Stoop to Conquer Page 2

    “OK,” I said as we drove around rows of stones to see the prize of Irwin Stone, “Look at these guys.” Two pallets each held one gigantic flat gray stone. The stones were more or less flat on top, a foot thick and six feet across. Moss speckled their sides.
    “This is what I was imagining,” I said. “Four or five of these in a row, with grass between them. But now that I see them, there’s no way I could move these or work with them.”
    “You and your stones,” said Loie. She was referring to my penchant to point out what are to me interesting rocks as we drive around. “They are beautiful. But they’re not flat enough. And I want something fancier for the walk. The color of those Arizona stones will look nice with our wood house.” Loie was right. The Arizona stones were just right for a walk.
    “We can buy one of these and make it the Central Object,” said Loie. I laughed and said, “I’ll never get it off the pallet. It’s OK, I just wanted to show you some silly business.”
    “Those are magnificent stones,” said Loie. "If you want one, we’ll get it. Do they have any we could use for a stoop?” We drove back up to the rear of the office, where there were several ashlars.
    “I asked about these. Really they’re too small. They’re only seven inches tall, and that won’t work out to the right number of equal steps up to our front door,” I said.
    “And they're just gray,” said Loie. “I hoped they might have some red ones, like the steps we saw on Main Street.” I just shook my head. But we were agreed on the stones for the walk, so progress was being made. To a point. In the next few weeks I called and called concrete companies to try and get an estimate for building a new stoop. Hilary had been enthusiastic about the man who made their new sidewalk. He never called back. Finally one concrete man came out to Lake Drive. Stanley wasn’t enthusiastic about making bullnosed steps. It took a long while for him to even understand my rather simple plan. I told him he could see an example on Willis Street in Westminster. Over the next few days, he called to say he couldn’t find the house. I went into Westminster and got the exact street address, and even took some pictures. That was in the last week of May. Eventually Stanley called and said he didn’t think he could make bullnosed steps. I was in a quandry. What could I do about our stoop?
    When I went to Maurer and Miller, the butcher in Manchester, I noticed that right next door was a new company that made embossed concrete! Maybe they could make my steps? The owner came over the next day. He said he could do exactly what we wanted, and we discussed sizes for the steps. Two days later he called with his estimate: $2,500. Loie and I were flabbergasted.
    “I never thought it would be so much,” I said.
    “That would almost pay for a trip to Rome,” said Loie. “We’re not going to pay that much for a stoop.”
    “Well, that’s probably what it costs,” I said. “But you’re right, I don’t want to spend that much on a stoop, either.”
    “Call Stanley back,” said Loie. “See what he will charge for just plain steps.” I did call Stanley, and my suspicion was confirmed. He wanted $2,100 to build plain, square edged steps. That was just that.
    “OK,” I said, “I’m just going to do this myself. I’m going to knock off the stupid brick step and make a new step on top of the old one.” Several of our friends had said it would be easy to make a new concrete step. Thomas even offered to loan me his electric cement mixer. So I got out my tools and started bashing the brick step.
    “It scares me when you start wrecking things without really knowing how to fix them,” said Loie. “But you always figure out what to do.” And she was right. I went to Irwin Stone and the very helpful people there let me pick out individual stones which they put on a pallet. They told me to buy crush and run stone and stone dust on which to set my flagstones.
    “How many bags do I need?” I said.
    “Not bags,” said Dale. “You want one each bulk bags, like that one out front.” He showed me the giant woven plastic bag. “Comes on a pallet. The driver’ll swing it down wherever you want it. And you can use the bag after, for lawn work. Deliver all this day after tomorrow?” So the stepping stone walk was getting ready to go.
    For our stoop, I built a form, with cove moulding around the top to try and make an interesting edge. I had realized that I could match the overhang of the existing step by putting two-by-four lumber around the bottom of the form, and was proud of myself for the inspiration that gave me to do something similar at the top edge.

< ReturnContinue >