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Francis John "Frank" Moshinskie
Birth: Dec. 9, 1915
Bethlehem
Lehigh County
Pennsylvania, USA
Death: Jan. 23, 1999
Hot Springs
Garland County
Arkansas, USA

OBITUARY
Read his autobiography which follows this obituary:

Francis (Frank) John Moshinskie, of Hot Springs, Arkansas, age 83, one month and 14 days, passed away on Saturday morning, January 23, 1999 in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

He was born in Bethlehem, Pa. to John and Anna (Albect) Mroshinskie. During WWII he served in the Army and was stationed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he met his future wife, Louise Phillips Moshinskie of Simsboro, La. She preceded him in death on January 21, 1998. She was born in Simsboro on May 4, 1918 and is buried in the Simsboro City Cemetery next to her husband.

Mr. Moshinskie was founder and builder of Tiny Town USA in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and was later assisted by his wife, Louise, and sons, Jim and Charles. He delighted in giving personal tours of the animated miniature village and describing how he made the scenes, many of which include figures that he woodcarved himself into lifelike animations. He especially liked to talk to children about using their hands to make things, and many school children made class trips to Tiny Town from around the state.

He is survived by two sons, Dr. Jim Moshinskie, a professor at Baylor University, Waco, Texas, (james_moshinskie@baylor.edu), and Charles Moshinskie, a retired teacher in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and his wife, Barbara Bentley Moshinskie (who now runs Tiny Town), and a granddaughter, Laura (who married Robert Smith in Hot Springs in 2005); two sisters, Helen Mroshinskie and Veronica Mueller, both of Bethlehem, and a brother, Jack Mroshinskie of Bethlehem.

He was a lifelong devout Roman Catholic. He loved his wife and two sons, and was an excellent and kind, quiet, loving husband and father who was solely devoted to his family.

Funeral mass was held in Hot Springs, and burial was in Simsboro Cemetery by the Owens Funeral Home of Ruston, Arkansas, who gave excellent, personal service to our family.
-----------------------------------------------------

AUTOBIOGRPHY

I am Francis John Moshinskie. I was born in Bethlehem, Pa., a beautiful city named after the holy city of Old Bethlehem by Hans Christoher and his fellow Maravians. They founded the city on Christmas Eve on the banks of the Lehigh River.

The Maravians brought to Bethlehem a great custom at Christmas time of building a miniature Christmas Putz around the Christmas trees in their church and in their homes. Each family would attempt to out do the other in preparing a Putz that would depict the birth of the Christ child. The word Putz is of Angelo- Saxon origin and means "to decorate." Each family would make a little miniature village around the bottom of the tree, and as the tradition grew, each family would devise all kinds of
things to add to this annual exhibit. Towns, mountains, model trains, and street lights were even added to these Putz scenes. My family was one of these families which would build a Putz at Christmas. We would go to each other's home at Christmastime to see what the other families would make.

As kids, my four sisters and I could hardly wait for Christmas to come because we loved to play with the Putz until we would mess it up and it would be time to take it down for next year. These Putz exhibits instilled a desire for me to create pretty things in miniature.

WORKING WITH MY HANDS

My father, John Moshinskie, had a plumbing business in Bethlehem and I had an advantage over most people because he had everything available for me to work with.

I also watched my father work, and he taught me many skills early in my life in working with my hands. Soon I found out the great talents God gave me to go through life with for others to enjoy. Soon I found out the great talents God gave me to go through life with for others to enjoy.

In the first grade, the teacher brought a beautiful silk plaque of Wild Buffalo Bill Cody and told us that the one who would draw the best holly to hang on our Christmas tree would receive the plaque. Mine came out the best and I received my first reward for the use of my hands.


Since I always liked to make things, my father would get me an Erector set for Christmas. Each year I would get a little larger one. It was always very educational in helping me to learn how to construct things, but this made me very upset because every time you wanted to make
something else you had to buy more Erector supplies or tear down the model you had just worked hard to complete.
So these limitations ended the Erector set for me. Instead, I started collecting miscellaneous scraps of things and my father gave me a place in the basement to work -- that started my building career.

My father's plumbing business was located garage in the back yard of our Bethlehem home so I could easily borrow his tools and whatever was available to make my projects.

TRAITS FROM FAMILY

During this time of my growing up, my grandmother died so my grandfather, who had settled in America from Poland, came to live with us. He helped my father take care of the plumbing shop or piddled around with whatever he wanted to so I would watch him and learn from him. He was a retired machinist from the Bethlehem Steel Mills and there was
nothing he wouldn't make.

