April 28, 2008. It's 9:30 PM and much too late for tea. I recently finished "reading" Historic Photos of Albuquerque
(ISBN 978-1596523760), available at the local library. Seeing pictures of how the city formed is fascinating and adds some historic context to where we're living now. When we bought our Ridgecrest-area home from a friend, she also had a book. It was given to her a few years earlier by the man who built our house 60 years ago. It is the annotated photo album of our home being built in 1948, about where HPofA left off. I don't know his name or his location, but am grateful for this bit of history for the place I truly call home.
The Story of The Home
In the summer of 1948 my folks had been renting a house in Albuquerque for the past five years, but the owner was now requiring that we buy the home, or move out so someone else could buy it. My dad who was a "woodworking handy man", asked some friends of his (who were school teachers and had no employment during the summer) if they would help him build a house. They said yes, so dad asked an architect friend of his if he had some "spare" three bedroom house plans dad could borrow. The architect showed dad a set of plans dad liked very much, but the architect said that they were specially drawn for a customer, and really couldn't be used again. Dad was very disappointed. But the architect took the plans and held them backwards up against a sunlit window, and the reverse image of the house plans were visible... and the architect told dad he could build "that house" if he wanted. And that's the house we built as shown on the following pages.
As you can see in the pictures, there was hardly any other homes in the area at that time... Albuquerque hadn't expanded very far to the east as yet. In a picture on the last page of our "construction project" you can just barely see Highland High School being built about seven blocks to the east of our location with the fuzzy Sandia Mountains in the background. In those days Albuquerque had just 4 secondary schools, Albuquerque High, St. Marcy's High School, Menaul School, and the Indian School, so Highland was just the second public high school in town.
The house was very special to us, with the "non-squeaky" pre-drilled hardwood oak floor, and the autographed rat trap (marked by a visible nail head) embedded in the concrete porch by the front door. Fifty three years later it was a real treat to come visit the old homestead and see that the nail head in the front porch was still visible, and that there were only two places in the house where the floor squeaked. I was especially intrigued by the present layout of the double car garage, which when I last saw it was full of dad's model railroad tracks and buildings, and many trains.
In the summer of 1948 we built a house to live in on Casper. There wasn't much between this location and Sandia base, or the mountains east of town except a few gas stations, etc... along east central. The new highland High School was being built about seven blocks to the east of where we built our house, so Dorothy and I went to school there a year later. The following is a picture history of the building of our new home.
Mom takes the first shovelful for the footing trench (Looking NE toward the Sandias)
"Pop" Reynolds (Head Carpenter) clears and burns weeds inside the trench enclosure (Looking SE)
Stan Reynolds trims footing trenches - Jack takes a break.
Stan is still trimming as the foundation forms go up (Looking south towards the airport)
Mom brought food and kept us company
Forms off, foundation cured
Dad says "Dig the sewer trench here"
I replied "You got it"
Jack also digs in the sewer trench.
This is a good place to hide.
Here comes the sewer
"Here comes de sludge" (The master bath)
First girder leveled
"Doc" Brannon who helped
Dad was head laborer
All girders in
Floor joists in
Sub-flooring on (looking NW toward town)
First wall up
"Pop" offers cool water
All walls up
Wind bracing and sheathing goes on
Electrical boxes in
Geez, we'll need a map to find our way around in here
We leave a hole for the fireplace and chimney in the west wall
Last of the sheathing on- "She's taking shape, boys"
"Stink pipes" and vents
Fireplace goes in
Chimney is started
Chimney done, tar paper and chicken wire on
Pouring and leveling the garage floor
Garage walls up and sheathed
Ready for stucco on the outside.....
.... and plaster on the inside
The "mud" machine ready for action
By the time we got the house enclosed, school had started. We went up to the house at night after school to lay the flooring. I pre-drilled every nail hole in the oak flooring to prevent squeeking.
This is how it looked when we started (Looking east toward the mountains along the dirt road, Casper) Highalnd High being built in the background.
This is how it looked when we got it done and moved in.
Peanut butter and bread spread in the new house
Finally there's time to rest
Fifty three years later, the neat "old house" we built in 1948 looks great. I stopped by to see it and was amazed how the neighborhood had grown, and especially how the trees had G R O W N so very much as well.