Our First 10 Years

Homestead Log Homes

by Jim Hoffman

Dustin Hoffman won the Academy Award for best actor in “Kramer vs. Kramer”, gas was less than a dollar a gallon, (ouch!) and a new car cost less than $10,000.00. The year was 1979. And this was our first year in business, the beginning of our company… Homestead Log Homes Inc. Now, in retrospect, sadly everyone’s hero… John Wayne had just died from lung cancer. Our buddy, the Shaw just got booted from Iran. Plus, those pesky Islamic militants went fanatical and held U.S. hostages there, and the evil Soviet Union invaded poor Afghanistan. “In other words, things were finally starting to improve in the Middle East, for Jimmy Carter.” But the worst thing of all for me was that… disco was taking over mainstream music and rap music had just hit the charts. I was musically devastated. I still loved the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Now in 1979, the hot selling commodity all over Oregon and the Pacific Northwest, were efficient burning woodstoves and fireplace inserts. Manufacturers were starting up all over the Willamette valley and in Washington state, with Schrader Woodstoves out of Eugene, Oregon one of the leaders. The key to Schrader’s success was their great assortment of shapes and sizes of stoves to fit every square footage of home, and their patented cast aluminum alloy doors that were light-weight and unique to the stove market. The company claimed more heat would pass through their doors into the room than with cast iron. And, although they were a little more expensive, the selling points were innovative and effective. I worked for Dennis and his wife, Donna, and they owned and operated five retail stove stores around Southern Oregon and Northern California, but our Medford store was the main office and where we all worked. We were selling woodstoves like hotcakes in 1979, each with a set of stove pads, a chimney system and complete installation. There were free standing models, units that tied into a home’s fireplace and stoves that were made specifically for mobile homes. Firewood was cheap and abundant, and everyone was trying to save money on their heating bills. Plus, everyone loved the natural warmth from wood heat and had to have one.

At the height of 1979’s wood burning season, our boss notified us of the next hot commodity… pre-cut log home kits. Too bad it wasn’t software for computers (Microsoft) or overly expensive mocha’s and latte’s (Starbuck’s). To this day, my Dad still reminds me that Bill Gates started his little company in 1978. I knew I should have paid more attention in that dreaded computer class I had in college. Dennis, on his own, had bought the dealership rights for Jackson County as an exclusive territory to sell log home kits. Homestead’s factory was near Redding, out in Anderson, California, about three hours south of Medford. He brought in co-workers Dave, Tom, Brian and me from our Schrader store and another couple from the Grants Pass store, as partners in a new start up. We each invested from one thousand to six thousand dollars. Our company was formed and Dennis put me in charge of selling pre-cut log home kits. We never talked about anything concerning building or contracting, it was just selling kits like we used to sell eight track tape decks and records to our friends. Dave had come up from Fremont, California a couple of years earlier and was one of the best salesmen and friendly guys I’d ever been around. He was a few years older, managed our store and was proud to be a Vietnam veteran. He was a key to Schrader’s dominance in the local woodstove market, was fun to work with and got me this job. Dennis had offered him a small slice of the Schrader Stove distributorships and he was full steam ahead for success. Tom was a year younger than me and had grown up in Medford. He and his family and friends knew everyone in southern Oregon. Tom was into motorcycle racing and had worked for an electrical and plumbing store, which came in handy. We got along great, and are still plugging along to this day. Brian had come up from the L.A. area with his wife and two kids to get into the home building and contracting business. Plus, to start a new life for his family here.

Brian wasn’t as optimistic as the rest of us and only bought in for a minor share. At the time, Tom and I did the stove sales, Dave the management and Brian the stove and chimney installations. It was a great working relationship between the four of us and we had fun getting together after work with a bunch of Tom’s friends. DJ and Missy, who ran the Grants Pass store, made it six total partners in our new venture. Lastly, I grew up in Eugene and had only been in Medford for a couple of years. After graduating from OSU in Corvallis, I dabbled in lumber and plywood sales with Weyerhauser in the Bay area for 2 years and even sold cars for a year in Medford. Even I would admit, I was the least qualified to run this venture and to understand log home construction. But, I believed at the time I was one heck of a salesman and a quick study. None of us had anything to lose and were all excited to be a part of a new adventure… pre-cut log home kits.

Immediately, Tom and I began setting up a log corner display the factory had given us as part of our dealership investment, plus pictures and blueprints on the wall. This was all we had to show our future customers, we didn’t even have a home in the area, but what the heck. The log home company in Anderson was only a few years old and was fledgling, but had a very pushy and convincing owner. He was older and fatherly to us and he reminded me of the snake oil salesman from those old black and white westerns I used to watch on Saturday mornings with my brother. “Drink this bottle kid and all your pain and afflictions will disappear.” Actually, both Dennis and this guy were very much alike, living beyond their means and totally full of themselves. But, how could this not be the next big thing? Waterbeds were huge, now woodstoves and next.. pre-cut log home kits. Dennis and his wife were each driving brand new BMW’s and had just bought a big ranch near the Rogue River, so the four of us were impressed with their lifestyle and wanted to follow in their wake. We were all looking forward to trading in our old Toyota pickups for something with German engineering and of course, required very expensive tune ups. 1979 was happening fast and we were right in the middle of it all. Plus, everyone was in their early twenties and ripe for adventure and personal economic gain. “Watch out Bill Gates, grab me a latte cause here I come!”

The Anderson log yard was totally unorganized, but there were guys cutting and peeling logs and assembling log home shells. A couple of log trucks were being unloaded when we pulled up for the first time. I have to admit; I was intrigued with their process and took in as much as I could. Homestead’s plan-book/brochure was somewhat disappointing to me and Mickey Mouse, in that it featured black and white hand-drawn exteriors and floor plans of around twelve models. It was printed on six stapled 11 by 17 white papers and didn’t show one color picture of a house that had been built. Looking back, I’m sure none of his customer’s would allow him in or near their finished log homes. The pricing page was by the square foot and completely incomprehensible to me or anyone else on what was included in his kit. But, I think that’s the way he wanted it. We were charged three dollars a piece for each brochure and told to sell them for six. This should have been an indication of what was to come, but we were all blind with ambition and young. Once we returned to Medford, we immediately ran an ad in the Oregonian newspaper, based in Portland. Low and behold the six dollar checks started rolling in the mailbox. “Hey, this brochure business wasn’t so bad. At least we were making a profit.” Things got even more lucrative after we ran out of the first batch of brochures and had a local print shop duplicate them for a dollar each.

Each time we drove down to the Anderson yard in one of Dennis’s new Beemer’s we would get grand tours of a few of his homes under construction or finished, from the fence line. We were being primed to buy all the counties in Oregon for $1500.00 each and that’s all Dennis and the snake oil salesman ever argued about. Apparently, people were lined up behind us to buy them, if we didn’t. The pressure was on for us to make a decision fast and I hadn’t even sold our first home. Now, Dennis didn’t like being pushed around. He was accustomed to be the one doing the pushing and definitely liked being in control in every situation. He would often indulge the five of us with his grandiose plans of having hundreds of stove stores and log home dealerships up and down the West coast. “We’re all going to be rich, rich I say!” Thinking back, it was like being led by Napoleon towards Russia. “Those Ruskies don’t stand a chance against us this winter. Go get em boys.” Now, our big plan was to put half log siding on an old stick-framed building we were renting as the stove showroom and warehouse. Of course, the owner of the building loved the idea but was unwilling to participate in any of the actual costs. “Great.” We put a lot of work in it for several months and installed log siding inside and out, did some nice stonework, put on a new Cedar shake roof and new carpeting through out. The place looked pretty good and attracted some interest in log homes. Besides, woodstoves were selling as fast as we could install them that Fall, and the place was humming with activity. The six of us were on our way, with personal economic gain just around the corner, down the alley, across the tracks, over the bridge, through the tunnel and off the… cliff?

The relationship between the two owners had gotten worse, as Homestead’s boss demanded a check in the mail today for the dealerships. Dennis had finally had enough and wanted out. He recommended that we all cut our losses now and get out of the log home business. We were contemplating his opinion, and then the next day I sold our first log home kit. “He wants out… fine, we can handle the loss… the more for us! Heh, heh, smirk, smirk!” The home buyer’s were from Cave Junction, near the Oregon Caves. Lance and his wife were kind of like hippies, but with money. Yeah, they were Yippies. Both were about our age and wanted a log home kit right away. During the late seventies there were relatively few log home companies around and most were back East. They had planned on ordering one from Missouri until they had heard about us and our free 150 mile delivery promotion. I sent their 50% deposit to Anderson, signed his contract and were told to expect delivery in about eight weeks. I think the entire log home package for this two bedroom, two bath log home kit, was around $15,000.00. Neither of us, my partners or the buyers really knew what was included, it was way too confusing, but they trusted us. He worked me hard to get a 100% deposit out of these customers, even offering a 5% discount for cash. It seemed everyone else had fallen for it, but we were living on Corn Flakes, peanut butter sandwiches and Top Ramen noodles every day. And, $7500.00 was a lot of money to each and every one of us back then. Luckily they wanted to wait.

On one of our trips to Anderson, Tom and I were driven east towards Mt. Lassen, an active volcano in Northern California. We were told this customer was extra special and so was his piece of property. Apparently, Bing Crosby had purchased the land in the early nineteen fifties hoping to bring a lot of Hollywood’s elite up with him. Bing was convinced this pristine, forested area of California would be a hit with celebrities. Meanwhile, they all followed Bob Hope into the desert to an area called Palm Springs. “Go Figure?” The Rising River Ranch was spectacular in that three rivers came out of the volcanic lava, flowed across about a thousand timbered acres and then disappeared back down into the earth. Clint Eastwood had recently purchased the ranch from the Crosby estate and was building a log home on one of the three islands between the meandering rivers. We got a tour of the original ranch house, which featured a small theater similar to what is now a popular addition in today’s big, custom homes. This high desert area is beautiful and mainly cattle ranching, but had recently become popular with fly fishermen. I’m sure Clint acquired it for the natural beauty and views of the Sierra Nevada’s.

