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Pandemic projects: Deck reconstruction uncovers special memory

UPDATED: Thu., Nov. 19, 2020

By Cindy Hval For The Spokesman-Review

For 46 years, the flat stone lay hidden beneath the deck.

Over time, the floorboards of the deck grew creaky, their color fading beneath countless steps and the heat of the afternoon sun.

But the sentiment etched on the stone hasn’t faded and is still as meaningful as when Jim Magers placed it there four decades ago.

“Jim loves Marie, Summer 1974,” it reads.

The cement support was unearthed when Jim launched a deck renovation project this spring.

“We’d forgotten it was there,” said his wife, Marie.

Like many home improvement projects, this one started out small and grew as they worked.

“Originally, we just wanted to replace the flooring,” said Jim. “But then we found out the joists were rotting through.”

So, he completely dismantled the deck and began anew. They started the renovation in March during the statewide shutdown, and finished it by the end of May.

Marie said the timing was perfect.

“We couldn’t go anywhere, and I was downsized from my job, so I could help supervise,” she said with a grin. “He loved that.” Her husband smiled and shrugged.

“I’m always out here tinkering in the yard when I’m not doing something else,” he said.

Jim is no slouch with a hammer.

“In 1986 he designed and drew the blueprints for a beautiful home at Loon Lake,” said Marie. “Jim did all the construction, and his labor of love took him seven years to complete.”

He was also intimately familiar with the structure of their home near the Indian Canyon Golf Course.

“My dad was a brick mason,” said Jim. “He built this house and I helped him pour the cement for it when I was a kid.”

Though Jim was the builder, he heeded his wife’s suggestions as he rebuilt the deck. Instead of one solid color of decking material, he alternated between dark brown and natural wood, creating a pleasing pattern.

“That was Marie’s idea,” he said.

Also her idea – a new privacy corner he built using a piece of galvanized roofing material.

When the structure was complete, they replaced their old canvas-topped gazebo with a sturdy 10-foot-by-12-foot metal one, and strung lights around the deck’s perimeter.

“We enjoyed watching TV out here all summer,” said Marie.

When the evenings grew cool, a fire pit provided warmth.

“It’s a nice place to gather your thoughts,” Jim said.

Much like their marriage reflected in the sentiment he etched in stone 46 years ago, this deck is built to last.

Jim ran his hand along the railing.

“This is a solid project,” he said. “I won’t have to do this again in my lifetime.”

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