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Carving comrades

Harlan Englund making a wood bowl at his shop in Evansville.

The name of Harlan Englund's shop, "He Me We," seems fitting. Because the dusty woodcarver's haven in Evansville isn't just a place - it's people. And friendships. And camaraderie.

But it certainly isn't about making a profit.

"It's a non-profit organization, I guarantee you," Englund said with a grin. "A bunch of baloney goes on here. There might be five or 10 guys here having coffee and talking politics."

He Me We started when Harlan (He) and his brothers, Merlin and Wendell (Me and We), decided to take their wood puttering and move into a shop.

"We started making birdhouses and different things like that there," said Englund, a lifelong resident of Evansville, who admits he "talks funny."

A modest man of few words, Englund isn't much for drawing attention to himself. But he's also quick with a joke, many times at his own expense.

"I go 'up nort,' " he said, referring to his unique speech. "People tease me about that. They think that's funny."

The Englund brothers, all in the construction business, needed something to do in the winter to scratch their creative itch, and satisfy their love of making things out of wood. So they bought a building in downtown Evansville and got to work. Sort of.

"It's just a BS shop, that's what it is," Englund said, glancing around at the piles of wood scraps, birdhouses and wooden rocking chairs. "There's not set hours or anything. It's a fun place, that's what it is."

With one brother passed away and the other not as loyal a visitor, now it's mostly Englund and his cronies hanging out at the shop.

Despite the conversations, Englund does manage to get some work done. His workshop is filled with many finished projects, including birdhouses, fish and duck decoys, butterfly houses, bowls and picture frames. He's also made gun cabinets, benches and about anything else that catches his fancy.

"See them there rocking chairs?" he asked, pointing to his latest project. "My preacher friend brought one in to fix. I made a pattern and pretty soon it was 20 of them. It got to be pretty near too much."

"He likes a challenge," said his proud wife, Marlys. "He'll see something and he'll try it."

Between carving and chatting, Englund estimates he spends about six hours a day at He Me We. The thought of not having his shop to come to every day isn't a pleasant one - for anybody.

"I would miss it very much, so would a lot of other guys," he mused. "I would die."

"Yeah, so would I," Marlys teased, as they both laughed.

"Yep, you meet a lot of people that come in," he said with an emphatic nod of his head. "It's the people I like. It's the friendships that are made."

As far as Englund is concerned, his workshop carves up more than wood. To him, He Me We is really an "us."