I remember my very first job site. It was my childhood home. And my dad was the one building it.
It was late in the summer of 1964… I was almost 5 years old and loved doing anything my dad did. That afternoon, while my father put up walls at the house that would eventually become our home, I decided I should help—putting in floors! That’s what I would do.
Even at 5 years old, I knew before I could put in floors, I needed nails… so I scoured the project for stray nails. In the dirt, under debris, for hours I hunted those nails until finally I had any entire coffee can full of them. I approached my dad, can of nails in hand, and informed him in my most serious five-year-old voice that I was going to help him nail off the 2×6 T&G sub-flooring.
My father paused for a moment, as if to consider the risk, and then nodded.
He handed me a 13 oz. finish hammer; and with his rough and splintered hands over mine, he showed me how to lightly tap the top of the nail with the hammer.
“That’s how you set the nail, son.”
That’s all it took—I was hooked! My dad walked away to finish another project and I got to work—enthusiastically setting hundreds of nails into a very (very) small space. In fact, the sheer weight of the nails per foot of 2×6 alone would have kept the floors in place—never mind the need for any additional hammering.
I can still remember it—the earthy smell of the wood and acrid scent of the nails. I loved the feel of the nail making its way into the wood. I loved the tapping sound the hammer made with each hit. I couldn’t help it—I was a builder!
An hour later, and bursting with pride, I showed the empty coffee can to my dad…
My dad didn’t often express how he felt about something… but in moments like that, he would give me a slow, steady half-smile… This was his unique expression of pride and caring. That’s all I ever needed. He patted me on the back, told me the work was good, and we went home for dinner.
What started as a reason to spend more time with my dad eventually became a passion I could call my own and 40 years ago, with that shared love of building dreams, my father and I started Desert Star Construction.
Certainly, things have changed since I put those first few (hundred) nails in that sub-floor.
When my father started building homes, he did it from a single piece of paper—today we build homes from hundreds of pages. It used to be just the two of us—today we have an incredible internal team and network of exceptional contractors, and my father has since retired.
But no matter how many years pass, some things will never change. I will never stop loving the feel of a nail making its way into the wood or the tapping sound of a 13 oz. hammer. I will never lose the wonder or enthusiasm for creating something from nothing.
Wishing all DADs a very Happy Father’s Day!