Paul grew up in Iowa, or, as he put it, “I grew up in a hardware store.” Paul worked in his father’s store through high school and then went to college in Kansas. He got a draft notice his Sophomore year – it was WWII. The local draft board told him he could finish the semester before going into the service. “But,” he added, “during that semester, the draft ended and I had the world in a jug and the cork in my hand.” He went back to Iowa, got married, and went back to the hardware store.
But then it was time to put the cork back in the jug: along came the Korean War and the draft fired back up again. Still, Paul got a choice assignment – Germany – and following that adventure he was back in Iowa. While still working for his dad, he heard of a hardware store for sale in a nearby town and he and his wife bought it and renamed it Cedar Falls Hardware. “I thought we’d starve to death the first few years, but it worked out. We sold hardware and then appliances.” They settled in and were eventually a family of six, with four daughters, and when the hardware store lost its least, they reopened as Landmark Appliances. Paul explains what then transpired:
“We were a GE store. That’s mostly what we sold. And the sales rep for GE tried to convince me to open up a second store. I told him I wasn’t interested and he said, ‘Would you consider selling your store?’ So I sat with my wife and we put a blue-sky number on the business. They said, ‘Okay.’ So we took the money and put it into duplexes and triplexes.” Anyone who’s ever turned on HGTV knows how wise an investment that was, especially given that Cedar Falls is a college town with its endless supply of renters.
It also offered the freedom to travel and the Klotzs bought the first in a series of motor homes. One of their trips was to Arizona, where his wife had a sister. (His wife passed away a decade ago.) That led them to an extended stay in a small park in Mesa. Paul stopped one day to check out a newer and larger park nearby and as he toured the place, he was drawn to the Lapidary/ Silversmithing room. “I met a farmer from Marshalltown, Iowa, which is about 30 minutes from where we were living, and he took me under his wing. I just wanted to polish rocks but he told me that if I knew how to solder – which I did, from the hardware store – then I’d have no problem making jewelry.” Paul got hooked on jewelry making and on The Resort, eventually buying a park model.
Paul continues to split his time between The Resort and Cedar Falls. And while he’ll turn 94 on December 8th, he keeps a shop back in Iowa where he can make jewelry, and also has a lawn mower repair hobby/business. He summed it up by saying, “I stay busy all the time.”