Vickie Baker loves puzzles. In fact, she may be the fastest puzzle-solver in Teller County. Most times she doesn’t even look at the picture on the box.
One thousand pieces in the puzzle? No problem. Three hours max.
A client at DayBreak, an Adult Day Program, in Woodland Park, Baker is the puzzle whiz kid at the age of 64.
Baker, who was born developmentally-disabled, started doing puzzles when she was 6 years old. “They’re hard to do,” she said.
Last week, Baker got down to business on an intricate 1,000-piece puzzle of a baseball field with Babe Ruth as one of the stars. Her methods are what one night call ‘interesting,” as she puts all the pieces in the box lid.
From there, she fishes a piece out and puts it where it belongs, time and again. “It doesn’t come natural to everybody,” she said, by way of explaining her gift.
She begins every puzzle by filling in the edges. “Because that’s the easiest way,” she said.
But even the masters get tired. “I stop for a while to take a break,” she said.
Baker lives with her brother Craig in Florissant, who suggests an answer to the puzzle of his sister’s expertise. “She’s a savant,” he said. “I didn’t understand the phenomena of puzzle mastery until she came to live with me.”
When she was younger, Vickie participated in Special Olympics in bowling and swimming. “She has trunkloads of medals and ribbons,” Craig said.
Today Vickie enjoys swimming with her friends at the Woodland Aquatic Center.
Not every puzzle meets Vickie’s criteria. “When she doesn’t like a puzzle, she crumples up the pieces and puts them back in the box,” Craig said.