...Closet Door Where It All Started by Ray Olszewski published in the Goebel Miniatures Newsletter Volume 2, Number 2 Spring/Summer 1988
During the years Bob attended college at Indiana University, Indiana, pennsylvania, he worked during the summer months. During the first year, he worked for the PUllman Standard Corporation in Butler, PA. Bob was responsible for hooking up hopper cars to be welded. Pullman Standard produced (at the time) railroad cars such as sleepers, tank cars, flatbeds, etc. Our stepfather, John Simonoff, also worked for Pullman as a welder before he passed away in 1984.
During the rest of his college summers, Bob was employed by Allegheny Ludlum Steel in Brackenridge, PA. As a yard clerk, Bob worked shift work and was responsible for supplying the furnaces with scrap iron that made steel. The company liked Bob and kept hiring him back. Later he became a bookkeeper, responsible for keeping rack of all the scrap metal processed in the main yard. (Now we understand where he received the training to keep his meticulously maintained notebook.) Bob was so good at his job that he was promoted over four others. Bob gained skills to manage large projects and learned how to efficiently maximize resources to achieve the most production.
It was these attributes as well as his artistic talents that captured the Goebel representatives when they first met him at his home in 1979. They were very impressed with the amount of figurines that Bob produced in his tiny closet shown here again.
Bob, even today (then), at Goebel Miniatures Studio where he oversees art production, uses some of those skills he developed during those earlier years working for Pullman and Allegheny. Bob manages (managed) nearly 35 ongoing projects at the studio-a far cry from those pre-Goebel days in his closer.
The picture is the closet door where it all started. One can say that the Germans literally brought Bob out of the closet. It is full of Bob's clothes now, but then in 1978/1979 it was full of books, brushes, paints, carving tools, miniature figurines and waxes.
During some of Bob's earlier presentations to his collectors, he tells the story about that day in the spring of 1979 when the German representatives from the Goebel Company visited him. You've missed something funny if you haven't heard Bob tell it. The Germans arrived at his home in Camarillo, California that morning. Bob greeted them and took them to the kitchen where they had coffee and talked about Bob's background.
After they had finished their discussions and coffee, the representatives asked Bob to take them to "his factory." Well, Bob got up from the kitchen table and walked them down the hallway of his home to his master bedroom. Can you imagine what the Germans were thinking at this time? They are expecting to see a factory and Bob is taking them to his bedroom! Bob led them to the closet and told them that this was his factory. Bob further explained the layout of "his factory" by pointing out his Research and Development Department on the upper shelf. He continued to show them his Carving Department and Painting Department, which were areas on the top of a small desk that he stuffed into the closet. He then told them while leaning over and opening a bottom drawer, "last but not least, this is our Shipping Department."
One of the earlier figurines Bob produced "in the closet" was Farmyard Hero, also known as Barnyard Hero. This was the fifth pre-Goebel figurine Bob produced. It was the second Hummel reproduction he did before joining Goebel. Farmyard Hero is tiny measuring only 9/16 of an inch high. It is painted in the traditional colors of the Hummel figurines. Bob produced approximately 418 of these and sold them in 1979 for a price of $30.00 each. 418 is the second highest number of pre-Goebel figurines he produced during the pre-Goebel days (Rainy Weather was the highest number he actually produced at 440). Bob used the Hummel figurine Farmyard Hero to produce Barnyard Hero. In comparison to its four predecessors, it is well-constructed and shaped, has excellent overall detail and the painting is nearly exact to the Hummel figurine. A long way in a short time, from carving his first wax with a screwdriver. When examining the figurine and comparing it to the others before it, that Barnyard Hero was when Bob was able to put all of his previous experimentation together into a delicate and most exact reproduction.