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A cabin for Sophia
The Monroe News
By Ray Kisonas
Monroe News staff reporter
DUNDEE TOWNSHIP — One day Sophia and her Papa were riding his tractor through the woods on his property off W. Dunbar Rd. when the first-grader had an idea.
Since the 7-year-old enjoyed the 10½ acres of woods so much, she thought it would be nice if she had her own house.
"What kind of house?" her Papa asked.
"A log house," the granddaughter replied.
So he spontaneously found a nice, flat spot in the woods. Then, using his tractor, he dragged a 9-foot cherrywood log with a 10-inch diameter, and plopped it onto the ground. Thus began the first stages of the construction of Sophia's cabin.
Without any plans or blueprints or even preparation, Ronald Smock started building. He used trees that fell in the woods, stripped the bark from the logs by hand and created a little girl's dream play house.
"I didn't know nothin'," Mr. Smock said. "I just kind of stumbled along. I'm planning as I go."
After starting on a whim that Nov. 1, Mr. Smock kept going until the cabin in the woods is nearly done. With a solid roof and about 50 square feet of interior play space, the house needs a few final touches before the next time Sophia comes to visit.
"She loves to live here and play in our yard," said Mr. Smock's wife, Pam, also known as Grandma. "She loves it here."
Sophia, who had attended Summerfield Schools, moved to Sault Ste. Marie. She is expected to have a brief visit in March, then a long stay during the summer. The Smocks will be ready and Sophia's cabin will be waiting.
A retired machine repairman at Ford, Mr. Smock, 75 in May, worked on the cabin using what he had. But then he decided he needed help to make the structure proper, so he invested in a saw mill and supplies. The $4,500 mill and extensions can handle logs up to 16 feet long and 26 inches in diameter. It was a huge help to cut boards for the roof and floor.
The cabin, with 5-foot walls and an 8-foot center, will provide plenty of space for Sophia and her friends to play. Plus, it's sturdy. That was proven when Mr. Smock accidentally bumped the walls with his tractor and the cabin didn't budge.
"I didn't want it flimsy," he said.
With two windows near the roof peak to allow light, Mr. Smock will design a system where the door can't be locked either from the inside or outside for safety reasons. He still needs to install the maple flooring and plans to fill the gaps between logs with corn cobs and caulk.
"I gotta keep the bees out," he said. "We have a lot of problems with bees."
Soon it will be finished, including a brass-colored mailbox with Sophia's name on it, and this labor of love will be standing sturdy and ready for a lucky little girl whose Papa isn't a builder but willing to learn if it makes her happy.