His general contractor had come all the way from New York City to build this story book log home high in the mountains. It wasn’t a big house, around 1600 square feet, but was accented with tons of natural lava rock and two arched wooden bridges to get to it. You couldn’t drive a car right to the front door; you had to cross these two bridges. His plans were to take this new log home and stain it to look old and weathered, just like you’d see in an old western. I always enjoyed his first movies, those famous spaghetti westerns. We never met Clint there, or in Anderson, but considered him a close family friend. If you rent movies like I do, rent “Firefox”, a 1982 film about a hotshot Air force pilot that steals a futuristic Russian jet airplane from the Soviet Union. In the beginning of the movie his character is a down and out retired pilot pushed into a covert operation by the U.S. military. The opening sequence is of him at this same log home surrounded by a couple of helicopters while he is trying to escape their capture. Check it out. “Hey punk, make my day!” Oops, wrong movie.

Now with Clint Eastwood involved building log homes from this company in Anderson, we were getting pretty excited about our new venture and all the money we would be making. I had two more customers who had promised deposit checks the following week and wanted the 5% discount for paying in full. Fortunately, and to our utter disappointment, the home designer from Anderson called to say that her boss had left during the night and taken everything. She told us that no one had been paid in weeks and the business was cleaned out. “Left during the night? There’s probably a simple explanation.” Customers were calling about getting their 100% deposit back or their kit and that we should high tail it down there, ASAP. Dave, Tom and I borrowed the Schrader truck, rented a Uhaul truck and took off the next morning. Sure enough the place was crazy as everybody, customers and employees were scrambling to get something of value. The three of us started loading logs and log siding, it was better than getting nothing, but not nearly what had been taken from us. We even went to the Redding police, but were told it was a civil matter, not criminal. “I guess ripping people off wasn’t criminal?” Someone had seen him heading South down I-5 in a pickup truck pulling a trailer with all the company’s valuables. I’m convinced there were twenty and fifty dollar bills blowing out the back window. We almost went after him, until we realized both of our trucks top speed up hill was about 40 mph. If it had been down hill we were there. Apparently, everything was falling in around the snake man. He couldn’t keep up with the orders and had a big fight with Clint. I think it was all part of a big plan set up way ahead of time. To me he seemed like a person with no conscience and no remorse. Our boss at Schrader was right and we were duped into a grand scheme and didn’t see it coming. “Wow, that really hurt, kinda like gett’n spanked.”

Once we returned to Medford, with an assortment of weathered logs and looking like Nixon and his cronies after they got caught breaking into Watergate, a letter arrived from Anderson. It was an apology and some kind of explanation of what he did and why he did it. He offered us the name Homestead Log Homes and informed us he would be living somewhere in Europe. “Great news!” We would rather have our customer’s deposit back and the $1500.00 we paid him for the useless Jackson county dealership. Good thing we never bought the entire state. Now, what were we supposed to tell our customers? Fortunately, the couple from Cave Junction still wanted a log home and offered to become a partner in our company. Lance either wanted a kit or their money back, if somehow we were able to make this thing go. I thought we’d just flick it in and try to pay them back as soon as possible and not look back. It was a fun run, but time to go get a real job and start a career. Then, a few days later in comes one of my customers from Eugene and he wants to build a log cabin near Bend. I tell him the whole heart-breaking story and he’s still interested in working with us. He asked me why can’t we just go out and get some logs and make him his cabin. “Sounds easy, other than we don’t own a reliable chainsaw or know how to build a log home, sir!” So, I put him off for a week to discuss between ourselves the possibility of continuing on or each of us going our own way. Of course, the next day, another of my customers arrive from the Salem area wanting to build, and then another from the Portland area. They’re all serious and ready to give us a deposit and get going. I guess the ads in the Oregonian were working after all. “What to do. Flick it in or roll the dice?”

Now back in the late 1970’s the US Forest Service had a house log program where they set aside sections of forests of Lodgepole Pine. They would mark the bigger trees with spray paint, helping them to thin an area. I’m sure it was set up for homesteaders a hundred years ago and now to help them remove areas infected with pine beetles. “Heck, weren’t we Homesteaders?” One phone call and some paperwork and four of us were in the woods within three weeks time, logging. Try to do that today with all of our bureaucracy and red tape, it would be more like three years. I’m convinced because of us, that program was terminated shortly thereafter. “Hey boys, let’s send in young heathens with dull chainsaws and a farming tractor into the forest for three days and see what happens and count the casualties.” At least they marked enough trees to build all three of the homes we had sold. We hired a timber faller for the first day and the four of us tried to keep up with him by de-limbing and cutting the trees to length. We camped out for three nights and worked like dogs dragging each log into a deck area with the tractor. “Did I mention the mosquitoes?” They were the size of small bats and were eating us alive. I counted over a hundred bites on Dave’s back after the first day. We were all itching for success, but not like this. There were other homesteader’s in the woods nearby logging on the same program. One family had the wife cutting down the trees while the kids watched. “Go mommy go.” She had a little red McCullough chainsaw. The kind they sold at the local toy store. “Hello?” On almost every tree she tried to fall, the saw got stuck wanting to fall in the opposite direction. The husband and kids would push with all their might to get it going the right way and often couldn’t. I’m pretty sure I remember the husband using their Volvo station wagon with the wife on the hood to get more leverage. That week I realized a lot of respect for loggers and the hard work they do. They could look up at each tree and pick an open lane for it to fall into, plus they would pound plastic shims in the saw cut, which I considered cheating. A self loading log truck was contracted by us to pick them up. But, where to take them? Thinking back, I don’t know that I’ve had more fun than that logging experience and watching the Griswold’s wife struggle with that saw. “O.K. children, it’s now time to go feed the bears!”

My neighbor in Jacksonville had heard about our adventure and offered his five acres to us for $50.00 per month, payable whenever. “Our kind of deal.” It just happened to be the site of an old Chinese sawmill in the 1880’s. Jacksonville was the center of a huge gold rush in Southern Oregon as miners headed north from California’s gold rush. The property was not very flat, but who’s picky? All the logs were delivered and unloaded and we were in the business of making log home kits. We had seen an advertisement for a chainsaw mill called the Nordic Prince at the local saw shop. The chainsaw was suspended on a framework of steel that moved up and down and side to side on a ratchet and set of gears. It was mounted vertically and rolled down a twenty foot steel track. Each log was held in place while you walked the saw and made a lineal cut from one end to the other. Our wall logs needed to be two-sided and the rafters and floor joists, one-sided flat. At the time, it all seemed like one big experiment, somewhat similar to what Dr. Frankenstein went through, only more complicated. “Wrong brain, Igor!” Even with a special skip-chain for the chainsaw it was extremely slow and exhausting. It took us over twenty days to mill the logs for the fist cabin and we were working ten hour days, six days a week. Good thing you could buy ten Top Ramen noodle packages for a dollar.

At this time there were only three of us, Dave, Tom and I on the payroll with a few of our friends helping out when they could. Brian was busy remodeling homes and couldn’t afford the cut in pay to work with us. Joe and Randy were childhood friends of Tom and were always hanging out with us. Both of them enjoyed the outdoors work and our stories of having hundreds of log home dealerships up and down the West coast. “Rich I say!” I think we paid ourselves a salary of around $450.00 per month and were each barely surviving, and so was the company. I’m sure we all thought this would be a fun summer project and then head back to the real world. One sunny day a kid showed up from Portland, had heard about our operation and wanted to work, building log homes. He claimed that he had built a log home in Alaska the year before with a friend and had log building experience. It was way more than we had. Plus, we were a little behind on what I had promised this first customer on his delivery date. I remember that on his first day of work, as we’re peeling the logs with old-fashioned drawknives we started laughing that he was holding his knife upside down, with the beveled edge up. He remained quiet. We ribbed him about it again and joked about how much experience he really had building log homes? He still remained quiet, pulling the bark off with each stroke. Calmly, as he looked to the ground, he told us that we were the ones holding the drawknives upside down. And we were. “Hey, don’t these things come with instructions?”

Our log yard was about two miles west of Jacksonville, up on Wagon Trail Drive. Every day that I can remember working there, two old guys would walk by. Once in the morning and back with supplies in the afternoon. It was another half mile up to their ramshackle cabin, so quite a walk for these two. One was about sixty and looked just like Abe Lincoln without a beard, but more lined and weathered. The other was a spitting image of Rip VanWinkle, only bow-legged and much sleepier looking. They’d wave at us, but never stopped or came by to talk or anything. One afternoon as I’m reading our Medford newspaper, there’s a feature article and pictures of these two. Apparently, they were both prospectors and drawn together in pursuit of gold abandoned a hundred years ago. In the 1890’s the Chinese laborers had their own gold mine up this canyon and had kept it a secret from everyone in town. There had been an attack on their camp with most of them killed, but nothing was ever found. The locals assumed they buried it in a deserted mine shaft higher up the ravine, and these two guys were determined to find it. In the article they both bragged that they were close to finding it and all the townsfolk would know when they came driving down the main street in a brand new Cadillac convertible. I never saw any Cadillac driving up or down our road, but you never know. Heck, I don’t think either of them could even drive a car. We always considered the both of them a little eccentric and not firing on all cylinders. “Just a little eccentric?”

