The Colonel’s Plan – The Blue Bathroom – Part 3

September 15, 2017 (Continued)

Dear Daddy,

Once Gary had the shower base and the rough plumbing in place, I started on the floor. You had bought and installed beige mosaic tile in the bathroom downstairs, the only one you finished. There was identical tile, in shades of pink, for Susan’s bathroom. I had assumed there was similar blue mosaic tile for this room, but, when I took inventory of the tile, lovingly stored these past 50 years, I didn’t have anything like that. I asked Mike if there were any code issues with Pergo or similar wood laminate. I figured it would be a pretty easy install. I actually have it in my bathroom at home, but we don’t have a shower in that one. He said no code issues, but don’t do that to myself. Ceramic was the way to go, and wood-look plank ceramic is the in thing.

So I bought 50 square feet of the stuff—no more expensive than Pergo. I had done a tile floor before, you might remember, at my old townhouse. It wasn’t horrible. The only downside was the mess the mortar makes, and then the grout. And they still make a mess. After finishing the cement, when I went out in the yard to hose down my tools, I wound up just hosing down myself in my shorts. It was fortunately still very hot outside, even if you would have been running around in a flannel shirt and t-shirt. I never understood how you could stand that, just as you never understood how I could run around without a shirt on. I guess we adjust our bodies to certain temperatures by wearing more or less clothing.

I had one ordeal, which was pretty funny, really. I had to lay ten courses of tile. As long as they were, that meant cutting only ten tiles for length—each course three and a piece. You left me your Superior No.1 tile cutter, which, I understand from home forums is still in use by people who, like me, inherited them from their fathers. I was even able to order a new cutter wheel for it. Actually I had to order two. You see, that wheel, which weighed nothing, was shipped in a box big enough to hold two coffee mugs. I left the first one on Mother’s round table in the family room, and it wound up going out with the recycling, unopened. I can hear you saying, “Now, why did that woman do that?” And I would have said, “Someone has left her a few too many items to keep up with around here.”

That was not a good evening, when we realized one of my new tools had been disposed of, in a house where 50-year-old trash was still sitting in the corner where you had stacked it. Oh well, I ordered a new one and forgot about it.


Your old tile cutter, which had obviously seen a lot of use, since you’d replaced its original cutting pads with red foam rubber, couldn’t do one thing: it couldn’t rip a two-foot plank of tile lengthwise. And wouldn’t you know that the little inset right in front of the shower needed a two-inch wide plank? For that, I needed someone with a wet saw. When purchasing carpet for Ethan and Jessica’s room, I asked the Lowes flooring guy if that was a job they could do for me. “I’m a little skeptical,” he said. I pointed to his wet saw and observed its deck was about three feet long. He shrugged. “Bring it in and see what we can do.”

Lowes, Home Depot—is there a difference? Yes, there is. A few days later, I ran to the Home Depot, which is closer to you, carrying the tiles. I took two, in case one broke. And I’d bought it at Home Depot, so I figured it was more appropriate to ask them to cut it. When I asked at Customer Service, the guy said, “I don’t think we can do that.”

“Why not?” I asked.

He rolled his eyes. “Just go to Flooring and see what they say.”

There was no one working in Flooring. I paced for a few minutes. I considered picking up the store phone and trying random extensions. I wondered if it was appropriate to shoot off a flare. Finally, I walked over to Paint and stopped a lady who looked like she didn’t want to be stopped.

“Is there anyone working Flooring?” I asked.

“Oh, well, you should go over there to Flooring and ask.”

“I did. There’s no one to ask.”

“Oh. Well, they’re all in a meeting.”

“So there’s no one to help with flooring?”

“Maybe I can help you. What do you need?”

“I need these tiles cut.”

“Oh. We never cut tile.”

And she walked away.

Well, I like to take my business local when I can. So I called Kendall’s Hardware. They’re right around the corner from your house. Used to be in a Quonset hut, situated beside my middle school. Then a chain hardware store built a big building right next to them. That lasted about two years, and then Kendall bought that building and tore down the Quonset Hut. Score one for locally owned businesses, though you told me at the time that you thought the chain had a better selection.

Kendall’s said yes, they could cut tile, but the guy who did it wouldn’t be in until tomorrow. Come in before 4:00, they said. So I placed two planks on the back seat of my Jeep and took them to work with me, so I could hit Kendall’s at lunchtime.

When I got there and checked in at the service desk, the young man working there rolled his eyes and said, “We don’t actually cut tile, but there’s one guy here who would have told you we could. I’ll get him.”

One guy was gotten. Unfortunately, he didn’t realize I needed tile ripped. He thought I just needed some short, straight cuts. He told me to find a tile contractor who worked out of his home.


Love, Steven


(Visited 36 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.