Lawn Chair

My Dad was a carpenter by trade, but was fearless in tackling any project that involved design or construction. His thought was if someone else could design/construct/repair something, he could figure it out and do so himself. As a kid, I vividly recall my dad purchasing a new van, must’ve been the late 70’s. I remember him drawing for hours on graph paper designing a ‘graphic’ for his newly purchased van. Once his design was finalized, I believe he had one of my uncles paint the van- if I’m mistaken on that account, I can assure you whoever painted it, my dad was over their shoulder observing and learning.

I thought that was so cool, designing something and making it a reality. As impressed as I was, there was more to come. We piled in the van one Saturday and drove to either Caldor’s or Bradlees; the Target of the day. We headed straight to the automotive section where my dad selected diamond shaped smoked polycarbonate windows for the sides of the van. With windows purchased we headed home. Rather than park on the drive, my dad drove down the left side of our house and parked in the rear yard. As we ate lunch he looked at the instructions for the window install. Afterwards we walked to the wood shop in the rear yard, my dad procured his sawzall and proceeded to cut into the sides of his newly purchased van! My dad had a vision and went about designing and constructing it himself, no fear; I was amazed! He also finished the interior of the van with seats/beds. We spent many summer vacations travelling in my dad’s creation.

However, the van was merely a side project; my dad was a carpenter. If he thought a room in the house should be bigger, he made it so… if a deck was wanted or the kitchen needed new cabinets, strap the tools on and start building. No construction project intimidated my dad. If he didn’t know how to do something -remember no Google back then- he found someone that did and shadowed them until he felt confident he could do it as well.

Even if he wasn’t doing the actual work, he was always observing to be sure it was done correctly. When he had a new roof and skylights put on his house, he wasn’t able to do the work himself. However, he set up a lawn chair in the yard where he could watch the roofers. Whenever the roofers were working, my dad was sitting there watching/supervising. I’m sure the roofers didn’t whole heartedly appreciate it, but I also know they learned a few things from my dad. His manner was to teach one how rather then tell one how. I don’t know if it was known to the roofers or not, but my dad wasn’t sitting in the lawn chair by choice; he was valiantly fighting cancer. Sadly, he passed in 1998.

Behind a folded lawn chair, standing beside my dad and watching a construction project… having discussions about how it’s being built, the design, materials etc. That’s my dream project, my reoccurring dream.


Dream On,

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* This post is part of the ArchiTalks series in which a group of ‘blog-ing’ architects select a topic and the group all post on the same day and promote each other’s blogs and read varying takes on the topic. This month’s topic is ‘Dream Project.’ To read how other architects interpreted the topic please click the links below:

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
dream until your dreams come true

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Project Could be a Dream – Sh Boom

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
“dream project…”

Mark Stephens – Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
The Dream Project


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