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REFLECTIONS: June 12-The Cabin on Beaver Lake, part 2

I can recall quite vividly, Dad trudging across that weedy hillside, taking long strides measuring off property lines. He proudly announced where the cabin would stand. Where he wanted it was probably the worse section of ground on that hillside. It was solid rock. He didn’t have a backhoe or a bulldozer. I assume that would have defeated his purpose of letting us do all the work. Dad seemed to find a solitary person’s comfort from fatigue. Now, I know that fatigue was probably the best cure for sleepless nights worrying about a son in Vietnam. A country so far away and so unfamiliar. The only time I heard Dad say anything negative about Danny’s service career was when I overheard his talking to friends. He said, “This will be one bitter old man, if my son comes home in a box.” He was concerned, but the cabin detoured the negative concentration of something so far out of his control. As I said before, the spot for the cabin was nothing but solid rock. We were all, Nancy, Mom, and me issued picks to chip out the rock and level the ground with. We never considered any other way. I can still see Dad in his overalls and big brogan shoes picking away at the rock. He had sweat beads on his back, a black wet strand of hair on his forehead. There were gnats swarming all around him. Occasionally, he would stop to drink ice water from a fruit jar. Dad worked the fastest, but we all worked. My hands were covered with blisters from the pick handle. I remember wrapping my bleeding blisters from the pick handle with cloth. Dad never was much on using gloves. I know he appreciated the feel of God’s earth in his hands. I seldom saw him wear a pair of gloves, consequently, neither did we. Mom was not much for roughing it, but she was very faithful to her family by staying in that solitude with us. She would, however, take a daily reprieve by going into town. But, she was always there with meals and water. That was also the summer Mom canned 400 jars of dill pickles. Dad must have had a bumper cucumber crop. Anyway, we must have eaten a jar of homemade pickles a day. Once the land was finally flat enough to lay a foundation, the next step of cabin raising began. Most people would have gone to the nearest stonery and purchased native stone, but not Dad. He was one of the thriftiest men I have ever known. I think I inherited those genes of “save half of what you earn, and do the work if you can” attitude. Dad had an old friend from his Boy Scouting career that had a large native stone covered field in Fayetteville. His name was Uncle Frank Lewis. Dad picked up all the stone he needed for the foundation, right there on Uncle Frank’s property. On a borrowed ABF truck and in the trunk of his car, he carried all that rock to the cabin site. The windows for the cabin came from an old hot house. Dad had always been a good neighbor to the Buchers, so when Mr. Burcher died, Mrs. Bucher gave Dad everything in Mr. Bucher’s Garage, whence came the windows and various sizes of pipe. Dad always was a scrounger. He did, however, buy a cement mixer which saved a lot of muscle power for all of us. My sister, Nancy, was only 10 years old but heartily mixed the sand, color and concrete into the mixer. When Dad built the fireplace, Nancy would carry the rock on her head, and climb the ladder to Dad. He stacked the stone like working a jigsaw puzzle. He ever handed the trowel over to us while he drank water from a fruit jar. Occasionally, he would make guttural sounds at us when we failed to consider where the seams met the other rocks. We felt we did a lot of the work, but the credit goes to Dad. I never thought that that particular “hands on” experience would be beneficial, but since then, I’ve built my own rock walls and flower beds with ease and confidence. I just wish he could have seen the fruits of his teachings in masonry. TO BE CONTINUED

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