A serial memoir by Jean Fogelberg



For months, modified plans for the new home in Maine had been flying back and forth between Colorado and Maine via FedEx. Like the old captain’s house, this would be a haven we could retreat to between tours in the summer or fall. Because it would be insulated and have heating, though, we could stay into the winter if we wanted to and not freeze our butts off. 

     We’d been caught off guard in the fall of 2000, when winter arrived unexpectedly, overnight. Waking to snow, we were delighted with this beautiful new view of the island. Then we spent the day blocking drafts coming through the old wood doors with duct tape. The ground outside was covered in a smooth blanket of white, but the gaps in the dining room floorboards showed grass beneath the house. We threw rugs and blankets over the floors and stoked the Jøtul stove. 

     That was the year Dan decided we should build a new house. He started sketching ideas for elements like the master shower and a kitchen wine cupboard, as if we had all the time in the world. I went online and began bookmarking examples of house plans.

     Dan was thinking New England Cape. We both loved the Victorian era, though, and when I showed him a photo I’d taken of a Victorian house in Grand Junction, we decided to blend the two styles. We started designing a shingled Cape with a Queen Anne wraparound porch, octagonal turret, bay windows, and a little bit of gingerbread. Inside, we wanted it to feel old and homey, like a beloved grandmother’s country Victorian. Dan began drawing floor plans on paper but it was frustrating, having to erase and redraw, so I suggested he use Freehand, a vector graphics program. It would allow him to draw boxes then move them around and resize them. Ever the analog guy, he was reluctant to use computer technology for art, but he mastered it quickly. 

     At the ranch, the kitchen layout worked great for us, so we recreated it for Maine. While the master bedroom was okay, we wanted more room, a bigger closet, and two sinks in the master bath this time. The kitchen and the bedroom; we definitely had our priorities straight. The other rooms would be designed around them.

     Once we had the floor plans worked out, Dan started on the exterior drawings. If he got stuck on how to do something within the software, he’d come out to the art studio to get me. With his quick and agile mind, he progressed quickly. Soon he was painstakingly creating windows and posts, even gingerbread shingles. After two years of tweaking the house designs in our spare time, we were ready to find an architect. 

     The first local architectural firm we approached in Maine felt snooty. As soon as we entered their office and saw photos of houses they’d designed on the walls, we figured they weren’t right for us. We wanted our home to say “Grandma’s house;” the only grandma who would live in their houses would be the CEO of a major chemical corporation.

     It was a moot point. One minute into our meeting, we began pulling our drawings out of a folder and from the looks on their faces, you would have thought they were sprinkled with anthrax. They very politely let us know they only designed contemporary homes, and we very politely thanked them for their time.

     We next approached Eric Chase Architecture, in their offices near the harbor in Brooksville. Our first meeting was with Eric Chase, who brought Doug McMillan in. Eric had studied at Harvard and Yale, and Doug at Harvard and Berkeley, so they had plenty of reasons to be snooty, but they were friendly, laid back, and genuinely interested in seeing our plans. They’d designed contemporary, traditional, commercial and residential buildings. There was nothing in their portfolio like the house we were proposing, but they were open to working with us, and our builder, Bryan, on our seaside country Victorian Cape. The fact that Eric was a sailor, and had designed and built boats, sealed the deal for Dan.

     After meeting on-site with the architects, builder, and code enforcement officer, we had a better idea of how big the foundation would be. The house had to be a certain number of feet from the water on the east side, and on the west side there were a couple of large trees we didn’t want to cut down.

     In between meetings, we started shopping for furniture and fixtures for the new house. We rented a storage unit on the island and began adding pieces as we found them. Maine is full of antique stores, but most of our furniture came from The Creamery, in Ellsworth. One vendor, in particular, was bringing lovely old pieces over from Europe, so we checked in regularly.

     Dan had always loved architecture, and really enjoyed the process of designing and building a home. I’d never done this before, but it was fun and interesting, and my visual-spatial skills came in handy. During our meetings with Eric and Doug, the plans were always spread out on a big table at their office. One day, we were stuck on a problem with the guest bath, which sat between the two guest bedrooms. I suggested moving the bath to the outside wall, which fixed all the issues. To my surprise, the architects readily agreed and began adjusting the drawing. I wasn’t surprised that Dan agreed, though, or that he beamed at me, proud of my tape-measure brain. 

     In an antique store in Portland, Maine, one day, Dan found a long coffee table he liked. As the salesgirl wrote it up, she asked if we wanted to have the table delivered. When I said we could just put it in our car, she seemed skeptical. 

     “What kind of car do you have?” she asked. 

     “A Subaru Outback,” I answered. 

