Utah Man Shapes Pens Out Of His Old High School Gym Floor

Apr 11, 2021, 10:29 PM | Updated: Dec 30, 2022, 11:10 pm

LEHI, UtahAnyone who remembers Lehi back in the 1980s knows it doesn’t quite look like it once did. While change may be inevitable, one man is doing what he can to make sure no one forgets the sleepy little town he grew up in.  

“From when I was a kid, we didn’t even have a streetlight,” Darin Kirkham said. “The last 10 years, we’ve probably seen more growth than we ever have.”

For him, keeping a grip on the way things “used to be” is a bit of a hobby.

“It’s really kind of therapeutic,” Kirkham said, while shaping a piece of wood in a room attached to his garage. “I can come out here and forget about my real job and all the other challenges of life and just enjoy doing this.”

Woodworking is something he first got into back when Lehi was the way he remembered it.

“You know, I used the band saw in high school, the sander, the table saw,” Kirkham said.

Like most things in life, that particular hobby ran out of ink — until a few years ago, when a trip to a festival changed everything.

“I saw this young kid, he had a booth set up there and he was selling these pens,” said Kirkham. “I turned to my wife, I said, ‘You know, that’s something I’d always wanted to do,’ and she said, ‘Well, your life is halfway over, why don’t you do it?'”

For Kirkham, shaping pens is a way to keep the past present.

“A pen has so much more meaning if there’s a story behind it,” he said.

One of the stories he’s brought to life is his father’s.

“He’s a big-time gardener,” said Kirkham. “He’s 86 years old, and last year, he took out a concord grapevine that he’s had as part of his garden for probably 50 years.”

Kirkham took a piece of that grapevine and turned it into pens for his family — but his biggest task to date involved the story of his own past: the tale of that town without a streetlight.

“Every day going to work to get on the freeway, I could see all the construction there going on at the high school,” he said.

Part of the construction at Lehi High School involved replacing the old gym floor.

“I played on that floor, my brothers played on that floor, I have a sister who also played on the floor, and my son also played basketball on that floor,” Kirkham said.

He asked the principal if he could use those pieces of wood to shape mementos.

“I think it’s pretty cool,” Kirkham said. “There’s got to be other people who think it’s pretty cool as well.”

Darin Kirkham sands down a pen in a room attached to his garage. Kirkham uses a drill to shape the center of one of his pens. Kirkham says he's sold about 80 pens so far. Darin Kirkham's high school basketball team is pictured in his old yearbook. The gym at Lehi High School is seen after the new floor was installed. One of Kirkham's finished pens is seen in his workshop.

He’s sold about 80 pens made from the court so far, and a portion of every sale goes into the school’s scholarship fund. Because while no one may be able to stop change, Kirkham hopes a few will be able to hold on to a piece of their youth, and even use them to write their own future.

“That gym was in use for 60 years,” Kirkham said. “That is a piece of history to hang on to.”

Anyone who would like to purchase one of Kirkham’s pens can email him at darinkirkham@gmail.com.

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Utah Man Shapes Pens Out Of His Old High School Gym Floor