Ingenious Villager continues creates fanciful items for sheer fun.
Since moving to The Villages nine years ago, Jerry Hone has captivated friends and neighbors by making unique, one-of-a-kind items that attract attention, including a fan jet-powered 1916 bicycle.
“It’s more for show than go,” says Jerry. “Usually, I pedal to get up to speed, to get rolling, and then I switch on the power to get up to 25 to 30 mph and just sit back and let it push me.”
The creative Villager also turns heads driving a vintage, aqua blue Dodge bumper car mounted on a modified golf cart frame. “There are quite a few people doing different things with golf carts,” he says, “but not very many people are doing things with a 1957 bumper car.”
Jerry’s latest creation is a large mechanical music machine of six chimpanzees riding a 20-inch bicycle. One chimp can be seen drinking a bottle of Coca Cola while the cola company’s iconic radio and TV jingle “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” plays in the background.
He has created other extraordinary pieces, including a motorized 40-inch galloping horse with over 250 handmade wood parts, along with a musical machine of three chimpanzees rocking back and forth while playing a Bavarian stringed hurdy gurdy. The monkeys demonstrate the proverbial principle, see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, as a small mouse eats cheese as the music plays.
Jerry has made it his goal to work on one major project a year, and all of his creations feature a small plaque with fitting proverbs or scriptures. His large musical pieces are displayed inside the lanai of the home he shares with Joyce, his wife of 54 years.
Joyce says her favorite creation of Jerry’s is an outdoor grill he built inside a small train. She showed him a picture of one and was thrilled when he began creating a replica.
Jerry says he’s not the only one creating unique items. Members of the Music Box Society International Society and the Music Box Society of The Villages– he belongs to both–are just as talented.
“The members primarily work on older music boxes from the 1870s to newer ones of the 1920s and they restore them,” he says. “Part of that society is animatronics, which are things like this that make movement or dance, and I’ve built quite a few different ones of those. Everybody likes them because they make people happy.”
Jerry’s interest in building unique items began in his youth, and continued as he worked as a tool and die maker for General Motors for 14 years, followed by 16 years as a video producer before he retired after 30 years with GM.
The former U.S. Air Force pilot also enjoys being a member of The Villages Hangar Flyers and the Castaways RC Boat Club.
Relocating to The Villages from Akron, Ohio, Jerry recalls, was a great move. “We came down to visit my uncle, went back up north when it was 5 below zero, and I said, ‘Why are we staying up here?’”
The Hones’ four children, scattered across the country, have enjoyed having an excuse to come to Florida to see their parents and go to Central Florida attractions.
Outside of The Villages, Jerry treasures serving as a Stephen minister for Community Church in Fruitland Park. “It’s really important to me, and that is when you come along the side of other men that maybe have lost their job or their wife and just take them out to have coffee so that they have somebody to talk to.”
Some of these men, he adds, have become good friends.