Our first log home was quite an accomplishment and a learning experience. The chainsaw mill was way too slow and not that accurate. We had to spend too much time hand planing the flats of the logs afterwards to blend the heights in with one another. The tractor we had bought had a set of forks in the bucket and a 50 gallon drum full of water on the back so it wouldn’t tip over. It could only pick up a couple of logs and was useless once we started making logs into units and loading trucks. But we finished our first home on time and pre-assembled the wall logs for him to look at. The owner loved it. We loaded all the logs on a semi-truck piece by piece with steel stakes holding it all together. When we got to LaPine he was so excited I thought his head was going to explode and die right there on the spot. We unloaded his kit by rolling each log one by one off the truck and into a big pile… what a mess. Then, hand-packed each log over to the sub floor and up on to the wall. Good thing we were young and strong because the logs weren’t that dry and were extremely heavy. The first lesson of our being in the log home business was… “Strong back, weak mind.” I can remember us packing the ridge beam, a green Douglas fir 6×12, on our shoulders up a ladder. An OSHA nightmare, for sure. Each log rafter went up the same way. Who could afford a boom truck? Fortunately no one got hurt and we had our first satisfied customer. Remember, this was one more than the snake oil salesman from Anderson had. We got our final payment once the logs were up and had money in our pockets and solid food in our bellies.

On the way back from Central Oregon we picked up a copy of their local Pennysaver classified magazine. In it was an ad for a mobile dimensional circle saw mill for sale in a town called Christmas Valley. You may have heard of this real estate scam aimed at innocent buyers from L.A. in the late 1960’s. The brochure showed tall pine trees in heavily wooded lots, with one to five acre parcels for sale for around $2000.00. In reality, it was nothing but wheat fields as far as the eye could see. And this place was a hundred miles from the nearest town and the nearest pine tree. “Can you spell remote?” Could this have been the snake man’s first business venture, before he got into log homes? Anyway, we couldn’t stand the thought of walking along pushing that chainsaw mill any longer. So, the next week we headed over the mountains to Christmas Valley and took a look at this contraption. The owner had welded a 50 year old circle mill to some I-beams and put it together on some old rusted truck axles to pull into the woods. His idea was to bring the mill to the woods and cut railroad ties, leaving a big mess once he was finished. Then, move on. I think he was up to no good being a pirate on the high seas and got caught stealing logs from the forest service. “The parrot on his shoulder should have given it away.” We made him some kind of offer of one of our cars, some cash and some payments. We had no idea of what we were getting into, but he took our offer. “Aaaargh!”

The carriage and sawmill were vintage cast iron parts of an old American #1 sawmill. The power plant was an old Wacusha industrial gas engine that connected with all kinds of belts and pulleys. It was the same sawmill you see in those old faded black and white pictures from the historical society and logging museums. I’m sure there were captions about donkey punchers, whistle punks and rigging slingers. “Hey Mom; that college degree you paid for, bet you never thought I’d be a donkey puncher?” Part of the negotiation, thank God, was to have this guy set it all up at our log yard in Jacksonville. Good thing, because we’d have never figured it out, being so mechanically gifted and everything. Now, when he fired this beast up and engaged the giant saw spinning like no tomorrow, we looked at each other like a deer looks in your headlights. No way any of us were going near it. “Did I mention there were no guards, plexi-glass or encased steel mesh protecting the operator?” When he asked who of us wants to mill the first log, we all took one step backwards and looked the other way.

Of course, there was no operator’s seat or booth or computer control room either. The sawyer just stood about two feet from the spinning saw blade and pulled on a wooden handle that made the carriage go back and forth through the saw. It was a two man operation as logs were rolled one at a time with a peavey onto the carriage. Sharp steel dogs would ratchet out and down on the log into the bark to hold it in place. Then, the sawyer would pull on another metal handle while turning it to the right and this would move the carriage bunks pulling the log forward. Once the log was ready for the first cut, you would ease the log into the spinning saw teeth and pull hard on the wooden handle. This handle applied friction to some sort of wheel covered with an asbestos material that connected it to more belts and pulleys. It was similar to pulling on a Rhino’s horn as it ran across the Kalahari, jerking and bouncing out of your hands. “You know that feeling.” The carriage was powered by a cable and pulleys, but without any brakes. So once you made the first pass, you’d better reverse the handle direction and bring it back before it jumped the tracks and crashed. Of course, we learned that lesson the hard way. With the peavey you’d flip the log over and continue to mill the other side, and then your helper would flip it off and down some log ramps on to some log dunnage. As antiquated as this old mill was, it was quite productive and extremely accurate compared to the chainsaw mill. The poor sawyer’s helper really worked his butt off, because he had to jump back and forth like a rabbit from the loading side of the mill to the unloading side while the sawyer just stood there. I liked to be the sawyer, even though I’m down to three fingers on each hand. “Just kidding, Mom.”

Being able to mill logs ten times as fast enabled us to build and re-tool the Nordic Prince into a corner notching saw. We put a pivot point in one section of track and used it to make our V-notch mortise and tenon notch. It worked perfectly. As I look back, almost everything we built was with logs or steel, and we were getting pretty good with chainsaws, cutting torches and welders. Our V-notch corner came from the Anderson company and was a butt and pass system, pretty similar to what most of the other companies were doing. A come-along pulled the corner together and compressed two rows of vertical gaskets. While the corners were tight, lagscrews were installed at three foot centers in countersunk and piloted holes. Two rows of gaskets were stapled in between each course of logs and it made for an air tight seal. It was a good system, and far better than most of the industry who used spikes and a sledgehammer. Big logs, hand-peeling and lagscrews were our edge. We also learned who was doing all of the hard work and who wasn’t in our company and with a little extra money we bought out a few guys to get it down to four partners. We also paid back Lance and his wife their home deposit, and I think they used it as a down payment on a double wide mobile home with log siding. “That had to hurt.”

Our new mill worked great for almost a month, and then it wouldn’t cut straight worth a darn. We tried new saw teeth, adjusted the wooden guides and increased the amount of water spitting on the blade. No one mentioned to us that the sawyer would be completely drenched and had to wear raingear all day. The water was like a lubricant and also kept the saw cool. After talking to some old timers, we found out that our saw needed to be hammered. That’s right, beat with a hammer like a cymbal, so the saw would spin straight at the right rpm. Fortunately, there was one guy in our area that still knew how to do it and had the tools and expertise. He was around eighty, a grumpy old dude that worked out of a shop behind his house. The good part was that he had a spare 48 inch saw blade, so we had two, one working while one was being hammered. I still don’t know what he was doing with that hammer. But, when he died about five years later we gave up on it and bought a new, portable band saw mill.

Hammered? A big motivator for all hard working log home builders is food and drink. “Right?” After finishing a kit or loading a container we always took the crew out for a free lunch, usually pizza or burgers. Even today, we barbecue every Wednesday during the summer to keep them all in good spirits and to think twice before taking that roofing job. Back then, our local Sizzler Steak House used to run an… ”All you can eat” beef rib lunch. If you’ve ever been there you know they cater to senior citizens and rather large people, not fat, you know, just large. We thought we’d make this day extra special by sneaking in a bottle of cheap bourbon, because… well…during our first few years, some days ended after lunch. After about ten plates of ribs and way too many off colored 7-Ups I was told we were completely out of control and needed to leave. Sizzler’s bouncer came over in his walker to try to calm us down or remove us as we chanted “More Ribs! More Ribs!”. It was one in the afternoon while we continued banging fists, glasses and plates to much more celebrating and banter. Finally we left, or were thrown out. I can’t remember. “Bounced from a Sizzler, that’s a first, and a moment to tell our kids about, and be proud of.”

Those first three homes kept us busy all summer and through the fall. With nothing to look forward to in log homes, we figured we’d go back into the woodstove sales or go get regular jobs. Unfortunately, Dennis had replaced us with his wife and brother from Seattle and they were all living like Al Pacino in “Scarface.” The worst part is that between the three of them they couldn’t sell a stove and the installation. Somehow, they didn’t understand how to treat people friendly or give a fireplace tool set away to close a sale on a complete system. Schrader was also having a major problem with their aluminum stove doors, as almost every unit experienced warping to where the doors wouldn’t close tightly. The owners were constantly either replacing the doors or trying to pop them back into place. Unfortunately, they would pop right back out once they got hot. I could see that Dennis and his wife were going sideways fast. They would eventually close all five stores and go bankrupt within the next twelve months. What a lesson of how to run a business that was for us. They lost everything they had and moved back home to Seattle.

Luckily for us, I sold a home a couple of days later and we were back in the log yard and back to work. This owner wanted us to build it on his site, not just make a kit, but a turn-key. David was in his fifties and came in driving an old VW Bug. He said he would be back in on Monday with a deposit. “Sure, don’t hold my breath.” When he handed me his business card it read that he was the C.E.O. of Bear Creek Corporation, which is the largest fruit grower and packing house for pears and fruit in Southern Oregon. Their Harry and David division sells thousands of gift boxes through mail order catalogs worldwide. “The guy’s rich.” When he came back in on Monday I asked him what was the deal with him driving that old VW. He said that it was for employee morale and drives it to work each day. Meanwhile, up at his home sits two Mercedes and a giant motor home. The diesel pusher even had video cameras to back up and park, but his wife still managed to back it into a tree. They lived in a huge house in Newport Beach California and had their own yacht docked nearby. This was to be their log getaway cabin on his 5000 acre cattle ranch in Southern Oregon. I remember how he would smoke cigarettes all morning, than switch to cigars in the afternoon, inhaling that smoke, too. It was another good lesson of living a long life. “Don’t inhale cigars all afternoon.”