     She looked doubtful, and the three of us turned to assess the table again. “It will fit,” I assured them. She looked to Dan for his input. 

     “If Jeanie says it will fit, it will fit,” he said, handing her a credit card.

     We carried the table out to the car, and Dan followed my lead as I flipped it over. To my great relief, it fit, with barely an inch to spare, but my heart could not contain the love I felt for this man whose belief in me frequently exceeded my own confidence. 


Before the little yellow house was torn down, Bryan put the word out on the island, and homes were found for windows, bricks, bannisters, and the Jøtul stove. We saved the “Reach Haven” sign that had hung over the front door for many years, and some of the furniture and knick knacks. I asked that the beadboard ceiling in the kitchen be salvaged, not realizing what a difficult and dirty job it would be. 

     Lewis “Chuck” Reed, Jr. was the tallest, burliest guy on Bryan’s crew. He also did meticulous work, so he was charged with bringing the old wood down in one piece. I wanted it because I was designing a breakfast nook for the corner of the kitchen and the rich, dark fir would give it an English pub feel. Chuck painstakingly removed the tiny finishing nails to preserve the narrow beads, and stacked the wood in the living room to be taken away and stored in Bryan’s boat shed.


     I was saving the wood for the breakfast nook, but I was also preserving the story that went along with it. 

     Bryan had been the caretaker of the captain’s house for many years, keeping an eye on it when Dan was away. He checked on it after storms and did any carpentry work Dan wanted done as well. I wasn’t in the room at the end-of-the-season meeting between Dan and Bryan in 1999, so I don’t know exactly how Dan phrased his request, or how it was so completely misinterpreted by Bryan.

     Dan wanted the kitchen cabinets to be refinished. He must have pointed to the beadboard ceiling to reference the color. Or something. Anyway, when we returned the following year, we walked through the living room then turned right toward the kitchen. Dan’s steps slowed, then stopped. His hands rose from his sides, palms up and fingers splayed. Head back, mouth open; it looked like he was experiencing the manifestation of a divine being. I came in behind him and looked at the ceiling. It was glorious. The old vertical grain fir had been sanded and then varnished to a rich mahogany with a brilliant shine. It looked like something from a billionaire’s wooden yacht. 

     “Wow,” was all I could think to say.

      Dan sputtered, “What...what...”

   Bryan followed us in, beaming with pride at his Downeast Sistine Chapel. I couldn’t even imagine the hours of neck-breaking work that had gone into it. The cupboard doors were untouched.

     The three of us stood like that for a few moments, then, sounding dazed, Dan said, “I...wanted you to do the cupboards.”

     Bryan the ram stared at Dan the lion, then he walked out of the house without a word. Although the ceiling became the acknowledged showstopper of the house, the miscommunication was never again mentioned between the two friends.


Summer was just around the corner, and the ground had begun to thaw. With the old house torn down, and the footprint of the new house established, the crews would start digging the basement and foundation soon. 

     Before flying back to the ranch to prepare for the Summer Tour 2003, we stopped in Peoria for a wedding. Dan’s brother Pete was marrying his long-time girlfriend, Carla. After a beautiful ceremony, they held their reception in a cool old bar, which was connected to a huge antique mall.

     When the party really got going, Dan and I ducked into the mall. We found a beautiful old stained glass window that had been salvaged from an old church, as well as two cut glass sidelights for the front door. The idea of having something from Peoria surrounding the front door really appealed to us. We took meticulous measurements, then arranged to have them delivered to Margaret’s house, where they would stay in the basement until the builders were ready for them.


The band arrived at the ranch for rehearsals, and it felt like returning to summer camp. I knew the routines now, as well as the guys in the band. Michael “Zoot” Hanna would return on keyboards, and Robert McEntee on guitar, but this year it would be Jim Photoglo playing bass and Michael Botts on drums. Mike had been a member of the 70s super group, “Bread.” Jim had recorded two top 40 songs of his own, and written songs for artists like Garth Brooks, Faith Hill, and many others. Between these four guys and Dan, there were some great stories around the dinner table.

     Full Circle was released on May 20th and ten days later, the Summer Tour 2003 began at Wolftrap in Vienna, Virginia. The opening act that night was Schuyler Fisk, accompanied on guitar by John Jennings. Her mother, actress Sissy Spacek, joined them on stage, which was a treat for everyone. Starting out as a singer, Sissy Spacek did all her own vocals for the movie, "Coal Miner's Daughter," so it was no surprise to hear her clean, strong voice harmonizing with her daughter's.


