On a jaunt around Clermont County in Spring 1978 I found that the driveway I had admired for over a decade had a ‘For Sale’ sign.
I managed to convince Dick to take a look at the place – I had never seen the actual house only the driveway disappearing into an enticing grove of pine trees.
The family that owned the place had purchased the land (6 acres) and built a weekend cabin back in 1942. They called the place Longwood Acres.
As the years passed they slowly added rooms to the original one room cabin: a kitchen and then an entry wing with bathroom, bedroom and sewing room. The final addition was an attached 1 car garage.
The Longs (the original owners) had planted all the pine trees (hundreds of them) which by 1978 had grown to full stature. Back in 1942 they had carved the original lot out of a farmer’s corn field which overlooked the (then) empty valley just east of Milford. The Little Miami River still winds through this valley. On quiet evenings the Longs could hear the enigmatic wailing of trains moving their freight (and in the 1940s, their passengers) through the valley across the river.
The woods sloping down toward Route 50 and the Little Miami River came up to within perhaps 15 feet of the back porch, but one could still see the outline of the distant Carew Tower (then the tallest building in Cincinnati, some 20 miles away). The Longs said that the nature of the hills made this location the only one with this amazing view.
It was MY dream home and Dick immediately saw the potential of the place. We had to have this place! We made an offer to the Longs.
The Longs liked us and accepted our offer. But now we had to secure a loan. Dick’s position with US Precision Lens certainly found favor with the bank and a loan was approved.
All we had to do was find the money for the down payment and other expenses.
We were $600 shy of the amount that would seal the deal!
No problem, I thought. I’m sure my parents will loan us the money.
Nope! My father vetoed the idea (gee, thanks Dad!).
And Dick’s parents? Umm. Don’t think so.
Things looked pretty hopeless until my great friend, Jim FitzPatrick, came generously to the fore and offered to lend us the needed $600 (pretty much all he had tucked away!) for as long as we needed. A providential gift had arrived.
And please note that this Jim is the same Jim who is helping me to create these “Dick’s Pages.” I truly would not have done this project without his unique ideas and continued help.
With Jim’s help we were back in business! Hurrah!
By late summer, Deblin had a “For Sale” sign and by autumn we had moved into “The Pines.”
And Dick immediately began chopping trees to expand the back yard and exploring for the location of the new Observatory he planned to build.
One of the first things Dick undertook was to remove the clunky old oil furnace and replace it with individual Intertherm heaters in each room. And then there was the cramped old kitchen that needed… something!
First he tore out and replaced the hideous checkerboard tile floor. That helped, but the place still felt dark and cramped. So Dick replaced the window with what was essentially a double paned storm door. That gave a vista view of the valley below and the hills beyond – heck, you can see the Cincinnati skyline if you know where to look!
Then the garage came under Dick’s tools as he transformed it into the room that was to become first a temporary bedroom for our son David and then the first incarnation of the Pines Optical Shop, then my art studio and finally “Heather’s Room” – the official dwelling place for doggie, Heather (although, actually she rarely uses it, preferring to be within 3’ of me most of the time - Heather and I are inseparable buds).
And so the projects continued….1
1 See “Dick the Builder” for more adventures in carpentry…
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