When Bud Poincelot suffered his first "cluster headache" in the early 1980s, he said he'd never felt such intense pain.
The doctors couldn't figure out what was causing him such immense pain in his frontal lobe, but it became so severe he had to retire from his job.
With so much spare time, Poincelot said he had to get a hobby to busy himself and take his mind off the pain.
While on a fishing trip in Canada, he saw several builders put together a log cabin within a week and was inspired by their craftsmanship. To remember the trip, Poincelot picked up a piece of ash and whittled it into long cylinders to make his own miniature log cabin.
The end result looked nearly identical to the place he had stayed in.To take the project one step further, Poincelot converted the small structure into a lamp, which he later gave to his grandson.
What years ago started out as an homage to a favorite vacation spot has transformed into an annual tradition for Poincelot, which has led to him re-creating miniature versions of some of the more iconic buildings in the Berkshires -- all fashioned from "found objects." They range from The Capitol Theater (now the Froio Senior Center) on North Street in Pittsfield to the Colonial Theatre on South Street.
"It started out as a sort of therapy," said Poincelot, who has spent nearly his entire life in Pittsfield. "But now, it's something I look forward to every year.
During the first few years of his project, it wasn't unheard of for him to crank out three or four replicas, his wife, Wendy, said.
With more than 40 different re-creations, it takes Poincelot roughly three days each fall to set up and display what has now become a tiny town taking up three long shelves in his living room. The entire display has a Christmastime theme with lights, snow and other holiday decorations adorning the display.
Made from scraps of metal, wood, roofing shingles, bricks, wire, fiberglass, rocks and whatever else he can find, Poincelot spends several weeks between September and October photographing and researching each location. Then he retires to his basement for hours at a time, watching his favorite baseball team (the Yankees), while building walls, windows and landscaping to match each place exactly.
"I just pick stuff up that I think will work wherever I go," he said.
Some buildings were chosen for their historical significance, others, like the replicas from Norman Rockwell's painting "Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas" were selected for their cultural popularity. Others were picked for personal reasons.
This year, Poincelot built a miniature of Scago's Coin-Op Laundromat in honor of his friend Frank Scago, who died earlier this year.
"He was a great man and I thought this was a good way to honor him," Poincelot said of his golfing partner.
Poincelot says he gets a great satisfaction out of putting together each replica, but his real joy comes from sharing his newest re-creation with his friends.
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