Wauwatosa East High School graduates Martin Minix and Anthony Horn shocked their parents — and themselves — when they showed artisanal promise.
The 2012 graduates set to work on an old ping-pong table sitting in Minix's parent's home. The goal was to refurbish the table by the time Minix's younger brother graduated from high school so it could be used at the celebratory open house that would follow, Minix said.
'It was really old, really worn down and it just kind of sat there as a work bench for my dad,' Minix said of the table.
With the help of a little elbow grease, the table transformed over the course of about a week. The finished product, which depicts a basketball court — 'Wauwatosa East' painted on one end and 'Red Raiders' printed on the other — left all parties surprised by the pair's artistic abilities.
'Our parents said, 'Wow, this is way better than anything we thought you guys could do,'' said Horn, laughing.
The young men, each pursuing collegiate degrees — Horn at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Minix at North Park University in Illinois — decided to paint the table something other than the 'plain old blue tip and black top' to pay homage to their own history and that of the generations before them, they said.
Both Minix and Horn have a parent who attended Wauwatosa East High School and Minix's grandfather, Bob Christensen, was a longtime swim coach and teacher in the Wauwatosa School District and now belongs to the school's Hall of Fame.
The middle of the table features the original Tommy Raider logo, which was taken out of commission in 2006 due to its American Indian imagery, although the 'Red Raiders' slogan remains. Horn and Minix said they 'grew up with the Tommy Raider logo,' and wore prints of it on T-shirts throughout their academic careers.
The duo used outdoor stain and paint to create the design, which was polished with a water-based finish.
The end-product left both of them with chills.
'Once we actually finished we stepped back and there was a goose-bumps moment,' said Minix. 'I got a 'C' in art class. I'm the least artistic person ever.'
To help pay for the supplies to refurbish the table, the pair looks to sell it.
'That was definitely lost in translation with our parents,' said Minix, laughing, as he recalled the original premise that the table would remain at his family's home.
So, how much is the 5-by-9-foot, regulation-sized table worth? That's a question both Horn and Minix have been mulling over for a few days.
'We hope someone just comes to us with an offer that we can't refuse,' said Minix.
The pair hopes to spin a side business out of the newfound hobby — possibly recreating other fields or basketball courts on old ping-pong tables.
'It was really bad and we kind of gave it a new life,' said Horn. 'Ultimately, we (made) it into a show piece.'