     Now that I was an established member of the entourage, there were Cokes in Dan’s dressing room along with the water, beer, wine and cold cuts. I usually left the dressing room half an hour before the show, so Dan could warm up. I wandered the backstage areas, taking pictures, and once the show started I found an out-of-the-way place to sit and work on websites. 


     At the end of the night, if there was time between cities, we’d sleep in a hotel. Each one felt like a safe haven; a home away from home. Dan would have a couple of nightcaps in the bar with the road manager and I would go straight up to the room for a bath. When Dan came up, I'd order room service and we'd eat dinner in our robes. By now, I knew where to order a tall cranberry juice, and where to ask for two orders of cranberry juice, because certain hotels served juice in wine glasses.

     If the between-show schedule was tight, we’d all board the bus after the show; a compact little haven on wheels. It was similar to the previous year’s bus, so I knew just where to stow my things, in the master bedroom at the back.

     Everyone had favorite snacks and drinks in the little kitchen, and we all moved around from long couch to dining nook to bunks, talking, reading, watching TV and working on our laptops. Zoot and Mike took turns in the front seat, talking with the driver and watching the road ahead. When he got drowsy, Zoot would sit on the top step then lay back in the aisle to nap.


     At some point, Dan and I flew on a private jet, to New York, I think, for promo stuff. I’m not a fan of small planes, even luxurious private jets; if I’m going to hit an air pocket, I’d rather be a flea on a Bald Eagle than a tick on a Chickadee. But, they do save a lot of time and headaches, especially in those first years after 9/11.

     Dan had used the same jet charter company for many years; was, in fact, one of the owner’s first clients. As with all of his friendships and business connections, Dan remained loyal to the people he trusted.


     On June 11, the band played the Forum Theatre in Harrisburg, PA. The road trunks were brought in to a big forest green room, which would be the dressing room. The guys were getting used to me having my camera all the time, and were very nice about it. I did try to respect their privacy, but some shots seemed to take themselves. Bernie Boyle was the road manager on this tour, and he offered to take some photos of Dan and me at the end of the night.


     One night after the show, we stopped in at a nearby restaurant to eat before getting on the freeway. Some of the crew had stopped there too, and we were all seated together at a long table. In the bar, it was Karaoke Night. We could hear the music and the singing, which wasn’t bad, as karaoke nights go. The manager of the restaurant came over to meet Dan and some of the guys joked that Dan should get up and sing. The manager apologized and said that this was the tail end of a contest, and professional musicians weren’t allowed to perform. 

     Someone suggested that I go on, instead. I said no, no way was I going up there, but the guys pressed me. Finally, I said I would do it, but I needed a shot of tequila first, and they had to go up with me. The manager said as long as they weren’t singing into the mic, he didn’t see a problem with that. A round of drinks were bought. The manager brought me the song list and I chose the easiest song I could see - “Boogie Oogie Oogie,” by A Taste of Honey.

     Introduced as special guests, up we went, me at the mic and a group of scruffy road dogs backing me. I have a hazy recollection of a room full of faces looking up at us. They weren’t smiling, or bobbing their heads to the music; they had this collective look of stunned confusion. I was rusty, sure, but I'd sung the song many times in my band days, and I thought I was selling it. Then we got to the chorus and I made the mistake of looking behind me.


     Zoot, wearing his usual offstage basketball jersey and shorts, looked like Merlin the surfer dude, towering over the other guys, all in various modes of travel wear. Dan was holding a martini glass and grinning like a maniac in the middle of the group. They were trying to do some synchronized Temptations-style moves, but instead, they were bumping into each other in the small space. Unfamiliar with the old disco song, they were singing different words in all the wrong places. I started laughing, and had to look away so I could finish the song.

     Apparently, this karaoke contest had been going on for weeks. Solo performers, duos, and even trios had worked up songs each week, working on harmonies and outfits, trying to make it to the next round. They were familiar with the competition by now, so we were an anomaly, and their dumbfounded stares were completely understandable. 


While in Chicago, we met Elliott and his wife, Lynn, for dinner at our hotel. Meeting up with friends was always a nice break on the tours, even if we only got to spend some time with them backstage. Dan and Elliott picked up right where they left off the last time they were together, goofing around as they'd been doing since college.


     The last concert of the year was on July 5th, in Mancos, Colorado. It was a small outdoor venue in the San Juan Mountains, and a beautiful evening. After the show, I photographed the band back on the bus. It had been a good tour, with warm and appreciative audiences, and the guys were all happy and relaxed. Because we would see them again in a month, to tape the Soundstage concert in Chicago, it didn’t feel like goodbye. But it would  be Dan’s last concert tour, and our last bus tour with the boys in the band. 


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Posted January 9th. 2021  Copyright ©Jean Fogelberg 2021