|Project by Escalate.com sucks||posted 04-13-2014 08:45 AM||2771 views||0 times favorited||5 comments|
My wife, Lynn and I have lived here since 1990.
We looked for six months before we found this little diamond in the rough.
It wasn’t much to look at back then, but as a carpenter, I saw huge potential.
The Cape Cod style house was built in 1957, the year I was born and had good strong bones.
That’s Lynn with Sammy – our first dog. He was so smart. Look how cute Lynn is!
The ½ acre double lot was in the middle of a small suburb by a lake.
It was covered with 26 tall trees and used to be the Sears Estate.
The streets wind through the rolling landscape and around the lake as designed by
an understudy of Frank Lloyd Wright.
We like to walk our dogs to the park by the lake, just about every day.
I remember how hard it was to buy this house.
I worked long hours and weekends and I sold my my jeep and motorcycle but we still didn’t have quite enough money for everything.
After Lynn told her dad about the house, he came out to see it and said he wanted to help with a loan so we could buy our first home.
My father in law, Jim Newman was like a mentor to me and a good family man. He was a very successful businessman as the vice president of American Can Co. He had a personality that made you smile and feel welcome.
He was also an avid gardener.
One year for his birthday, I made this golf balll display case for Jim’s collection.
They raised two sons and a daughter in Lake Forest IL. They taught them about family values, saving and investing, the importance of a good education and being involved in the community and politics.
I knew little about money, my family was torn apart by Jehovah’s Witnesses, a cult religion. I barely graduated High school in 1975 – the year we were taught Armageddon was coming,..... and I had never voted.
We came from completely different worlds. Jim was a well educated, white collar professional; I was a blue collar dusty carpenter without a clue.
Jim was a pillar of the community and had many friends. Everyone liked him. I’m sure he dreamed of the day Lynn, a daughter of the American Revolution, would marry a successful Lake Forest business man with all the right credentials and a normal family.
Not some long haired kid from California in street roller skates.
But, he must have seen a diamond in the rough in me.
We had breakfast together almost every Sunday at The Egg Harbor Cafe in Lake Forest and we spent most of our vacations with them.
I remember how he would bring out things to look at like an old Silver dollar or a gold coin from his collection, his dad’s old receipt pad from his electrical business with a phone number # 18 on it. One tiime it was a 1930s pad lock that his grandfather used on a box full of tools that brought back memories and made him smile.
As time passed, he would hand write a little note about the items and give them to me at Christmas or birthdays.
Thanks to Jim, I’ve learned to love history through the feel of an old coin, the stories of times past and the dynamic of being included in his wonderful family.
He passed away a few years ago and I think of him every day. I know he was proud of me, like I was his own son. I sure miss him.
We made this round garden with a flag pole in his memory. A friend of mine made this stone plaque.
After 22 years of remodeling every inch of this house, I look back at all the time spent together with them discussing the latest changes or future plans like paint colors, over breakfast and coffee. The house became a common ground to share ideas and occasionally remind us not to over build (epic fail).
I loved it when Jim would come and visit to see the progress and smile at me. He knew I would succeed.
In many ways, this home is a big part of him.
We scrimped and saved and used recycled materials like windows, beams, oak flooring and trim.
We did the best we could and never borrowed money to remodel,..... hence the reason it’s taken so long.
Might be a good idea to also thank my dear wife, Lynn for putting up with all my dust.
Jim bought this bench as a Christmas gift so he could sit in the gardens when they came for a visit.
For me, it was never about investing in real estate or making money.
It was about a journey with my true family and – with the help of a few friends,
to turn a huge project into a home that represented a life time of memories it created.
There are several posts in my LJ profile of our house. I hope you like them. Thank you.
In Loving memory of Jim and my mother in law, Shirley who recently passed away.
My ol’ shop dog, Kasey who lived to 15 1/2 yrs. old,
Abbey girl who died suddenly at 8 1/2 years old.
Our 20 yr. dear old cat, Tess,
She liked to hang out with me while working in the gardens.
......one of the coolest dogs you would’ve ever met.
On a good note, we have a new member of the family.
His name is Tyler.
.....my new little garden buddy.