Because this one job was to a turnkey stage of completion it kept us busy most of the winter and spring of 1980. His house was an authentic lodge style home that featured a large stone fireplace, antler fixtures, barn board wall coverings and a bear skin rug. I liked the cannon that sat on his fireplace mantel, and apparently could really fire a cannon ball. We got along great with David and he let us show his home to every potential customer that came around. He had no idea how important it was to us starting out and making a go of it.

To this day his home is still a center piece in our brochure and advertising. On one of our trips to look at jobsites and meet potential customers, we made a connection with the Georgia Pacific log sorting and chip plant in Chemult. We were authorized to mark house logs with spray paint and pick them out with a self-loading log truck before they were chipped and sent overseas. We were getting some good logs, being able to high grade from their vast log yard. It was also the first time we bought logs by the ton. “That’ll be twenty five tons to go, please. Paper or plastic sir?” We just didn’t have the money to get any kind of log inventory and stock up. Our yard in Jacksonville was behind a big hill and the sun never hit it all winter long. Believe me, it was frozen tundra each and every day and we were freezing our butts off. Most mornings our sawmill would be completely frozen and covered with icicles. Brian had spent a summer in Antarctica building a weather station, so he could relate. There, they couldn’t turn off any of the trucks or machinery, because it would freeze and be unable to start again. I was at the controls of the sawmill one morning, and I swear it was on the last log, when the old Wacusha engine just started to purr and revved up like she never had before. I figured we finally got most of the carbon burned off the valves. Wrong diagnosis. Right then a rod blew through the crankcase, oil was blowing out everywhere, and then it became still. It was quite a death dance for the old girl. “I was impressed.”

We were still selling a few log home packages to keep the four of us busy with Randy and Joe helping out when they could. Our problem was that we had an office in town and our log yard over ten miles away. Plus, we had no exposure to the general public other then the log-sided stove showroom and it wasn’t what we really offered. Plus, I was determined not to spend another winter in those near arctic conditions communicating with the leopard seals and penguins. On one of our deliveries to a jobsite in Shady Cove we noticed that Cedartown Lumber was going out of business. We stopped in and found out that the owner’s policy of just taking the top board off of each unit of lumber was not being adhered to. There were signs everywhere in his yard about no high grading the lumber and picking through every piece. You can’t blame them; we all do it at the lumber yard. Anyway, it was driving him crazy and he had enough. We got the owner of the property’s name and gave her a call that night.

Pearl was in her seventies and was a self made woman. She had bragged to me once about starting with a thousand dollar investment in the stock market, in the sixties, and now had just passed one million dollars. She lived like a bag lady and was convinced that the next Great Depression was just around the corner. Pearl lived in an old house down the highway about a mile away that you would swear was vacant. But, she was wonderful to us and wanted our little company to make it. Pearl didn’t ever listen to a stock broker’s recommendation, but researched every company’s earnings to debt ratio and future profitability. At the investment broker’s main office none of the girls would get up to help her, thinking she was a homeless person. But, one girl would always stop from her wire transfer duties and help her out. Pearl could be kind of tough with me, until she found out I had married that girl. I was in with her from then on and could do no wrong. I remember Tricia and I going over to her house one Christmas Eve, both of us weaving through the paths around bags of newspaper and boxes of rocks. Her paranoia about the next economic downturn kept her from having any friends around. She was a packrat and convinced that she would need some of this stuff before long, when the #/*! hit the fan.

Her property was ten acres and was an old turkey ranch years ago, now it was zoned industrial. Only two of the acres were rocked and the rest was a muddy quagmire. The ground was called White City sticky, which was black clay that nothing grew in and rock fill disappeared into. On the county records it showed she purchased it in 1951 for a whopping $110.00. Pretty useless ground for farming, but great for making log homes. The two acres were level ground, but more important, right on the main highway with something like twenty thousand cars going by a day. “Noisy, but busy.” Our work was cut out for us because we had to move our operation and set everything up. We improved our sawmill by purchasing a used diesel truck engine and built a shed roof over it. Our notching line and peeling racks also were covered, preparing us for the next rainy winter. Better wet, than frozen like the Jacksonville property.

We all decided that we needed a new office and showroom to showcase what we were doing. Our old office was history as Dennis was gone and it had been rented to an off road truck parts business. Pearl had agreed to a five year lease, adjusted for inflation, with the agreement that the new showroom would not be a permanent fixture and could be moved in the future. I don’t think she thought we’d last the first year. But, I was out to prove her wrong. “She must have got a copy of our future profitability and earnings report.” We picked a small home design called The Wilderness and modified it to have a cantilevered balcony, both gable and shed dormers and a steep chalet roof line. It totaled 1128 square feet and was a good looking log cabin. Little did we know of the excitement we had stirred up when we started stacking logs. There were TV crews and newspaper reporters all taking pictures and interviewing us. “I can’t lie, we loved all the attention.” The biggest problem was that none of us were getting any work done on the new showroom because of all the interruptions from the drive by traffic. You’ll never know how many old timers lived nearby, with too much time on their hands. They all had to tell us about how they or their father’s used to do it, and how we should be doing it. There was always boasting about peeling with spuds and chinking with moss and mortar. “Yep, used to walk barefoot five miles to school with a twenty foot log on my shoulder. You youngsters, you’re all a bunch of pussies.” At least we were making a statement in the area and creating a lot of interest in log homes. And, were all working real hard.

The challenging part was to set up the log yard, build the new office and continue to make kits to put money in the bank… to buy more logs. We knew we had to replace our tractor. Every time we loaded a home for delivery we had to rent a forklift for the day and most of the time the tractor was too clumsy or too slow. One morning a customer came in to say he was heading in to town to get us a cashier’s check for a home deposit. He said he would be back in a couple of hours because he needed to get a second check for a tractor he was buying. I asked what kind of tractor and he pointed to ours, but wanted a backhoe attachment with a quick release. Well, ours came with one but we never used it. I put on my best salesman’s hat and threw in our post-hole attachment to close the deal. He returned that afternoon with two checks and the one for the log home was payment in full. And, I didn’t even offer him a 5% discount. We must have looked trustworthy, or hungry. We locked the gate and took the rest of the day off. There must have been a lot of sawdust in the air that day. “Ribs anyone?”

These were the kind of things that happened the first two years that kept the ball rolling and everything moving in the right direction. Looking back, it was those small amounts of money coming in at just the right time that kept us all emotionally in check. We used the tractor money as a down payment on a Case front end loader that could unload log trucks, move heavy units and load semi-trucks. And of course we bought more logs, which we now regarded as our savings account. The new showroom was completed and had a sales office for myself, one for our designer, a kitchen and a great room. Ron had worked for a successful architect in town as an apprentice and did our plans on the side for extra money. He’s moved in, so we’re trying to keep him busy with plans and renderings for our next brochure. Ron was our age and excited to be part of our team. He was good at understanding log homes from the ground up and putting the extra details in our blueprints. He learned a lot in the beginning from some of his, or our mistakes, and learned to never let it happen twice. None of the other designers in our area knew anything about log home construction, so it was up to us to learn it and deal with all the building departments on the West coast. One of the mistakes I remember that I made, came from purchasing house logs from one of our logging friends. He had a contract to remove four loads of logs from the Diamond Lake campground, so they could expand the area and make room for more boaters and fishermen.

They were nice straight logs, and until we started milling them found out why they were such a good deal. Campers like to hang lanterns and string tarps. Each log must have had fifty assorted nails and spikes embedded into and underneath the bark. Some were over fifty years old and all reeked havoc on our circle mill and chainsaws. We were only able to use the top half of every tree and cut the rest of it into firewood, very expensive firewood.

Being out on the highway got us all kinds of exposure to sell different log components like fireplace mantels, porch kits and deck railings. One day an older contractor ordered a log entryway from me for a new custom home in the area. He would do the installation and fitting, so all it was to us were three twenty foot peeled logs. I think the total price was around $170.00. I’ll always remember that afternoon at the tavern, clinking beer mugs and bragging about it when one of us blurted out… “Can you believe that dipstick paid $170.00 for three measly logs?” Then we all laughed and toasted our beers. Of course, he was sitting in the corner with one of his buddies the whole time. He got up, tapped me on the shoulder and said in a deep voice… “Just make sure they’re delivered tomorrow morning, son.” Ouch!

Sam was an old veteran in the log home business. He had built a few kits from another company in the Santa Cruz, California area and was convinced that log Granny Houses were going to be big. He had lobbied the California Legislature, State and local building departments and our only industry’s national magazine… The Log Home Guide. Doris, who ran the magazine had a soft heart for Sam and wanted to see his dream of a log cabin for your parents behind your house take off. She was in the middle of her own venture out in Tennessee having all the big players in log homes donate cabins and buildings to her for the World Headquarters of Log Homes. I swear she would call me once a week pleading with us to build a home there. We hadn’t even sold a Homestead home more than 300 miles away, and this was like 2000 miles or more. She was like a pit bull nipping at my pants leg and would not take no for an answer.

