Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Russell Towle -- Master Builder
Not everyone will appreciate the rarity of the top photo. That is Russell on the right, of course, taking a break from his work on my log home in Dutch Flat in 1985. The slim, pensive lad on the left is none other than Hank Lee, who posted the photos below of Russ getting into his tuxedo in preparation for my 50th birthday dinner. Hank has subsequently changed his presentation somewhat.
One of Russell's specialities that most awed me was his incredible talent as a carpenter, cabinet maker, woodworker and builder. My Dutch Flat house is imbued with his work and his special touches. He was capable of doing precise and fine work, and the marvel was that he did it all with a Skilsaw. The lower photo shows an example. Tony Taylor, who built my house, and his crew were stumped by the problem of how to hang my special ceiling lights from the slanted ceiling. They milled around, scratched their heads and found no solution, so we decided to go to lunch at the Monte Vista and talk it over. Russell excused himself and stayed behind. When we returned from lunch we discovered that Russ had solved the problem by designing and constructing with his Skilsaw a perfect mounting box for the hanging light and then mounting it to the ceiling. You see it in the photo. Tony Taylor and his crew were dumbfounded and came away with a new respect for Russell.
Russ' masterpiece at my house was the stunning flagstone terrace he built using a diamond-bladed concrete saw. (Russ was good at sawing.) This is a creation that defies belief. It consists of 2.5 inch thick flagstone slabs cut into intricate geometric patterns, then fitted tightly together on a bed of sand without benefit of any kind of mortar. Future archeologists, when they unearth Squire Canyon, will look upon this terrace and think this must have been a very advanced civilization indeed that could create such a work. I will post photos of it later on.