I was first drawn to construction when my father, Henri de Marne, decided our side porch would make a dandy office for himself. Then seven years old, I offered my services by hanging around until he found something useful for me to do. Soon, I could name all the nails and hand him the right ones at the right time. I learned all the tools and their functions. I˙m sure I took a few whacks at boards in my time, but with my slight weight at that age, I didn˙t make much of a dent, much less pound in too many nails. As a reward for my efforts, Dad made me my own tool box for my little set of tools. I still have it.
It wasn˙t long before I was fixing things as well as taking them apart. I was learning this stuff. One of my early jobs was working as the Assistant Buyer of Lamps at the Hecht Co. in Washington DC. When I had enough of the office, I could be found upstairs in the back storage creating new lamps from busted parts. My one-of-a-kind specials were put on display and sold. The tough part was when a customer wanted a match. Later, I was hired by a flooring company to sell flooring. I enjoyed playing around with the merchandise and ended up running the warehouse. I furnished my first townhouse with scraps of carpet, padding, carpet samples and plywood. Sold all of it when I moved to Germany for a year when I married Peter.
Back in the States, we moved to Vermont where we ran an old Vermont farmhouse as a ski lodge for a winter. Not only did we run out of water the first day we had guests (Christmas Day), but I had to cook for them as well. (I˙m not a cook, my sister is.) Dealing with the fix-it issues of old dryers, temperamental heating systems, cranky plumbing, mazes of "put-together" pipes and wires, wells, and chimneys was an education in survival! Our guests didn˙t starve, either.
Eventually we bought our own house. As our family grew to include two children, the house grew. We fixed electric wiring, replumbed fixtures, finished off a bathroom, added a large addition, dealt with lightning storms blowing out our water supply, electric lines coming down, days without power and water, and all manner of exciting events.