September 06, 2019

Minnesota man spends 10 years handcrafting 10 violins for his grandchildren
Gene Van Alstine has delightful memories of sitting on his grandfather's lap as he played the fiddle, a daily ritual that brought a smile to his face."I'm not sure the cows got milked every night, but I'll guarantee those fiddles got played," Van Alstine told KARE 11. The violin was passed down to Van Alstine when he was young, and the Cambridge, Minnesota, resident considers it his most treasured object. "I've got a lot of stuff in this world, but nothing means more to me than that fiddle," he said. "Every time I pick it up, I think of my grandpa and how much he meant to me."He knew the violin would remain in his family, but with 10 grandchildren, Van Alstine had no idea how to fairly pass it down to one of them. "You can't cut it in half, and I wanted each one of them to have the same feeling that I had," he said. Van Alstine figured out a way to get around this: He would just make 10 violins for his grandchildren. He had never made a violin before, so he spent three years reading about it, and about seven actually creating the instruments.Van Alstine estimates he spent about 1,000 hours a year making the violins, continuing the project while twice battling bladder cancer. He surprised his grandchildren with their new fiddles on Easter, and since then, a few have started taking violin lessons. "I think we're so lucky to have somebody that loves us so much that they gave us that special of a gift," granddaughter Kendrah Schmidt, 19, said.

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