Sam was also hounding us every minute about building his model home, a Granny House. We finally gave in, to help him on a single story 500 square foot cabin near Watsonville. His idea was to take a mobile home frame and build a sub floor on top of it. I made him a dealer and low price on the kit and hardly anything to come down to California and build the shell. He had told me all the permits were in place and to schedule a date to head South. The mobile home frame/floor was cut into the hillside and cant-levered over a dirt pad, it was not a model home location and I was not impressed. Only Joe and I went down for the construction and unloading and that was it. We rented a forklift to move the units around and a crane for one day to assemble the ridge beam and rafters. All the wall logs went up by hand, as usual. Joe was my helper that week and been with Tom and I from the beginning. He learned about log homes the same way we had and was a hard worker. Joe was a fun guy to hang out with and we both had a lot in common. Tragically, he died about ten years later in a four wheeler accident, racing around the dirt trails near Jacksonville. We all miss him and all the fun we had together. He was a pretty funny guy and loved to laugh. One of his younger brothers still works for us today. Kevin has been with us over fifteen years and is in charge of preassembling the log home packages and onsite construction.

At the end of the second day an inspector from the County Building Department showed up wanting to see the permit number. We gave him Sam’s name and number. We were told that night to continue building, that everything was in order… by Sam. By noon the next day the inspector was back and ordered us off the property and to stop work. That afternoon we went golfing at a nearby course. “Hey, we had room in my truck for two sets of clubs and we both loved the game. No good, but we loved it.” Again we were told to continue and again to stop work and leave. Golf again. Of course, same thing happened the next day. At least our game was improving. When it happened again a neighbor asked if we’d like to go sailing that afternoon. “Hmmm, golf or sailing?” His mom owned a small sail boat and we headed out in the Monterrey Bay for a wonderful day. This was living and we got to spend an afternoon skipping across the waves. By the final day, as we’re decking the roof, up comes the inspector with the local Sheriff ready to throw us in jail. We talked our way out of it and high-tailed it back to Oregon. Sam never did have a permit, but was trying to convince someone at the County that it was a temporary structure. I think we ended up sending two more log houses to his customers, but that was it. Doris was always trying to convince me to fly herself and a photographer out to California to cover Sam’s exploits. We liked the idea of being featured in an article for her magazine. I was willing, until she gave me an estimate of her expenses, than passed. I didn’t feel like paying for both of them to vacation in California for a week, staying at four star hotels and eating lobster tails.

We never did send a log home to Tennessee, for her world headquarters, but ran a few ads and were always listed in her Annual Buyers Guide showing all of the leading manufacturers. A few years later the magazine disappeared, nothing about the world headquarters was advertised and we all found out that Doris and her husband were living in the Cayman Islands. Is this a trend or is it just my luck? “What, something wrong with the food in Europe?” I was worried that they were not eating the best island food, or putting on the proper tanning lotion. She probably would have been very successful if she stuck with it, because now there are six national log home publications and they’re all doing very well. No world headquarters, but that’s OK. We all trusted her to lead our little industry in the right direction, but not to the Caribbean and numbered bank accounts. At least things were going better for us, so we bought out our fourth and got it down to three working partners at Homestead.

To keep busy we undertook all kinds of various projects. One weekend Tom and I bid to re-stain a log home in the area, not even one of our homes. It was extra money and a two day job. One of us was busy taping off windows and the other operating an airless paint sprayer. On the final day the owner drove us up to another log home that was partially completed. The bank had pulled the plug on the owner/builder because of the shoddy workmanship. I won’t name names, but it was the largest log home manufacturer at the time with mills in Nevada, Montana and Vermont. They had dealers in all fifty states and made every buyer a builder/dealer.

Their logs were peeled with a spiral de-barker and looked like barber poles. The wall logs varied between seven inches and eleven inches in diameter, but weren’t even beveled to match at their splices. A hardboard spline was set in a groove as each log was spiked together with gaskets. The owner must not have bought a level because the walls curved like a snake from top to bottom. Unfortunately, they had also spread outwards making the rafters too short, not reaching the ridge beam. Instead of starting over or re-notching the birds-mouth, he just added more spikes. The gaps were around four inches on each side and you could see all the spikes, some with six nailed in for each rafter. For his finishing touch he used the rough sawn sticker material that came as shipping pieces as the window and door trim. He just nailed it on, not even mitering it to fit. I learned why the banks in our area had given our customers such a hard time, the word was out. From then on they all required a general contractor’s signature and guarantee on the construction loan application.

Our Medford Chamber of Commerce started a department of tourism and wanted a Tourist Information Center to stop travelers heading North during the summer months. Their main office was downtown and partially hidden on a back street with no exposure. Patti was in charge of this department and was an outgoing, very personable person that was determined to put Medford on the tourism map. I got along with her right away. She had made an arrangement with the Veterans to use their parking lot in the park for this new information center. She contacted me about doing it with logs and wanted to keep it temporary and easily moved. We felt it would be beneficial to us to have that kind of exposure and we wanted to help them out, too. Any way we could get more of our color brochures and flyers into the hands of Californians on vacation was a good thing. They had the money and were on the move North. Patti and her volunteer staff said they would be open six days a week at the cabin and had already put up signs on the freeway directing people to it.

We picked our smallest model, called the Cub Bear and had it built on pier pads that spring ready for the season. It was a hit all summer. There were ribbon cutting ceremonies with the mayor and the state governor. One lady put on a stuffed bear costume and was hugging everybody. Medford’s theme was… “We Hug Visitors.” and this mascot was the Huggie Bear. She was kind of annoying to be around after a while. “Hey, Go hug somebody else lady.” That winter, the Veterans wanted to expand their park and held a fundraiser to buy bricks and build a big memorial. They notified Patti that the cabin had to go. Luckily, we sold the cabin to a customer in Nevada and sent it South. The Chamber was getting more tourists than ever and wanted a more permanent location and a bigger, single story log cabin this time. The new building had even a better location right at the South interchange of the I-5 freeway, just a few blocks from the Veterans Park. Again we built them a log home ready for late spring. There were even more tourists than before and it stayed a fixture there for the next five years. When the property was finally sold, a huge Fred Meyer, Hometown Buffet and Taco Bell were built on that corner. That model was jacked up and house-moved to a more rural location West of Medford, and that was the end of our involvement. The Chamber moved their headquarters to an old, empty bank location and I’m sure it’s been pretty quiet since. There’s just something about a log home that makes people stop and get out of their cars to check it out. It’s that Abe Lincoln thing, and Patti understood it.

There’s something about running a small company, you get involved with every customer and get your hands dirty quite often. I headed a job, building a log home in Sister’s Oregon, which is near Bend. My crew was three employees from the log yard, with Joe as my right hand man and a guy we referred to as the human forklift. We were all about the same age… in our twenties and pretty rebellious. When heading out of town we pulled a couple of old travel trailers to the job and compensated the crew with Per Diem to cover food costs. This way Homestead didn’t have the extremely high costs of $30.00 motel rooms or the inconvenience of hot showers and comfortable beds. On this trip three of us stayed in a trailer and one in a small camp tent. Every day at lunch the crew was broke, already having spent their $15.00 Per Diem, and I was buying a couple of pizzas or some fast food to keep them going. After work each day, and we were there for three weeks total, we’d head into town for dinner and then to the local tavern. “Got to wash that sawdust down.” Past the third night, nobody was eating dinner but me. Apparently, if you’ve only got $8.00 left, you surely don’t spend it on food. That would cut into your beer consumption. My crew had made their decision between beer and food and food had come in second. On the way back home they had united in spirit and asked me if Tom and I could just compensate them with beer out of town and they would feed themselves. “Oh, sure!” We didn’t give in to their wishes, but from then on we always referred to their out of town Per Diem as… “Beer Diem.”

I knew sales were one of the most important things to our business. We had to have money coming in and future projects to survive. I had done all the sales to this point and often got sidetracked on building projects in the log yard or away on customer’s jobsites. One of our friends was a successful car salesman and interested in coming to work for us. Shane knew how to differentiate between buyers and tire kickers and get them to commit and give us a deposit. Actually, he could be quite rude about someone wasting his time if they weren’t going to buy. But most people enjoyed his humor, enthusiasm and liked his straight forward attitude. Little did we know how good he was! Within his first year we went from six employees to over thirty. There were four building crews, a full time delivery driver, and a crew to manufacture the log home kits. Looking back, it was great, but completely out of control. It seemed every piece of equipment we owned broke down at some point that year. “I know both saw blades needed to be hammered.” It seemed each building crew had only one experienced lead man and three guys that couldn’t read a tape or operate a hammer. Every job was over budget and taking way too long. Remember, we were building almost every home to a closed-shell up and down the West coast. It was a lesson to Tom and myself, to train and hire better workers and buy newer equipment. It was a question you had to ask yourself… “Would you drive this truck fully loaded to that jobsite?”

During the early 1980’s we had three of our guys jump ship and start their own log home companies. Two of them were cordial departures with each building a couple of homes, then flicking it in. The third was ruthless. Len’s plan was to learn everything we knew and to copy it. He had already bought an old circle sawmill like ours. “His first mistake.” And was setting up a log yard about twenty miles away on his property. He had the nerve to drive all the way to Portland and convince two of our customers to be dealers for him. Everyone would be rich. Len had photo-copied all of our home plans in our brochure and hired an artist to draw him slightly different renderings. All of our standard details and floor plans were copied and his photo albums were pictures of our homes. He lectured me one day, that none of our plans were copywrited and to try to sue him, go ahead and try. “Can you spell… One arrogant ice hole?”

