Mel Chesnut’s monthly mortgage payment on his five-bedroom home in Old Lake Highlands was $30. Sounds pretty good until you consider that his monthly salary at the time was $50. Today, at 100 years old, Chesnut lives across the street from that $4,250 house he bought in 1943. When he first moved to Dallas, the Garland-Buckner intersection was “nothing but a crossroads,” Chesnut says. “I watched the Casa Linda (Plaza) being built,” he says. Herschel Brown, one of the first developers of Casa Linda, even helped Chesnut build a woodshop. “I had taught masonry to Herschel at the Masonic Lodge. When I asked him if I could borrow his cement mixer, he asked me what I needed it for, then came over and laid the foundation for the woodshop for me. I think it was just his way of repaying me.” To this day Chesnut “likes to mess around in that woodshop.” He carves walking sticks, back scratchers and toys out of sticks collected on neighborhood walks — his hands remain steady with a sharp knife, despite his years. Neighbors say Chesnut’s handmade items are hot commodities. Salli Buntenbah, for instance, says she peddled Mel-made walking sticks at a recent garage sale and sold all of them. “I sold a ton of them and when I told (the shoppers) about Mel, some of them asked to meet him,” she says. Chesnut’s friends, neighbors and family gathered for a huge birthday bash in October. He has a lot of friends, says Buntenbah. “He is a lovely treasure in our neighborhood.”