Working together, one step at a time, the roof got fixed

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 26, 2005

By Bev Jackson, History Is …

It was a long climb up that ladder. I’m not crazy about ladders, even short ones.

This one stretched from the sidewalk on the south side of the museum building up beyond the light above the doorway, and on up the equivalent of another story. It was the ladder the men working on the museum roof had been using for the duration of the replacement and repair process.

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I had been watching them jauntily prancing up and down those steps, ladder swaying and one hand carrying something while the other one held onto the rungs, and all the while I thought, “I’m sure glad that’s not me. I could never do it.”

But something happened to me on the last day of the job. I knew the ladder would be coming down and that my only chance to see what they had done was at that very moment. So, ignoring the fact that I was wearing a dress and heels, I grabbed a rung on the ladder and asking Dave on the roof to hold it to stabilize the sway, I started to climb, one step at a time.

All the while I was thinking, “Step, together, move the hands, step, together, move the hands…”

Several years ago, my son Rick and I had toured Balcony House at Mesa Verde. We were told before the trip started that we would have to climb a rope and reed ladder. “Could we do it? Sure.”

When I saw that ladder and realized how high the climb was, I wanted to change my mind. Then I looked down the cliff, bad choice. The guide kept saying to us, “Just one step at a time. Don’t look down.” When I got to the top, my knees were shaking so much I looked like I was standing on a vibrator.

Climbing the ladder to the museum roof, I kept saying, “One step at a time. Don’t look down.” It worked that day, too.

What I saw was well worth the shaking knees. The roof that you all helped to pay for is beautiful. The old asphalt and other roofing materials were removed and a new Genflex rubber system was installed on the west portion of the museum.

Other work was done on the east section that should keep it in good repair for many years. I knew that by a pulley system, they had hauled twelve tons of river rock to layer over the rubber, and when I stood on that ladder and looked over that expanse of small stones, I couldn’t help but wonder how they managed to smooth that surface so that it had neither a bump nor a ripple.

The roof should last for many, many years.

By the way, the view from the roof top is great.

Less than two months ago, when we put out the plea for financial help with this project, we had no idea how you would respond, and once again, this community and our museum members came through.

The notes included with your checks made for great reading. “Good luck. Stop that leak!” “It isn’t much but am enclosing a check for the roof fund. Bet you hate all this rain.” “I enjoy using the resources you have there and would hate to see any of it ruined.”

“Sorry about the leaky roof. Hope this will help a small area somewhere.” “Been raining all week. Hope the sun is shining when you get this.” “Can’t afford this, but…”

“Hope you are getting lots of donations, but it is a bad thing when so many people are out of work. Lots of people I know think it is important to save all the old treasures.”

&uot;I appreciate the help I have received from Linda through the years, as well as the graciousness of all your staff members … will try and help out a little bit.”

“Good luck on your roof repair.” “Sorry to learn about the roof. Hope the enc. Ck. Will help! Best wishes.” “I would like this money to go to the roof fund in memory of my parents.”

“Thank you for your request for the building maint. Contribution. I’m pleased to give what I’m able to … I am grateful beyond words for what I personally have learned in terms of historical perspective from my family ‘findings’ at your museum.”

I have learned that if we work together, one step at a time, we can survive the tough situations that come our way. We cannot put a dollar value on the museum collection or the information in the archives, and like the artifacts, your friendship is priceless. Thank you.

(Bev Jackson is the executive director of the Freeborn County Historical Museum.)