Len went so far as to include the same materials package, word for word, as in our price list. He just made sure all of his models were around a hundred dollars less, each. Then, he approached the three of us with this offer. We could stay in business if we gave him 50% of Homestead, otherwise we would be out on the streets, within the year. He even coaxed five of our guys from our log yard to mutiny, promising them each, if they stuck it out with him the first year. They’d all be making $100,000.00 a year. He matched the eight bucks an hour we were paying them, until then. All we ever heard about was how we were going down, and soon. The final touch was a billboard he rented about three hundred yards from our office directing them to his Log Cabin Shop. I felt like our Navy did during the attack at Pearl Harbor, totally blind-sided and betrayed. Luckily, he treated his customers and employees about the same as he treated us. He held an open house at his yard only to have it picketed by disgruntled customers, driving his buyer’s away. We put up with a lot of negative things said about us for another five years, and then he flicked it in, too. Tom and I have always tried to take the high road and to promote log homes, and not put anyone or any company down. I’d always tell people to go check them out and see what different things we do and to compare the kit, apples to apples, and dollars to dollars. I was never bitter about the guys leaving us, I mean it was a hundred thousand dollars! Most of them came back, looking for their job back.

South of Eureka on the Northern California Coast is the small retirement community of Fortuna. As I arrived for a five day supervision, to get the wall logs up, I was surprised to see the jobsite was in a subdivision of upper end homes. Each one was on a half acre lot. Tom and I have gotten pretty used to driving up long, washboard gravel driveways to house pads cut in to the hillside, miles from nowhere. That is very typical of a rural log home site. It was familiar though, that with three helpers we had to hand pack each and every log 40 yards to the sub floor, up on the scaffolding, then up on the wall. After five days of this extreme workout, I was completely done and ready for some rest. Lee, the owner, asked me if I’d like to go flying with him in the morning before I drove home to Medford. “Why not? He seemed like a good guy.” When we arrived at the local airfield I got to see what we were flying in. It was a vintage WWII Navy airplane. A trainer that had two seats, one behind the cockpit. It looked brand new, but was completely reconditioned. Even though Lee was in his seventies he still flew in half a dozen air shows around the West, and this was his pride and joy. During the war he was the leader of a task force in the Pacific that hunted Japanese submarines. These airplanes intercepted the subs from triangulation buoys and spotted them from the air. Then, they sent in PT Boats and Destroyers to do the dirty work of using depth charges and to take them out. They were very successful and helped win the war in the Pacific. Lee was a pleasure to be around and had some great stories about the Pacific conflict.

As he fired this beast up on the runway, I started to have second thoughts. The noise and vibration was more like revving up a hotrod or dragster, not like any plane I’ve been in. As he punched the throttle and let off the brakes my head shot backwards and we were airborne instantly. So much for us taxiing down the runway and getting cleared for takeoff. “Please put your seat in the upright position, sir.” I swear we had just taken off from an aircraft carrier. Well, we buzzed his log home so I could get some pictures, than proceeded to fly some of his maneuvers he did at the shows. I was told to watch the horizon, through some old headphones, and then instantly we were flying upside down. I think he enjoyed flying this way or just possibly hearing me scream like a little girl. We did this a few more times and then headed straight up. Finally he began to pull back on the joystick and we did the biggest loop you’ve ever seen. I don’t know the exact terminology for some of these tricks, but they were a little more intense than the Eggbeater ride at our County Fair. And I usually get sick on that one, but not this day. It was quite an experience and I could see the adrenaline rush you can have from flying something like this. Thanks to Lee and all the brave men of my father’s generation for what they did to preserve our freedom. They’re a tough bunch and a lot of them died fighting for what they believed in. “What a day we had together!”

We’d been packing logs on free supervisions for so long that we were determined to find an alternative before our backs went out. Few of our customers wanted to spend the thousand dollars on a boom truck rental for the first week of stacking wall logs. Typically, we rented a sign truck for a day, with an operator, to hang the roof system. But, the wall logs and second floor joists went up by hand. Most laborers were making about six dollars an hour, so it didn’t pencil out. Tom and I came up with an idea for a portable crane that would break down and fit in the back of a pickup truck. It rolled around on the sub floor, had a telescoping boom and an electric winch to lift each log. It was slow but did the job without any lifting. The down side was that you were constantly running over power cords and the many obstacles in building a home. It was heavy, but so were the logs and you really didn’t want this thing to tip over. Once we bought our first boom truck, an old line truck, we never looked back and never took this contraption to another job. We loaned it out a few times to home owners where time wasn’t an issue. It’s now rusting away in a warehouse somewhere in our logyard.

The Jackson County Expo is where everything is held in Southern Oregon. That’s where you’ll see the county fair, the rodeo, concerts, livestock awards, bazaars and every car and RV show in the valley. They put on a big home and garden show each year that showcased many of the businesses in our area and called it the Expo. KOBI TV contacted us one summer about assembling a log home inside the main arena building as the main attraction. We had to pay for our space and it wasn’t cheap. They gave us a forty eight hour window to erect an 1800 square foot model that was already pre-sold up to Washington State. We worked like dogs in three, eight hour shifts, around the clock until the doors opened Thursday morning for a four day show. I think almost everyone at Homestead worked on this home at some point. Our crew put “Extreme Home Makeover” to shame. I remember working most of the shifts and especially operating our old boom truck in the building. I couldn’t quite get my depth perception of how close the end of the crane jib was to the building’s fifty foot ceilings. I know, because I left so many black marks on the white insulation that you couldn’t count them all. Nobody noticed them but me, but I’m sure they’re still there. I also kinked my neck so bad from looking up for so long that I couldn’t move my head for a week without turning my entire body.

Honestly, I don’t remember much of the show when it opened. I know I was there the whole time, but probably sleep walking and babbling on incoherently. “My wife says, what’s new?” We gave up completing the tile roof and dormers, but I heard it looked great, all furnished and decorated. A local cabinet shop, furniture dealer and floor covering store chipped in with display products to finish it all off. I’m not sure how many thousand people went through our house and checked it out, but it was a lot. We were all proud of what we had accomplished and a lot of our friends came by to cheer us on. Unfortunately, disassembling all the materials and trucking it back to our yard took almost as long, and of course had to be completed immediately after the show. That next week we all came to the same conclusion. “Never again, for only four friggin days!”

In the mid 1980’s we were corresponding with an importer from Japan to send log cabins over there. Harumi had lived in the SF Bay area, but was back in Tokyo with a successful antiques business. Her store was full of Japanese antiques, with Samurai swords, murals and lots of really old antiquities. “How do you say extremely expensive stuff in Japanese?” She was fluent in both languages and had contacted us about a quote for sending four log cabin kits to Japan, two of them as model homes. Japan’s economy was thriving against our weak US dollar and they had money to burn. The trend was that city people were moving to the country and wanted weekend cabins away from the mega-city called Tokyo. Most Japanese loved our western movies and culture and log cabins seemed to express that way of living. And to them they were inexpensive, even with the shipping costs half way around the world.

Harumi and one of her friends, who was also getting a model, traveled the Northwest visiting four or five log home manufacturers. The style of log they were interested in was a three-sided profile, flat to the inside in Pine or Cedar. Homestead had an arrangement with a Cedar, log sorting yard about a half mile down the road. So we picked the biggest and straightest logs they had and had produced a few Cedar kits over the years. The day our guests arrived, Shane and I picked them up at the airport and toured around six different homes and our facility. Our log inventory in our yard was trivial, but what we could afford at the time. Now, Medford was a hub of activity in lumber and plywood manufacturing. Well over a dozen sawmills were operating, most with three shifts sending products nationwide and overseas. As we were driving by one of the largest sawmills with decked logs stacked forty feet high and as far as the eye could see, Shane blurted out jokingly… “This is where we keep our extra logs.” I almost choked as both of our Japanese guests responded,… “Ahh So, very good.” We couldn’t help it that they couldn’t take a joke or know that he was just kidding.

Well, we got the contract, not because of the quality of our product, our huge log inventory or all the great things we said, but because we were the cheapest. The arrangement was to send four shipping containers with a cabin in each, and a fifth that had all the various, miscellaneous products. It was loaded with windows, doors, roofing, hardwood flooring, kitchen cabinets, light fixtures, furniture and woodstoves with chimney pipe. “Don’t tell me we forgot the kitchen sink?” They had purchased round trip airline tickets for Shane and I and we agreed to work ten days, building two of the models and training two crews. I felt that if we could make these first few log homes work out smoothly, I was sure they were going to order many more cabins.

We had never loaded forty foot overseas shipping containers, so it was all a learning experience. Basically, we made all the banded units three and a half feet wide by seven feet high, put them in through the doors, than plunged them forward with a long pole. We would put in two more units and jamb every available space with log siding and lumber. The shipping company would give us two hours to load each container and then they were trucked back to the port of Portland. Each trailer would get fumigated, aired out and loaded on a barge for the Far East. Because Japan was sending the U.S. so many TV’s and electronics, containers were piled up all along the West coast or sent back empty. The shipping costs going to Japan were very inexpensive. It was a back haul and Harumi took advantage of it.

Shane and I were excited about our trip and considered it an adventure in a supervisory role. Unfortunately, it turned into a marathon of hard, physical work. And our car salesman was not that accustomed to hard work, or anything beyond riding in the back seat listing off that year’s model’s features. I remember that on the ten hour plane ride to Tokyo I was seated next to an Oriental college student. Right off the bat I asked him if he was going back home to Japan for the summer. In a very angry tone he responded “I’m Chinese” and never spoke another word on the flight. “Sorry about that!” Our first day was spent unloading and organizing the fifth container. After loading a truck, we had to drive it to one of the jobsites and unload it. In Japan you drive in the right seat, shift gears with your left hand and drive in the left lane. It was like backing a trailer down a boat ramp using only your mirrors. All of the roads were way too narrow and some corners had fisheye mirrors on posts. You know, like in the supermarket or at Seven Eleven. I still don’t know how we weren’t involved in a fatal car wreck or at least ended up head first in a rice paddy. We had to keep reminding each other…”Wrong lane, wrong lane!” The next four days were spent hand-packing logs with a helper and a toryo, the head contractor. I remember asking the toryo to help out with the rafters by climbing up a ladder to the ridge beam. Instead, he showed off by shimmying up the main post and pulling himself up on top of the beam. His web-toed carpenter shoes helped him grip the log with his feet and toes, plus he had the agility of a monkey. To my surprise, he gave me a new pair of them on the last day to take back to Oregon. Mine don’t seem to grip as well as his did that day, but they still looked cool.

