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‘United We Stand’

Al Holcombe’s special U.S. maps inspire all

Created date

March 22nd, 2018
(From left) General services staff Kyle Cromer, Nick Inverso, and Tim Lamanna join Maris Grove resident Al Holcombe (second from right), to pause and admire the map Al made from state license plates.

Staff join Al Holcombe to admire the map Al made from state license plates.

No sooner had Al Holcombe retired than he began the hobby he still pursues today.

Al, who lives at Maris Grove, Erickson Living’s retirement community in Delaware County, Pa., is a mapmaker, and a nontraditional one at that.

Al’s medium is state license plates. His United Plates of America maps, which he creates on campus in Maris Grove’s creative arts studios and its woodshop, resemble puzzles of the United States.

Some of Al’s U.S. maps are as large as 60- by 40-inches overall and sell at craft shows for about $2,100.

But most of his sales are for smaller, individual state maps, each one a collage of that state’s license plates. They’re ideal for gifting.

Now one of his large 50-state maps hangs at Rose Court, Maris Grove’s on-site rehabilitation and continuing care neighborhood.

The idea to display a license plate map there came from Maris Grove Executive Director Maureen Heckler, who had seen one of Al’s maps hanging in the VA Hospital in Philadelphia.

He was delighted with the request to make one for Rose Court and insisted on donating it.

The map hangs in the heavily trafficked hallway just beyond Rose Court’s entry. Residents and family members, visitors, and staff pass by it every day.

Emblazoned across the top of the map are the words “United We Stand.”

“It will have meaning for everyone who looks at it and sees all those states and those words,” says Al. “It means we should all stand together instead of dividing ourselves into separate groups. Anyone who looks at the map has got to feel good.”