When Louis Torres gets home after a hard day of work at Lockheed Martin, he enjoys a cold Miller Lite or Milwaukee’s Best. But when he finishes a cold one, he doesn’t just throw the can away. He turns it into an ornament that he uses to transform his yard into an aluminum wonderland. Torres’ home on the corner of Currie and Whitmore Streets near Montgomery Plaza is something of a Fort Worth landmark (or a glorified trash heap depending on your point of view).
There are hundreds of cans strung like popcorn necklaces and hung in Torres’ backyard like boozy Christmas lights. Many are cut with a knife and collapsed to resemble a Christmas tree ornament, others are just strung together as whole cans.
He shuddered at the question of just how many cans were hung in his yard.
“I might pass out if I think about it,” he said.
Torres is likely no stranger to passing out. He said that he drank 80 percent of those cans over one summer.
His daughter is the one who initially encouraged him to turn his cans into ornaments more than a decade ago. And he’s been doing it so long that making ornaments is now just a part of drinking.
The yard art is not without controversy. Last year the city made him take down the decorations, claiming that the scene was a distraction to passing motorists. Eventually the city relented, and allowed him to redecorate his home of 64 years on the condition that his cans stay contained within his yard. But he had to start over. Luckily his appetite for Miller Lite and Milwaukee’s Best was as voracious as ever — they are the only two kinds of cans you’ll find in the elaborate adornment. In just one summer he and a few friends killed enough brews to repopulate his yard and then some.
In an attempt to preempt people stealing cans from his yard to turn into a recycling center for cash, he gives his leftovers and fallen cans to homeless people or anyone who asks for some.
The upkeep of the ornaments requires a steady supply of new cans. Stiff winds or strong storms routinely claim a good number of them. Luckily he, in the company of his loyal mutt Whitey, enjoys nothing more than tossing back a few and turning his after-work beverages into works of art.
He said that people passing by often stop to admire his handy work, as though it’s a single-house beer can interlochen light tour. And he shows no signs of slowing down.