In those days plumbers did not have electric pipe machines, which my father needed to cut threads on large pipes. Therefore, my inventive grandfather made him one. I can still see him bringing things in sacks to make the pipe machine. He started building and it was not long before the electric pipe machine was complete -- and running nicely. He would also keep my father's trucks in repair and I would watch him and learn from him.

When school was out for the summer months, I would eagerly watch granddad make things. When he wanted a cigar I would go to the store for him and he would give me a nickle -- thus I would make my appreciated spending money. Remember, a nickle went a long way in those day. He also gave me my first knife to start carving with, and this opened my lifelong interest in wood carving.

He also gave me my first knife to start carving with, and this opened my lifelong interest in wood carving. My father always told me how hard my grandfather had tried for years to make a perpetual motion machine when he was a boy. He never had any success with it, in fact, nobody
until this day has ever done it. He also made an invention of a shuttle to weave cloth in a weaving mill, but was told it got lost in the mail. In reality, they had cheated him out of it. So you see the creative genes through the years passed down to me from my grandfather.

SCHOOL PROJECTS

In the fifth grade, the teacher got all the boys to build a bird house and bring it to school. I spent some time on it and won the first prize. On the way home from school I would always stop and watch anybody who was working and see how they did things. My specialty was watching men fixing the trolly car tracks which seemed were always in
need of repairs.

Also on the way home from school my friend and I instead of going straight home would detour curiously through the back streets and rummage through things to see what we could get to use for our pet projects.

Every Christmas we would get a paint set and coloring book to pass our leisure time away, so this way we learned to draw and color. I caught the mumps and I was contagious so I could not go to school. My father bought me some puzzles to keep me busy. I worked hard with them and could find out how to do all of them until the night before I was
to go back to school. I was glad that I did for I never liked to give up on anything. So I went happily back to school the next day.

We always made our own toys from-things nobody wanted. Apple box crates, old tin cans were always plentiful. Old spools from mother's sewing machine were also available. We made our own kites to fly from the Sunday newspaper funny section and for a nickel we would could get
two wooden sticks from the lumber mill to make the kite form. When I was 13 years old, they were making a school children's museum in Philadelphia and they were looking for student projects they could exhibit.

My teacher got me to glue matches together to make a coal mine colier, an airplane, and a frying pan out of matches. I spend about a whole year gluing matches together to make all of these.


INVENTING THINGS

My mother had a problem with her iron as it would not stay on the stand. Up to the plumbing shop I went and figured out a little invention to hold the iron -- so my mother was very pleased.

In the summer months when school was out, my father would take me along with him. A plumber always had to work in dark places in the basements and tight corners. It came in handy for him for somebody to hold the light for him to see better. This gave me a way to learn how to work it my hands and use tools even better. One day when going to
school, I found a long ribbon and I thought I had found something wonderful. So I stuffed it in my new coat pocket. When I got home from school I took it out of my pocket. To my dismay, I found out that my prize was an old typewriter ribbon and made my new coat all blue. My
mother had a fit when she found out about it.

BUILDING THE PUTZ

When I was thirteen years old, my father was too busy to install the traditional Christmas Putz so he told me I could. Mother said the Putz would put too much dirt in the living room so I should put it in the basement. This made me happy because no one would bother me there and I could have much more time to work on it. It took two months for me to create a very nice Putz, and I immediately started planning for next year's. Behind my dad's plumbing shop was a large crate box in which a piano had came in. My dad threw his scrap material there, and I raided it often for materials to build my projects.

My father showed me how to solder things together, especially how to melt the solder off the old lead joints that he would have to replace. That way the solder did not cost me anything. I would do my sothering on the kitchen table at night when the electric soldering unit was not in use in the shop. This skill was particularly useful in creating Tiny Town because tin cans were readily available. They could be cut up and soldered together to make buildings and other miniature things.

In my later years in school, I decided to take a business course which came in handy through my life. I learned how to typewrite and for a past time I learned how to make pictures on the typewriter by using all "x's" and using colored carbon paper that would make attractive pictures.

Just as I was graduating, the Depression hit the country. No work could be found anywhere. That meant I had dad's plumbing shop all to myself to work on my projects. Later when business again picked up, I served my apprenticeship to get my plumbing license.

