seeing the joy his toys and games the recipients got from his toys.

Abe made his Skateboard to work, complete with ball bearing aluminum wheels, and stylized grooved copper for the top of the main body.

Skateboard, 1978

For his Tic Tac Toe Set Abe made all the brass tokens just large enough to be pinched between index finger and thumb.  They’re in the shape of an upside down T.  He partially drilled holes into the round base.  Into those holes the flanged tokens would fit comfortably but not tightly.  For the X pieces Abe notched the flanges to differentiate them from the O pieces.  He made several extra Os and Xs.  Along the top edge of the round base Abe chamfered a delicate quadruple groove.  A delicate game that Abe’s kids played with a great deal…

Tic Tac Toe Set, 1981

Abe and Jenny gave their son Robert for his fourth Christmas a metal, rideable toy tractor tricycle with “chain drive.”  After Robert wore down the trike, Abe cannibalized the toy, repurposing its engine shield to serve as a safety protector for the table band saw he made to cut planks in curved shapes.

Abe’s Son Robert with chain drive tractor, Christmas, 1956

In 1980 Abe returned to the subject of a tricycle, making a fist size rendition in brass, with pedals that rotate the front wheel, rear wheels that turn, and a pencil eraser-sized rubber bulb horn.  Photographer Scott Sutherland, whose exquisite photos comprise this web page, has said that the tricycle was among his favorites of Abe’s pieces.

Tricycle, 1980

Weighing nearly 2 pounds, Abe’s solid copper Yoyo with copper wire and finger loop is a tour-de-force of wit, but just a bit too heavy to actually use.

YoYo, 1978

Items of Anatomy:

Abe only made 3 pieces of items of human anatomy.  All 3 are approximately life size, though who is to say what life size is for humans?  It can only be said that Abe crafted these pieces to get a laugh.  He made a point to show these pieces to guests who came to his home in the mid 1970s.  Often the showings were preceded by adult beverages.  The guests were embarrassed when Abe asked them to hold the pieces.  Needless to say, these objects were the focus of much innuendo.  A mostly conservative bunch by nature, these people were amused and somewhat taken aback by Abe’s daring.  Only the Denture has been displayed.  Perhaps it’s time for the others.

Denture, 1975

Breast 38C

Penis

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