From there we drove half way across Japan to the site of the second model home. As we’re driving through some rice fields a small creature suddenly dashed across the road in front of us. Shane asked Harumi what in the world was that animal. And she replied it was a Japanese squirrel, common to the area. Shane said jokingly, “My wife makes the best squirrel pie!” Again, it was “Ah so, very good.” No wonder I’ve never seen a Japanese stand up comedian on TV. Harumi’s son, Brian was in high school in California, but was spending the summer with her as our helper. His ability to translate our instructions to the workers on both jobs was priceless. Plus, we got a better idea of their customs and the attitude of each toryo and their helpers. On the drive through Tokyo, Brian was determined to eat lunch at a McDonald’s restaurant. We searched for over two hours to Brian’s disappointment, but couldn’t find one. Harumi suggested Japanese fast food and we pulled into one. It was a buffet line, but all the food was raw and Shane and I were getting nervous. We filled up our plates with all sorts of raw meats, vegetables and cooked rice and then went through the cashier. Fortunately, at every table there was a built in Hibachi grill and exhaust hood. You’d cook everything at the table dipping the meats and veggies in various sauces, while the entire restaurant filled with smoke. It was all you could eat and we were in Heaven thinking this is the greatest place ever. We ate like grunting pigs. Harumi said they only stay in business here, because the Japanese eat mainly the rice and vegetables. We Americans, would eat it to Chapter Eleven bankruptcy within a month, and we tried.

Four days working, one day driving and we’re back to work on the next home. Now in Japan, newer facilities have American toilets, but by and large most are the traditional oriental style. There would be stalls, but no doors and no privacy. There’d be guys squatting over a hole in the floor and doing their thing right out in the open. “Which way to the American toilets, please?” The toryo on this next job had twelve helpers for me and the biggest truck crane I’d ever seen. You’d have thought we were building a skyscraper instead of this small two storey cabin. Honestly, I liked having the extra helpers and with Brian translating we were very productive and finished a day early. I had the only chainsaw, so when anyone yelled… “Cut-Oh, Cut-Oh”, that meant I was needed. The toryo and I had a friendly competition to see who could cut a square tenon on the end of a round log the fastest. Me with a chainsaw and him with an Oriental hand saw. I have to admit I won, but just barely. The Japanese men were very competitive and out to prove how much better they were than us, Americans. “Down, Ninja boy.” When you heard… “Bolto, Bolto”, that meant something needed to be lag-screwed together or bolted. After a hard days work we’d relax by watching Japanese baseball on TV. Because we never picked up much of their language. It was the only show we understood. We would always be rooting for the Hiroshima Carps, the Yokohama Tigers or Nagasaki Bombers. We loved the TV ads, because they’re mostly for beer, liquor or cigarettes. Our favorite was an Olympic swimmer doing laps, then hopping out of the pool, lighting a cigarette as bikini clad girls would swarm him. “I can swim more laps, because I smoke Winstons.” I think that’s what he said. They were hilarious. At the end of the job the Japanese owner bought us a fancy dinner, got us drunk on Russian Vodka, and tried to buy us a monkey to take home with us. “You think we could have snuck him on the airplane? Darn.”

It paid off. Over the next seven or eight years we sent over seventy five log cabins and homes to Harumi and a couple of other importers. Our visit to Japan had been successful and we had begun a great overseas business relationship. We were getting good at loading containers and had devised a cable choker system so it was easy for them to unload the entire trailer with a forklift. I went back to Japan with Tricia a few years later to see all the different homes and meet with our customers. This was the leisurely trip I had looked forward to the first time, being tourists and exploring their culture and landmarks. Tricia, thought Japan to be overly crowded and congested. To this day, she considers that week not a vacation, but a work week. But, all the Japanese customers treated us like ambassadors and welcomed us with dinners and warm sake the entire time.

One of our marketing strategies over the years was to participate in one day log home seminars up and down the West Coast. One of the national log home magazines put them on and featured guest speakers, slide shows and a dozen or so log home manufacturers, or their local representatives. A show in Los Angeles would not normally be on our schedule, but we decided to be a part of it anyway. One of the people we talked to and apparently impressed was an architect from Santa Barbara. He called us a few weeks later, back in Oregon, and was flying up to see our operation and begin working drawings. I’m sure that Shane planned on driving him across town to see our extra logs. The blueprints were for a big, ranch-style log home for a client that he would not disclose any more information on. The plan process took around a month and I finally got it out of him, that the home was for Sylvester Stallone.

The contract was for Homestead to manufacture a 7200 square foot log home kit and erect it in Thousand Oaks, California. The floor plan featured a 2000 Square foot master bedroom, commercial (restaurant style) kitchen, workout room and all the amenities for the rich and famous. It was a one bedroom. Sly had purchased a thirty acre cattle ranch and was converting it to a polo ranch. He planned on reselling it to polo people, because if you’re into polo, you’d better have a lot of money. The existing ranch house had been remodeled; a big polo field, practice polo field, horse Jacuzzi and new stables for 40 polo ponies were all erected. The entire property was irrigated and planted with shrubs, flowers and trees and his sloping jobsite had a huge pad cut into a hill with panoramic views to the South. The project would include us building the main house, two guest houses and a large eight car garage. All the buildings were to be built by Homestead with big, hand-crafted logs to a closed shell stage. Finished on the outside and framed on the inside, with their contractor completing the rest.

Unfortunately, the Ventura County Building Department had never seen log home working drawings and was dragging their feet with Sly’s permit. The architect was told to start the foundation even without the county’s signature. Orders from Sly were to begin without a permit, because well… he’s Sly. The house foundation was formed and ready to pour. We were informed to ship the main home package to the jobsite and send a crew down, ASAP. “Dejavu.” The main house took eleven semi-trucks with trailers, and we needed to be there to do all of the unloading and stacking of units. The jobsite was steep so there were materials everywhere, and no place to get vehicles around. It was a mess. Our plan included purchasing a used Chevy Suburban so a six man crew would be able to go together on the twelve hour drive. We hauled three travel trailers and our old 1950 Kenworth boom truck to the site. No tents this time, but plenty of Beer Diem. The crew would be working ten, eight hour days in a row, than drive home and have four days off. In reality we would spend Monday driving down, work ten days and drive home that night, getting in at around three or four in the morning. “Hey boys, we’re hanging with Sly. Who wants to go?”

It was on our first trip to Thousand Oaks that we met Frank. He was a childhood friend of Sly’s from Philadelphia and would be the foreman for all the buildings. Frank looked like Sly, but was much shorter in height. He also had the same swagger of; I’m a celebrity, or at least a wannabe. Frank let us know about all the famous neighbors around the hillside. He said he knew stars like Dean Martin, Sophia Loren and Tom Selleck. Sly had been in the movie, “Tango and Cash”, with Curt Russell and been to his log home in Colorado. And was determined to one up him and Goldie Hawn on this big log home. “Just a little friendly competition among celebs.” About five miles down the road a new golf course was under construction, called Sherwood Country Club. For about a mile of roadside in each direction were hundreds, maybe thousands of full grown live oak trees that had been dug up, crated and now replanted around the golf course. We were told it was the most expensive course built, to date. The initiation fee was something like $700,000.00 and this was in 1989. Greg Norman hosted his “Shark Shootout” there for a few years and now it’s the home of Tiger’s golf tournament, the “Target World Challenge”.

Sherwood, California was famous for the setting of a famous black and white movie filmed in the late 1930’s. Errol Flynn played Robin Hood and Olivia De Haviland played Maid Marion. It was before my time, but I still love those kinds of movies. A lot of the filming was around the nearby area now called Westlake Village. Just over the coastal range was the town of Malibu. It was the who’s who A-List of sports figures and celebrities, living just north of Hollywood. We were the Jed Clampetts and Jethro’s from Southern Oregon. “Whooooooie, Ellie Mae! Granny’s ah fixin sum possum stew fer supper!”

The main house was the first to be built and was going along fine until we got to the log roof framing and building the intricate gable dormers. Sly would show up about every two weeks to see the progress, chase young starlets around the property and play polo with some friends. You knew when Sly was coming because Frank would become very nervous and make sure there were a lot of his workers visible. Even though most of the time they would be reading the paper or taking naps. Frank must have told us about a dozen times to never look Sly in the eye, but look down and keep working. Poor Frank, we would stop each time we saw Sly and talk to him and answer his questions. He was intrigued about how we scribed and notched the logs together, and I know appreciated all the hard work we were putting into his project. We were the only guys putting in long hours and in a hurry to get our work done. Sly traveled in an entourage with three black Chevy Suburbans, following his black Mercedes. If you didn’t know, you would have thought the President had arrived, or at least some important foreign dignitary. Apparently, Sly couldn’t read blueprints to well, or had too much on his mind. He could only visualize what the house would look like once it was built. Our crew did an impressive job on the multi-gabled log roof, so it was disheartening on our first day back from a ten day week, that Sly wanted to change the roof. We had to remove everything we had done and install two more log headers underneath the rafters. We were reminded of our first day with Frank to never question Sly or say it couldn’t be done. At the end of the ten days all of the roof beams were removed, headers installed, rafters installed and remodeled to perfection. On the next trip south we were informed Sly liked it the old way and to build it back the way it was. “What a waste of our time.” This was our inauguration of working with Hollywood celebrities.

