Our First 10 Years

Our partner Brian, had become fed up with Frank, refused to go back to Sly’s jobsite and decided he was going out on his own, building log homes. Tom tried heading down on the next ten day shift, but also had an ugly confrontation with the Rocky wannabe, and was not going back. I finally went down with the crew and learned to stand my ground with Frank. He was like a Doberman/Poodle mix. Not much of a watch dog, but could be a vicious gossip! If he sensed weakness you were through. Ron (Ozzie) had been with us a couple of years and stepped up to take the lead position on the homes. He could also handle all of the confrontations with Frank. Ron had worked from the ground up with Homestead and understood the process and was a good leader. He had the respect from his crew and got along great with Tom and myself. He was one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen and just put in his twenty fifth year with our company. Kelly started the same time as Ron and runs our entire manufacturing and log building operation. I don’t know what we’d do without the both of them. They make it all happen here at Homestead, and it seems to always run pretty smooth.

About half way through building the main house, three more foundations went in. A 2000 square foot guest house was perched above it and to the East. Remember, the main house had only one bedroom and that was, you know who’s. A small, 700 square foot Cub Bear cabin was built to the West and was a place for his bodyguard to stay. The cabin had a concrete basement underneath that was filled with backup diesel generators, security systems and tons of electronic surveillance equipment in case the compound came under siege. The eight car garage was built a little higher on the hill, and was the last project. All of the buildings were built out of logs and it kept us there another three months. Frank tried to get bullet proof windows for the main house, but never did. I’m certain Sly was worried about being attacked. You and I would probably storm the place if we had to sit through all of his “Rocky” movies back to back. “Sorry about that Sly, that had to hurt!”

Stallone had a pink Italian villa in the Hollywood hills and loved the color. All of the log home projects were roofed and ready for a natural, honey colored finish similar to most of the homes we’d done. Interior decorators were busy sashaying about the place and we’d got wind that Sly was going to paint everything pink, inside and out. I mean, paint the logs pink! Frank actually questioned the plan and held his ground about any color but pink. “Probably didn’t look him in the eye, though.” Well if it couldn’t be pink than it would be white. Not just any white, but mixing a new log stain color from Sashco, a leading manufacturer in Colorado. It was marked on every five gallon bucket… “Stallone White”. It was the bright white you see in those laundry commercials, which pile is the whitest? It was so bright inside with all the skylights I needed sunglasses upstairs in the master bedroom or had to squint my eyes. I could barely make out the large, stuffed lion in his bedroom. “Doesn’t everyone have one of those?”

Everything was white. White carpeting, white-washed hardwood flooring, white sheetrock walls and two white quartz rock fireplaces. Later, Sly had student artists hand paint the quartz to look like river rock. It took them weeks to get the natural effect. I think they were both featured in Playboy’s best art college party schools, from my vantage spot. The downstairs main fireplace had a cascading waterfall above the mantel. Water was pumped into an upper reservoir and overflowed down the rock face. I liked it. I don’t think Sly liked it, though. One day workers arrived and covered all the rock with giant slabs of green, jade-like marble. They kept the waterfall and it looked great. I couldn’t help it, but when the pump kicked on it reminded me of the time my toilet overflowed.

The year we were there was a draught year and a lot of the neighboring properties wells were going dry. Sly’s was one of them. He was trying to irrigate 30 hillside acres and a polo field from one well. Even with a couple of steel water storage tanks, two water trucks could not keep up and ran back and forth nonstop. Still it wasn’t enough because most of the trees and shrubs were dying. Under pressure from Sly, workers applied a green dye to the polo field and continued every other week, anything to keep it from looking dead, which it was. It looked green and that was all Frank cared about. Another interesting thing that happened that fall was every night for one week we’d watch the World Series, with the SF Giants playing the Oakland A’s. It was the first time these two Bay area teams played each other for the title. The restaurant we were in started to shake. This was the year an earthquake rocked Candlestick Park during one of the games, and sent everyone fleeing for cover. The epicenter was near Santa Cruz, and we felt it all the way down the coast to Thousand Oaks. I know I felt it, because my beer spilled.