AuSABLE FORKS — Lawrence “Larry” Post’s heart was always in the Adirondacks.
His father, Sterling Sr., brought Larry and his brothers, Sterling Jr. and Randy, here to fly fish, mountain climb and camp in the winter. Every weekend and all vacations, the Posts were somewhere in the Adirondacks.
Raised in Latham, Larry longed to move to the “Forever Wild” landscape.
“He pulled up stakes,” said Joann, his wife. “I came up, of course.”
They grew up two miles from each other. They started dating when she was 14, and he was 17.
After graduating from Shaker High School, he became an over-the-road truck driver. Joann majored in nursing at Maria College in Albany.
Larry relocated to the Adirondacks in 1978, and she followed two years later.
Based in Keeseville, Joann joined him on the truck. They saw the country a spell before she began a 22-year nursing career at CVPH Medical Center.
Blessed to their union were two children — Ryan, 28, and Jillian, 24 — both graduates of AuSable Valley Central School.
When he put his 18-wheeler days behind him, Larry worked at Georgia-Pacific, but his avocation was cabinet maker.
No matter what job he held, he was never fulfilled. In his spare time, he made and sold antique reproductions.
Portraiture was Joann’s forte, but she chose a career in nursing for employment stability.
Nine years ago, a twist in their lives changed everything and birthed L. Post Rustics in AuSable Forks.
“Larry had a skiing accident and wound up with a traumatic brain injury,” Joann said. “He had a subdural hematoma and nearly died. He had partial paralysis and extensive memory loss. He would ask the same questions over and over. It was like living with someone with Alzheimer’s. He had debilitating headaches.”
Despite the hand that fate dealt him, Larry was determined to be a productive person. With his memory loss, he had forgotten his artisan skills. He went to his workshop, stood contemplating his tools, knowing he once knew how to use them.
Slowly, he relearned his cabinet-making skills. Following a how-to book, he built an Adirondack guideboat. Ryan assisted him.
The father-son duo built four more guideboats. Larry drove the boats to Keene Valley to sell to a potential buyer who didn’t show. Serendipity struck in the form of well-known rustic-furniture maker George Jaques, who flagged Larry down as he was leaving.
Jaques told Larry he could sell the boats. Jaques also told him, “If you can make anything this beautiful, you can build casework for my furniture.”
Larry entered the realm of rustic furniture. When Jaques retired, he had a big auction and encouraged Larry to make a few pieces. They sold, giving Larry cache in a niche market. Joann seized the opportunity as a way to advance her deferred artistic dreams and build a business.
In 2009, L. Post Rustics entered the 22nd-annual Adirondack Museum’s Rustic Furniture Fair, a juried exhibition at Blue Mountain Lake. Larry and Joann won the People’s Choice Award, which put them on the rustic map.
“After that, the floodgates opened,” Joann said. “We were getting busy like crazy. We had so much work.”
Jillian was off in Indiana working as a seasonal botanist for the National Park Service. An environmental-science major and art minor, she graduated from Plattsburgh State in 2008.
Her parents made her an offer she couldn’t refuse, and she relocated back home last October. A gifted artist like her mother, Jillian carves every day in the workshop.
Though Ryan studied information technology at Clinton Community College and trained in the hospitality industry, he always helped out in the shop and learned under his father’s guidance.
The business’s workload was forcing his parents to hire someone. Ryan capitulated and joined the family enterprise, where he builds and interprets designs with his father.
Joann and Jillian design and create the artwork — oil paintings, carvings, bark veneers mosaic-stick work and faux bois — for their one-of-a-kind commissioned furniture that is destined to become heirlooms in homes, lodges and camps in North America.
Recently at the Adirondack Museum’s Rustic Furniture Fair, L. Post Rustics hooked the Maker’s Choice Award, which was voted on by their peers.
“It’s quite an honor,” Larry said.
The rustic-art furniture created by L. Post Rustics is available at Lake Placid Lodge and Gallery and the Cornerstone Rustic & Craft Gallery in Lake Placid.
On a recent Wednesday, Ryan’s daughter, Ardyn, stacked blocks on the workshop floor.
“We put Ardyn on last week,” Joann said. “She turned 2. She needs to pull her own weight, all 27 pounds.”
Email Robin Caudell: email@example.com
TO LEARN MORE
L. Post Rustics can be reached at 647-5114 or by visiting www.lpostrustics.com.