A similar situation happened with the windows, doors and skylights. We ordered all custom wood Pozzi windows and French doors, and had them all installed and meticulously trimmed and fitted. Sly would show up and change his mind making us tear out doors and replace them with windows and vice versa. After a while we were scared to finish out anything until he had seen it first. There were over fifteen skylights in the main house and I’m sure more than half of them got installed twice. He even made us move two of the main log support posts in the living room because it interfered with his view of the big screen TV. “Well, even I can understand that!”

Our partner Brian, had become fed up with Frank, refused to go back to Sly’s jobsite and decided he was going out on his own, building log homes. Tom tried heading down on the next ten day shift, but also had an ugly confrontation with the Rocky wannabe, and was not going back. I finally went down with the crew and learned to stand my ground with Frank. He was like a Doberman/Poodle mix. Not much of a watch dog, but could be a vicious gossip! If he sensed weakness you were through. Ron (Ozzie) had been with us a couple of years and stepped up to take the lead position on the homes. He could also handle all of the confrontations with Frank. Ron had worked from the ground up with Homestead and understood the process and was a good leader. He had the respect from his crew and got along great with Tom and myself. He was one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen and just put in his twenty fifth year with our company. Kelly started the same time as Ron and runs our entire manufacturing and log building operation. I don’t know what we’d do without the both of them. They make it all happen here at Homestead, and it seems to always run pretty smooth.

About half way through building the main house, three more foundations went in. A 2000 square foot guest house was perched above it and to the East. Remember, the main house had only one bedroom and that was, you know who’s. A small, 700 square foot Cub Bear cabin was built to the West and was a place for his bodyguard to stay. The cabin had a concrete basement underneath that was filled with backup diesel generators, security systems and tons of electronic surveillance equipment in case the compound came under siege. The eight car garage was built a little higher on the hill, and was the last project. All of the buildings were built out of logs and it kept us there another three months. Frank tried to get bullet proof windows for the main house, but never did. I’m certain Sly was worried about being attacked. You and I would probably storm the place if we had to sit through all of his “Rocky” movies back to back. “Sorry about that Sly, that had to hurt!”

Stallone had a pink Italian villa in the Hollywood hills and loved the color. All of the log home projects were roofed and ready for a natural, honey colored finish similar to most of the homes we’d done. Interior decorators were busy sashaying about the place and we’d got wind that Sly was going to paint everything pink, inside and out. I mean, paint the logs pink! Frank actually questioned the plan and held his ground about any color but pink. “Probably didn’t look him in the eye, though.” Well if it couldn’t be pink than it would be white. Not just any white, but mixing a new log stain color from Sashco, a leading manufacturer in Colorado. It was marked on every five gallon bucket… “Stallone White”. It was the bright white you see in those laundry commercials, which pile is the whitest? It was so bright inside with all the skylights I needed sunglasses upstairs in the master bedroom or had to squint my eyes. I could barely make out the large, stuffed lion in his bedroom. “Doesn’t everyone have one of those?”

Everything was white. White carpeting, white-washed hardwood flooring, white sheetrock walls and two white quartz rock fireplaces. Later, Sly had student artists hand paint the quartz to look like river rock. It took them weeks to get the natural effect. I think they were both featured in Playboy’s best art college party schools, from my vantage spot. The downstairs main fireplace had a cascading waterfall above the mantel. Water was pumped into an upper reservoir and overflowed down the rock face. I liked it. I don’t think Sly liked it, though. One day workers arrived and covered all the rock with giant slabs of green, jade-like marble. They kept the waterfall and it looked great. I couldn’t help it, but when the pump kicked on it reminded me of the time my toilet overflowed.

The year we were there was a draught year and a lot of the neighboring properties wells were going dry. Sly’s was one of them. He was trying to irrigate 30 hillside acres and a polo field from one well. Even with a couple of steel water storage tanks, two water trucks could not keep up and ran back and forth nonstop. Still it wasn’t enough because most of the trees and shrubs were dying. Under pressure from Sly, workers applied a green dye to the polo field and continued every other week, anything to keep it from looking dead, which it was. It looked green and that was all Frank cared about. Another interesting thing that happened that fall was every night for one week we’d watch the World Series, with the SF Giants playing the Oakland A’s. It was the first time these two Bay area teams played each other for the title. The restaurant we were in started to shake. This was the year an earthquake rocked Candlestick Park during one of the games, and sent everyone fleeing for cover. The epicenter was near Santa Cruz, and we felt it all the way down the coast to Thousand Oaks. I know I felt it, because my beer spilled.

There were four or five guys working at the site from Great Britain and they didn’t do much, but were always involved in the wiring or reading the paper. They were referred to as Limey’s. All the other workers were Hispanic and they took care of the horses, maintenance, all the landscaping and all the masonry. There were retaining walls and rock work everywhere, and they were good at it. None of them spoke English and nobody spoke Spanish, so it was like building the Tower of Babel. Frank never showed up before noon, so nothing was getting done on their end. One day we noticed the place deserted with no one in sight. A white pickup was parked near the main house. It was a Building Department Inspector but they all thought it was someone from the I.N.S. Even the Limey’s scattered up the hillside and hid until he left. “Can you spell undocumented workers?”

One of the great things about California over Oregon is that they have city and county owned golf courses, everywhere. In San Diego, they have the two famous championship courses at Torrey Pines, and in 2008 they hosted the U.S. Open. Westlake Village was about ten minutes South of Sly’s jobsite and their city golf course had lights. I guess everyone spends they’re daytime hours either at work or stuck in traffic. Anyway, at night they’d light up nine holes, so you could tee it up in the dark. We indulged ourselves about a half dozen times and couldn’t get enough of it. The one thing about night golf is, you have to concentrate more on hitting the fairway, because the rough was not lit up. If you missed it, consider that ball lost to the golf Gods. Plus, your depth perception was way off as everything looked much farther away then it really was. I remember one night playing with Joe and Ron, as Joe was laying up to a par four after a bad tee shot. He hit it a little thin, ( a Twiggy ), only to see the guy up on the green, bent over and cussing. Joe had nailed him right in the back from about a hundred and fifty yards, nice shot. It was dark, so we snuck over to a different hole, abandoned his ball and finished our round. “Welcome to California!”

Joe was asked to stay on and help them finish everything on the four projects. We agreed that it would help to make sure things got done right and continue a good working relationship. He was promised cash, around $25.00 per hour, which was a big increase over what we were paying him. He finally found out why every one of the workers left the jobsite every other Friday for an hour, emptying the place. Frank had an arrangement for each of them to cash their checks and pay him $10.00 per hour off the top. Like Joe, if you made $25.00 per hour you got paid $35.00 and Frank got ten. No wonder nobody was in a hurry to finish the homes, especially Frank. It’s probably the way things are done, if you live in Philadelphia or New Jersey. Where’s Tony Soprano when you need him? “You gotta problem wid the way we do bizness?”

After all the homes were finished and the polo field an unnatural shade of green, Sly decided to sell the ranch to an international financier. He was able to mark up the price an extra million dollars because a celebrity slept there, him. Frank had promised us this was the first of many log homes he’d build for the rich and famous, but had a falling out with Sly once it was sold. “I wonder if someone spilled the beans about the ten dollar skim job?” We never did hear back from him, but sipped champagne when we got back to Oregon. We were so happy to be working for regular folks again. Afterwards, we bought out Brian, who had gone out on his own, and it was down to the two of us, Tom and myself. “So much for our fifteen minutes of fame and being in a Rocky movie!”

The best brochure wins. From the earliest days I’d sent away for brochures from other log home manufacturers, especially the successful ones. Most people don’t realize that this business is a mail order business, trying to get your catalogue out to the public and on their coffee tables. It may take five years or more for some of our customers to get their property, have the utilities installed and be ready to build. But they’ve made their mind up to build a log home. You don’t have to talk them into logs, just get them to use our logs and building system. Our plan has been to have the best brochure and to show as many color pictures as possible. And keep it simple. Beautiful designs, what is included, what is the price and have the lowest price?

Each printing usually has a three to five year shelf life and then we’re out taking new pictures for the next one. I think we’re on our seventh brochure since that first six dollar black and white one, that we inherited. We usually sell the booklet and pricing pages through the mail at what our printing and mailing costs are, because we are certainly not just trying to sell our catalogue. One big mistake I made in 1982 was to have our brochure a 1983 calendar, featuring homes for each month of the year. We sold a lot of them in the fall and into the winter, but couldn’t give them away after that. They were dated. Actually, we did give most of them away and probably threw a few away. I might have even started a fire with a few. I knew I screwed up by not having girls in bikini’s at least standing on the front porch of each home.

Sometimes we needed to take pictures before the homes were landscaped, which happened quite often. I remember a beautiful model we built just West of Portland and I wanted to feature it as our “Dutchman II”. The house looked great but the surroundings were dirt and lumber scrap piles. Just before the brochure went to press, I asked if they could fix the picture by adding grass around the exterior. You know, to look natural. The printer said no problem. Of course, we never proofed the copy and printed thousands of the booklets. From then on we were constantly asked “What planet is this house on?” Actually, it was a similar shade of Stallone’s polo field, kind of a fluorescent green. I wanted to get some of these stories on paper before I forgot them all, and I’m sure a few are embellished and distorted, but that’s the way I remembered them. Anyway, that is the first ten years of Homestead Log Homes and I hope you enjoyed it. We certainly did.