A plumber gets to work in so many different places, and this I cherished because I would get to work in factories where I learned how to construct all kinds of mechanical works. Later these ideas would help me rig up the miniature displays you see in Tiny Town today.

Also factories had junk piles with all kinds of gadgets they would discard and I was able to get what I needed for my use in building miniature villages. My father showed me how to make mountains out of brown wrapping paper and mixing lamp black and linseed oil. When it dried you crumbled it and the end results resemble mountains.

Each year I would keep working with my village until Hitler started the war and I was one of the first men to be drafted into service for four years and four months. Since I was a plumber, I was attached to the Ordnance to learn how to repair all kinds of guns and how to take care of ammunition areas for the Air Force.

I had a choice when our training was over to go to an air base in Seattle, Washington, or go to Baton Rouge, La. When time came to be shipped out, everyone wanted to go to Seattle and they did not have enough to go to Baton Rouge. I was one of the ones who did not get to go where I wanted -- but I did not know what God had in store for me there.

I was twenty-five years old when I was drafted in service. I had not found a companion to make my way through life. All my four sisters had dark hair and I was looking for a blonde haired girl. I always loved the name Louise. We always had a piano at home and my mother and sisters could play and we would sing all the popular songs of the times. So I was looking for a girlfriend who could play the piano too.

Upon arriving at Baton Rouge, all the servicemen there greeted us and told us we had come just in time. There was a big dance in town that night put on by the Louisiana Governor, and there would be a lot of girls to dance with.

I did not know much about dancing but soon learned how from a cute Louisiana blonde whose name was Louise (Phillips) and said she could play a piano. Well my dream came true. God put us together and from then on we worked together enjoying each other's company in all that we would do.

After we dated about three months, Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japan. The resulting war meant my outfit was sent to Ascension Island with the Air Force group. We were to service planes with bombs and ammunition. We were to patrol for submarines and defend the Island from attacks. We were on the island for two years and in that time I had a lot of time to write love letters to Louise, but when her birthday came, I had no where to buy a gift.

So I found some old crate wood and got out my pocketknife and started carving. I carved out a bust of General McArthur and a wooden letter opener with his head on it. I sent it to her for a gift that we still have displayed at Tiny Town.

After two years on the Island, I was sent back to Columbia, S.C. Air Force Base where we go married on November 18, 1944. She got a secretary job there for the remainder of the war.

After I was discharged from service we settled down in Baton Rouge where I was hired by Ethol Corporation as a shift foreman doing shift work. This I liked for when you do shift work you get a lot of time off which I was going to need so I could start work on a new miniature
village.

When I started building again, my wife did not know my talents I had for making things. As I started making new miniature things, she was very enthusiastic about it. She got a job teaching kindergarten so it all worked out together.

When at work I had charge of getting lead loaded into rail box cars to ship out, but first we had to clean them. You would find all sorts of things in them so I would pick out which I wanted and would ask my boss if I could take it home.

I also went to sheet metal yards in Baton Rouge where I could get all the scrap pieces I wanted.

Using this material and my imagination, I designed miniature pieces then animated and painted them. Oftentimes, my wife Louise would do the delicate painting.

Friends who knew of my building talents would bring all kinds of gadgets and motors when they came to visit us and see if I could use them. In those days you could get all the apple boxes which were made of very good sugar pine wood and was very easy to carve out and make into miniature figures.

In the fall of the year when foliage would dry out, I would go out and collect the kind of foliage I though I could make miniature trees and bushes out of it. I would spray paint them different colors to make them pretty.

WBRZ-TV featured a hobby show on in Baton Rouge one year and I displayed my work on it and the news media featured me and my exhibit in the newspaper.

Not long after that, I completed my anti mated, miniature park scene which I started to take it around to schools to show students how to work with their hands.

IDEAS FROM VACATIONS

Each year when I would get my vacation my family and I would travel around through the USA and would take pictures of different scenes and places and then work them up for my village to make it look like you are touring through the U.S.A. As you visit Tiny Town, you will notice many of these famous scenes (like Mount Rushmore) featured in our exhibit.

My original idea was to open up my miniature village when I retired for people to come visit, but my wife encouraged me to do it now instead of waiting. Together, we began to plan Tiny Town U.S.A. and started looking for a suitable building.

We found one on a major highway about 10 miles from Baton Rouge. It was in bad shape, but my wife, and our two sons, Jim and Charles, pitched in to get it ready. When repairs were finished, I designed a platform that would support everything.

