My father’s house

This summer, my dad, he one of the “Greatest Generation,” passed away after a full life. He died in the home he built with his own hands for our family in 1958: a three-bedroom cape on the south shore of Long Island, about 3 miles north (as the seagull flies) of the Great South Bay.

He built it with my Uncle Bill, a tile contractor, whose three sons also later went into the kitchen and bath construction business, and my godfather, a local plumber. It took them most of the summer of 1958, and its completion just preceded my arrival in the family next March of ’59. We lived next to my Uncle Bill, who lived next to my grandparents, who in turn lived next to my Aunt Barbara and Uncle Don. The property for all of the kids came from a turkey and duck farm operated by my grandparents. Long Island used to be famous for its duck.

Since my mom has been gone for a few years now, this summer was the end of the line for this home in its service to our family. It will be sold, re-furbished, re-painted and readied for a new family, and I hope they fill it with love and another 50 years of memories.

Going through the many family papers, I came across the bill of sale for most of the materials used for our cedar shake home from Bayport Lumber Co., which is now a ProBuild unit. Back in ’58, it was run by Henry and Walter Haab, and carried the slogan “We Serve Those Who Build.” There was no apparent need for additional info like a street number or zip code, let alone a website: The phone number was enough — Bayport 8-3800.

The cost of materials for the wood frame house, excluding kitchen and bath cabinets, came to just under $5,800, which was a large sum at the time. Included in the product list were Andersen basement windows, Kwikset door locks, a Bilco basement door and 1,200 sq. ft. of Ponderosa (knotty) pine paneling. That paneling was everywhere in the house!

That cape survived many hurricanes, some heavy snow on the roof, two brush fires (the pine barren woods of Long Island are prone to wild fires every decade or so) and of course the ’60s and ’70s with two teenagers growing up inside its walls.

When I am forced to recall a soothing, happy memory in order to briefly escape the hectic pace and stress of the current world, I imagine myself hopping on my Schwinn Sting-Ray bike on a sunny Saturday morning and pedaling down the driveway out to find my neighborhood friends.

I keep thinking about the “We Serve Those Who Build” company mission of Bayport Lumber, and how building is so ingrained in our country’s history and psyche.

It’s in Home Channel News’ psyche too. If you expand and rephrase it just a little to say, “We Serve Retailers, Dealers, Owners, Operators, Wholesalers and Distributors who serve those who build,” you would hit the nail on the head.

Of course, we all utilize more than a phone number and a paper bill of sale to conduct our business these days, but the sum of all the ingredients used to build and maintain our houses hopefully adds up to the creation of a home. Just like all the ingredients that went into my father’s house.

— Jim Reynolds
jreynolds@homechannelnews.com