Hilz display details Beulah’s history
By Chris Erickson
A small display in the front of J & M Hardware is currently giving passerby a look into Beulah’s past thanks to the patience of the display’s creator.
Helmuth “Doc” Hilz said he first started building the model houses with one for his wife, Helen.
“She’d always wanted a log house, and I knew we would never get one, so I made a minature log house,” Doc said. “Then from there I went to making the depot. I started out as them being birdhouses - the depot and the elevator, but they were too delicate to set outside.”
At that point he decided that he would begin making replicas of businesses like the hardware store that he’d started in 1955.
“There’s the jewelry store that John Hyttinen owned that I bought my first watch at after I got a job,” he said. “I bought the rings for our wedding there. So I made a replica of the building. My dad had a shoe shop, so I made that.”
Doc is able to complete about one building per winter. The detail has to be in fairly close proportion to the real thing - or a picture of it. Very precise work takes up some time, as does the glue used to make it set. Not to mention the memories that come up from reconstructing the buildings.
“The theater was the most fun making, we used to go to that twice a week,” he said. “We’d come in from the farm Saturday night and see a double Western. The lumber yard was fun to make, too.”