Monday, May 21, 2018

First Castle

For those of you who have been following the construction of the castle for my grandchildren on this blog, here is a picture of the first "Fort-cum-castle" I had my hand in. I built it all by myself, using old lumber from the former mill and pighouse on our farm. I finished it in November 1960, and would have been fifteen at the time. It was two stories plus the tower.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Children's historical novel soon available.

In May 2018, my new historical novel, Taken beyond the Ohio: the Indian Captivity of Marie LeRoy and Barbara Leininger, should be available for purchase via Ingram and Amazon Books.

At the outbreak of the French and Indian War in Pennsylvania, Indian raiders took two neighboring, twelve-year-old girls prisoner. Marie LeRoy and Barbara Leininger both witnessed the killing of their fathers and the destruction of their homes, then lived together with their captors for over three years. They learned Indian ways and moved five times, finally ending up in central Ohio. But neither fully accepted their adoption. In March 1759, along with two other young captives, they escaped, walking almost 200 miles through near-winter wilderness to Fort Pitt and freedom. The first-person voice of Marie LeRoy gives this fictional recreation of an actual experience immediacy and provides understanding of what both girls experienced. It follows the girls’ own narrative, but fills in many details of a challenging, sometimes brutal ordeal from which both girls still emerged strong and whole. It is a story of friendship, courage and resourcefulness driven by a constant need to regain family and home.

This is a true story of survival that should interest both girls or boys, but it should also appeal to teachers searching for fiction to use in history curricula. The 282 page story includes end notes and an extensive bibliography.

 Published under the Hemlock Lodge Press imprint.
Kutztown, Pennsylvania

With numerous illustrations.
Printed and distributed by Blurb publications. Available from Amazon and through Ingram. Also available at the Firefly Bookstore in Kutztown, PA .
ISBN: 9781388685737 (softcover) list: $12.75
ISBN: 9781388685249 (hardcover) list: $27.50

This book was a labor of love. The story of Barbara Leininger's younger sister, Regina, who was kidnapped at the same time, usually gets all the attention. LeRoy is all too often the forgotten part of the story. But I spent a long time doing the research, and Linda and I traveled across Pennsylvania and out to the middle of Ohio retracing the girls' route and visiting the places they lived. I wanted to get the girls' story as accurate and faithful to what happened as possible. Their courage still impresses me today.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Various pictures shot on film

Scott & Charlotte coming off Mt. Kearsarge, NH

Our humble home

Battlements of the Loder castle

Moses and Lego box

Brandon, LisaandLinda picking wineberries

In the Whites

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Castle's Climbing Wall

Climbing wall for Moses

The castle is still not quite complete, but we were able to add the climbing wall and pipe slide on the back in the last week or so—despite miserable, hot weather.
Moses loves it.
The grips came from Rocky Mountain Climbing Gear. Excellent quality and good price. I mounted them on treated 2X12s. The pipe slide uses standard one-inch pipe.
Moses' new climbing wall

Get to the top, grab the pipe.

Slide down the pipe. He also can climb the pipe to the roof.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Castle: Almost Complete

Claire and Brandon enjoy the castle

The castle for the grandchildren is almost done and my other grandchildren, Claire and Brandon, got to see it for the first time today. Claire and Moses promptly settled in for a good time. Note the Loder arms and the date added above the drawbridge.
Moses and Claire on the battlements. No, the castle is not crooked. I just couldn't hold the camera level.
Brandon is not so sure and enjoys his Mommy's help on the drawbridge.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Roofing the Castle

Downstairs walls complete and the roofers came and finished the roof.

Moses Eastman examines the new south doors of the castle.
On the first of July, we finished the downstairs walls and the south double doors. The castle looks mostly done except for painting and caulking.

On Friday, July 8th, Terry Hartman's crew appeared and by noon they had finished the roof. The copper corners came from old gutters replaced on the Walnut Meadows barn.

Note that the Blassingames now have a flag to fly as well.
The three-man crew gets busy.
Placing the final shingles.
Cutting the copper for the window.
Securing the copper trim.
Finishing the peak.
The Castle's finished roof. Note the banner with white horse of the Blassingames

 A few odds and ends to finish up and the castle will be done. If you want to see a real play castle, check out what the Lowther Trust has built on the grounds of Lowther Castle <>. More later.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Walling in the lower level of the Castle

Lots of old boards

With the upper floor virtually complete, I turned my attention to what will be the first floor of the grandchildren's castle. Following the same pattern as the north wall, I used old boards that once walled a pig house and other out buildings at the family farm. Most are pine, but a few are oak. Cutting out the rotten parts and squaring up the reminders has been quite a challenge. 
The walls of the second floor are complete.

A small window went above Mo's desk. We added two more larger windows—light downstairs being more important than security. The back of the east wall includes an extra door to give adults direct access to the ships ladder to the second floor.

Two more boards for the east wall and the doors for the south face, and the exterior will be almost complete. Lots of painting and caulking still to go.

The south entrance will have a double door.  Side door is for adult access.

Snow fencing helps keep the children out of the poison ivy and brambles.