After growing up in Frederick, Md., Dan Freeman came back to his roots 15 years ago.
Freeman was born to Mary Helen (Waits) and Charles B. Freeman in 1947.
His father is deceased, and his mother died two months ago. She was 86.
Before Freeman’s second birthday, his father moved the family to Maryland.
“He didn’t want to work in the cotton mill or pick cotton,” said Freeman. “He said there’s got to be a better life.”
Freeman’s father was a pilot, but he started out in Maryland working in pulpwood. In a short time, he became manager of an airport.
“He spent out the rest of his time doing that, and he loved it,” said Freeman.
Freeman was 16, and his wife, Carolyn, was 14 when they met. They married two years later. He became a father at 18.
“That’s what we wanted to do,” he said. “We wanted to start our family early.”
To earn a living to his family, Freeman worked as an aircraft mechanic for a while. He had flown often with his father and had learned a lot about planes from him.
“When you work on them, you gotta fly them,” he said. “For some reason I got really afraid of heights. So I quit and got into construction.”
Working in construction, Freeman felt he had found his niche.
“Once I got there, I said, ‘Oh, Lord, this is where I’m supposed to be,” he said.
He and his sons built custom homes in the Washington, D. C. area, but couldn’t find anyone to do the quality of work inside the homes he wanted. Not wanting to settle for inferior work, he and his two sons began building cabinets and furniture for homes themselves.
Freeman is a master craftsman and has been self-employed since 1978.
His business, Old World Reproductions, is located at 114 S. Center Ave. He makes custom furniture, mainly for residents of the Washington, D.C. area.
“They’ll see something in a magazine they like, and they’ll send it to me,” he said. “I’ll make it and my wife and I deliver it to them. It’s all high end stuff. It all goes North. It gives us a chance to see our kids and grandkids. We get back up there about every three months.”
The Freemans own six stores on Main Street.
“We couldn’t do that up North,” he said. “I love this little town.”
They have three boys, one girl and seven grandchildren.
“We’re working on them, one at a time, trying to get them to move down here,” he said. “I think I’ve about got my daughter ready to move.”
Their granddaughter, Hannah Freeman, manages the Solid Rock Café.
Freeman works two days a week at Strickland Hardware.
“I’m as busy as I want to be,” he said. “You get to a point where you can pick and choose what you want to do.”
Freeman calls himself a hot rodder. This is the second year he and Carolyn have arranged to have a Hot Summer Night Cruise-In in Piedmont. It was held Friday night downtown.
“It’s a mimic of the days past when things were simpler, the streets were full and all the merchants were open,” he said. “We’re going to try to do this every year.”
Freeman was 14 when he bought his first car. He and five friends walked the roads picking up glass Coca-Cola bottles, mowed grass and saved their money to purchase their first hot rod.
“That was back in the day when you could just go pull something out of the junkyard and get it to running,” he said. “We went to the junkyard and bought a ’53 Plymouth for $50. We had a guy haul it home and fixed it up. We chopped off the top with an axe so we could have a convertible.”
Freeman said he’d never had as much fun, and it was an experience he’ll never forget.
“That was back in a different time and a different day when you could do stuff like that,” he said. “Man, we had a good time.”
(Contact Margaret at email@example.com)