By Gene Thompson
The next few months were hectic as all of the arrangements had to be made, but we had a goal of building a cabin and moving in before the next winter arrived. We quit our jobs, put our property on the market, and put all of our efforts into renovating the apartment building in hopes of it bringing a higher price.
My parents lived in the Black Hills, and began to look for some land that would meet our needs. They found a three-acre plot of land in a remote meadow with a year-round trout stream. It sounded perfect, and trusting their judgment, we bought it sight unseen.
My father had built the home I had grown up in, and he wanted to help build his son a house too. Now retired, he had been an independent businessman for over twenty years, successfully operating his own used car dealership. I grew up working on the car lot with my father, and learned at an early age how to do things for myself. Whether it was repairing a car or putting an addition on the house, we did the work ourselves, saved money, and had the satisfaction that goes along with being independent. So it was natural for us to want to build the cabin ourselves, to do otherwise actually never occurred to us.
I decided we would need a truck, and locating an old beat up green International that I felt would be perfect, I showed it to Salli. She however did not share my enthusiasm, but decided that I must know what I was doing, and let me buy it anyway.
I made the trip out to the hills several weeks before Salli, leaving her to take care of some real estate problems. I showed my father the drawings I had made of the cabin I wanted to build and we made up a materials list. We obtained the appropriate permits and ordered the building materials.
It was about that time that I received a most unusual birthday present. It was a roomy, old, two-hole privy that had been lovingly restored by my folks. They even delivered it and dug the pit. Few gifts could have been appreciated as much as this one, as we never installed indoor plumbing. It was to see a lot of use over the five years that we lived there.
We began digging the footings, and within a week Salli had arrived, and the construction began. Dad and I were the carpenters, mom and Salli helping wherever they could. Building the cabin was exhilarating, and we all worked well together.
We had ideal weather during the construction, it was fall, and the cold nights and mild sunny days made the work very enjoyable. It felt good being there, it already felt like home. There was a next of eagles nearby, and they would circle above us during the day, we weren’t sure why they came day after day, but we enjoyed watching them soar effortlessly on the afternoon thermals.
After a busy three weeks, the cabin was roughed in and weather tight. Salli and I were ready to move in, we made a trip back to Sioux Falls to pick up our furniture. Over the short time we had been married we had accumulated a considerable amount of antique furniture that we had elected to keep. We stuffed a rented U-Haul trailer with all our belongings, which had been put in storage when our house had sold, and set off for our new home.