I got enough money together to finish the roof–in about 12 degree conditions with snow falling on you while you’re up there. Again, a couple of local guys took it on with me, and I have to hand it to them, ’cause it was dangerous. Slippery, and you really had to be paying attention. By February it was done.
So I called Rob Riccardelli, a good friend in Boston and said, “I gotta get outta here–you got any work for me?” Yep. I locked up this place the best I could. Sections of it were still wide open to the weather, but the structural restabilizing was done: the foundation had been jacked up and rebuilt, the steel rods were run through and the place sucked back together, the timber framing had been cut and repositioned and locked in, and the roof was on. The septic tank was in but not connected, and there was a phone and electricity–all running underground. But nothing was hooked up, except to run power tools. That was four years after I started the whole thing.
I took off and was gone for a long time; I went and worked on the road. It was almost nine months before I even came back.
I worked in Boston, on MSNBC-TV studios in Secaucus, New Jersey; I worked on this giant project in Brookline, Massachusetts, doing really high-end trim work. Anyway, made pretty good money, all union wages. Workin’ workin’ workin’ all the time, almost the whole year of 1998. And eventually ended up back here.
Then my dad died, April of ’99. I went out to Arizona to deal with his estate; I was the executer. (My brothers) Lance, Joel, my mother, and I (my sister Lynn didn’t come) all stayed in his house and tried to figure out what to do with his stuff. I was dealing with banks and stockbrokers and funeral homes and the state of Arizona (for the death certificate)– all the stuff you hafta do. The eventual decision we made was that all my dad’s relics and souvenirs and artwork–stuff that he had gathered all his life all over the world–should come back here to the farm where he was born and raised. We gathered and boxed and labeled it, and my old high school friend Dan Thorpe volunteered to come out and drive back with me. He and I loaded everything into a Ryder truck, including my dad’s ashes (under the seat), and drove across country. Then we loaded it all into my barn.
On Memorial Day 1999 the family gathered for his funeral in the Clermont Cemetery. I went down and dug the hole, and made up a eulogy and conducted the service. Afterward the family and all his old friends from around here gathered in the Clermont Fire Hall, which was graciously offered for a luncheon-thing. People brought food and stood up and talked about my dad. My kids and their mother, Rachel, came from Philadelphia, as well as her parents down from Rochester. Rob Riccardelli came from Boston. There were a lot of people. My dad was sort of a landmark around here.