by Curt Kovener
This missive for the approaching Memorial weekend is being written from the
woodland retreat. While several of these meanderings are, or at least
inspired here, this one for this time seems particularly appropriate.
A lot of rain fell last week and, as I keyboard this week’s written
offering, it is truly peaceful to be listening to the creek babble below the
back deck and the various birds engaged in some competitive songfest. Most
of the woodland symphony is soothing to the soul.
We were privileged to purchased the woodland retreat over a decade ago from
the widow of Marvin Meyer, a man I never met but over the years have gotten
Marvin was a building contractor who in the mid 1970’s, while I was occupied
with college classes, carved out a lake site, built a home and outbuildings
in the forested hills & valleys of northwest Jackson county.
Over the years and various remodeling projects, I have discovered how Marvin
left his mark on the place. I suspect that he was an independent and
possible cantankerous sort. Maybe that is why I feel some kindred spirit.
In renovating the bathroom and bedrooms I have found some peculiarities of
wood and construction technique and would inquire not expecting an answer
“What were you doing here, Marvin?”
I suspicion he was a bit of a tightwad as some framing and rafters showed
used lumber recycled into the home. But there is nothing wrong with being
frugal as it is yet another reason I feel a connection with the builder.
Some years back while cleaning out some shelves left in the basement, I came
across a flat contractor’s pencil imprinted “Marvin Meyer – Building
Contractor – Freetown, Indiana”. I put it up for safe keeping and a
historical memento of significance probably only to me. It was a gift
offered up, I suppose, much like of the arrowheads and spearpoints we have
found at the woodland retreat.
I’ve often wondered about Marvin’s sense of adventure and daring to clear
then construct a half mile driveway through the woods to build a house in a
secluded, hilly acreage. Some of the base material used in the gravel drive
was bricks. There’s that reuse, recycle attribute again.
While he undoubtedly spent quite a lot of time developing this place of
solitude, he didn’t get to enjoy it.
I was told that as he was putting the final touches on the home he ran out
of some finish nails. He climbed aboard his motorcycle and made his way
Along the way, as a group of bicyclists pedaled west, a car pulled out to
pass the group and right into the path of Marvin’s motorcycle. He was killed
Recently, I did what I had long wanted to do: I sought out and found the
woodland retreat’s creator’s resting place.
The stone says simply: Marvin Meyer 1933-1977. As I stood at his grave, I
introduced myself and added “though you probably already know me from some
of my earlier conversations.”