Our First 10 Years

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!”