The electric wiring was completed in different circuits to run motors, lights, and animated scenes. A couple of bushels of sawdust was dyed green to use as the grass. Frames were erected for mountains. The towns, streets, water-ways, railroads, shopping centers, parks,
wild west scenes, parks and farms were all designed in one quarter inch scale. Under the platform, pumps, motors, wires and belts were installed to move everything.

Oftentimes, I used bicycle wheels and belts I made from old tires. I was about to give upon it all because I could not find any material to make dependable belts to drive all the mechanical parts until nylon came out and then I learned how to use it to keep everything running in sync. Some people find the complicated works under Tiny Town to be more fascinating then the finished top scenes. That is why I believe that Tiny Town truly has something for everyone. We opened in the Spring of 1962, but we could not get enough people interested in seeing the exhibit there. We did not know what to do. I got down on my knees and prayed to God for guidance

A short time later, a strong thunderstorm with high winds came one evening and blew the roof off our Tiny Town building. My heart sank when I drove to the building that night and found it so badly damaged, but when we worked our way through the debris of the twisted roof which had been ripped off the building, we found that miraculously, nothing in Tiny Town was harmed. While the roof was gone, the ceiling was still there and it kept the rain off of Tiny Town.

My wife and I agreed God was telling us to move, and many people recommended we relocate to the popular tourist town of Hot Springs, Arkansas, where people went on vacations to relax and see unique things.

When we went to visit Hot Springs, and we found God had already selected a building for us near other tourists attractions. The building was located on Whittington Avenue right across from the Hot Springs National Park. It needed a few repairs, but otherwise was a perfect location for the new Tiny Town.

TINY TOWN MOVED

Tiny Town was carefully dismantled in Baton Rouge and shipped to Hot Springs, where it took six months to set it all up again in working order. God has been good to us since then, and we have enjoyed many years of success in Hot Springs. Thousands of people have toured Tiny Town, and we have made many friends from all over the United States.

Visitors from all states and from all parts of the world have came through Tiny Town. I have enjoyed seeing the faces of people of all ages as they light up and smile as Tiny Town comes alive with animated scenes, moving trains, farmers plowing, and firemen rocking.

As time went on through my life I found out that God does not give you everything at one time. As time went on through my life I found out that God does not give you everything at one time. He gives you a little at a time. When things do not get right, I pause, think it over, and wait until another day. As usual, you can depend on God guiding you on. I would wake up really early the next morning and found that God gives you a fresh mind to go through each day.

People keep asking me where I get the time to do all that I do, but I simply tell them I use scraps of time also and that comes in real handy. To conclude it all, you must have a good wife to help you with it all. I know I never would have been a success without her.

Now as I am getting older, I am passing Tiny Town to my son, Charles, so it can remain open for all to enjoy.

Written 1-1-1990 by Francis John Moshinskie

 
 
Family links: 
 Parents:
  John A. Mroshinskie (1888 - 1955)
  Anna Marie Albeck Mroshinskie (1890 - 1974)
 
 Spouse:
  Louise Phillips Moshinskie (1918 - 1998)*
 
 Siblings:
  Marie Mroshinskie (1913 - 1988)*
  Francis John Moshinskie (1915 - 1999)
  Helen Mroshinskie (1917 - 2003)*
  Josephine Mroshinskie (1922 - 1978)*
  Veronica Emma Mroshinskie Mueller (1929 - 2013)*
  John M. Mroshinskie (1931 - 2014)*
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Burial:
Simsboro City Cemetery
Simsboro
Lincoln Parish
Louisiana, USA
Plot: Phillips-Sims Cemetery
 
Created by: Jim (Dr. Mo) Moshinskie,...
Record added: Nov 12, 2006
Find A Grave Memorial# 16625695
Francis John Frank Moshinskie
Added by: Jim (Dr. Mo) Moshinskie, PhD, CPT
 
Francis John Frank Moshinskie
Added by: Jim (Dr. Mo) Moshinskie, PhD, CPT
 
Francis John Frank Moshinskie
Added by: Jim (Dr. Mo) Moshinskie, PhD, CPT
 
 
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Rest in God's loving arms,
- Nora Ann
 Added: Aug. 29, 2013

- Sent with love~Cerise
 Added: Feb. 27, 2011
SLEEP IN HEAVENLY PEACE FRANCIS JOHN
- Missing*U*Always ~ Loving*U*Forever
 Added: Feb. 26, 2011
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This page is sponsored by: Jim (Dr. Mo) Moshinskie, PhD, CPT

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