Scrapbook Eighty Four…


JULY 2014


Since my eulogy for Mike Kammerer appeared as Scrapbook eighty-three on Dal’s blog several folks have asked me to say something more about the man and his home. This is going to be fun.

I went through the house construction with MK and it took me three years. For two of those years it was the biggest mess I ever saw, with workers lumbering around carrying objects that looked too heavy to carry. I told MK his debacle would never come together. He just laughed at me, and it did.

The kitchen ceiling was made of Mexican bricks that were cemented in on a slant so their edges would stick out. The effect was wonderful but I couldn’t understand how they did it.

The master bathroom had a shower that was 300 square-feet in size. It had a fireplace in one corner and an 8 foot-wide waterfall decorating the back wall. I guess MK wanted to be comfortable while he cleaned up. And the same shower contained another smaller shower over there in another corner. It was glassed-in and his wife preferred that one, saying “I didn’t feel comfortable standing naked in the middle of a large room with no clothes on.” She had a quaint way with words.

The eleven bathrooms in the house had sinks that were hand-shaped from solid rock, and each one was a different style. The gym was just off the master shower and a stone bathtub was in there somewhere. The huge his-and-hers closets looked like something right out of Imelda Marcus with clothes and shoes lined up like they had been measured in.

The outside on the north side of the house looked like a small Mexican village from the 1880s. MK’s custom built stagecoach was there by the carriage house, as was a store fully stocked with mercantile goods of the period. Guest facilities that continued the country feeling seemed to be everywhere. MK could sleep 56 people. Goats, sheep, peacocks, and other petting animals were there just for fun.

The church, a replica of the cathedral in Santa Fe, stood stately in its place on the far end of the plaza by the gate. He built it to get married in, and gave $25,000 for the wooden 17th century Spanish, hand-carved door.

MK and Susan on a sneakaway in Aspen.

MK and Susan on a sneakaway in Aspen.

The outside on the south side of the house was inhabited by the swimming pool, hot tub, bathhouse, and about fifteen large sit-on rocks that had their underneaths carved out to house speakers for the audio system. One never knew they were there until one strolled by and the stones started playing music. When the well pump shorted out MK trucked water in from sixty-miles away to fill the swimming pool. Flower gardens, fruit trees, grape vines, and large western bronzes abounded the pool area.

MK was a calf roper who aspired to the rodeo, and he was pretty good. His collection of horses and longhorn steers was housed in what I called the Kammerer Hilton. It was located on the fenced-in west end of his 175 acres.

When entering the property from a county road, two blocks from the Eaves Ranch movie set where John Wayne made movies, you passed MK’s five bedroom house that was built many years ago by the Underwood typewriter family. Then another 500 feet, and adjacent to a lushly lilypadded pond, was the front entrance to the villa. A larger-than-life-size bronze (MK bought the entire edition of fifteen) stood like a sentinel beside a small stream that fed the pond, which I stocked with damsel and dragonfly eggs, game fish, crawfish, snakes, frogs and turtles. MK gave Peggy and me a smaller version of the bronze. Ours weighs only 65 pounds. The tacked-on plaque reads, “Code of the West by Herb Mignery, dedicated to Forrest and Peggy Fenn, keepers of the code and folks to ride the river with.”


Code of the West

When Mike divorced his second wife he was suffering from several maladies, one of which eventually took his life. I “made” him hire Susan Bodelson who was a very special woman, and coincidentally, a registered nurse. She came from a family of ten children, seven of whom worked for me at one time or another. Her brother Danny made the illustrations for my TFTW book.

Susan wears her working face as she peers out of a “secret” chamber in Kiva A at San Lazaro Pueblo. She and her daughter, Perry, helped us with the excavations.

Susan wears her working face as she peers out of a “secret” chamber in Kiva A at San Lazaro Pueblo. She and her daughter, Perry, helped us with the excavations.

While Susan was pampering Mike back to health they had a whirlwind romance and eloped without telling anyone – not even me. He loved camping with her in the Pecos wilderness on rainy days and nights, and then more rainy days and nights. Many dinners under the stars were private to them alone and when they surfaced to enjoy a libation at Vanessie’s Piano Bar they sat close, and probably wondered why they were there at all.

But their life together was short lived, an account I spoke to in my eulogy. When Mike died I fabricated two ½ inch hearts in wax, cast them in silver, linked them forever together, and strung them on a chain for Susan. One had her name on it and the other, his. Inside a hollow in her silver heart I placed one of Mike’s small cremated bone fragments, and sweated it over with a silver plate. That was seven years ago and Susan has not moved on like she should have. Her heart remains with Mike and she still wears the little necklace I made for her. I think she likes it. ff


58 thoughts on “Scrapbook Eighty Four…

  1. Thanks for the story, f. Lightning strikes a heavy blow outside and my eyes are weary. I shall read the story again tomorrow (and I don’t mean 7 minutes from now). Nice ending.

  2. Much love and hugs to you Susan.

    I’m so sadden by your loss, but so thankful you found such a beautiful love.

  3. The kitchen ceiling is what caught my eye. I always loved barrel type ceilings like that. It is amazing and wonderous what some people can do with their imagination.

  4. The description of the Kammerer mansion sounds like it took imagination and creativity to build. The story is bittersweet and I can’t imagine having to move on when one has such a great relationship…I am sorry for the loss of the ones you admire and loved, Mr. Fenn.

  5. Fenn.
    I can’t say for sure but I think I counted 56 clues. 5 on one hand and 6 on the other. Live here at Tn. 🙂 Like to visit NM if it be worth it.

  6. True confession here… I’m so fascinated by the barrel vaulted brick ceiling, hand forged chandeliers, and artwork that I could care less about clues today.

    Truly the most unique & beautifully appointed home I’ve seen. Also heartbroken for Susan that her influential love and romance with MK resides only in her heart today.

  7. If it cost 15 million to build, can only imagine what the value is today…..what a layout!! I can’t even think in those circles, much less run in them. But I think about the conversation Forrest said the two of them had…..ways to simply their lives and I wonder.

    • BW, would’nt it be gratifying to hear more about the lives Forrest and Mike were able to help and change through charitable kindness. Although, may be difficult to persuade ff to discuss his altruistic passions publicly.

      • When given for the right reason, a philanthropist will never even hint at their philanthropic endeavors. I believe Forrest is the president of that club. Maybe he will give more details about MK’s endeavors.

  8. Wow, what a magnificent home and what a wonderful love story.

    Out of curiosity, I looked up info on the house and in 2010 it was listed for sale for $12,900,000 in 2011 it was lowered to $9,990,000, in May 2013 it was lowered to $7,500,000 and in Oct 2013 it was taken off the market. Zillow now estimates the value at an unbelievably low price of $3,300,000. Sad that such a wonderful place has not been purchased by someone that would love and appreciate it as much as MK and Susan did.

    • Sadly CJ, the economy in NM has not rebounded as well as the rest of the country.
      The good news is many Hollywood types have discovered the bargains that they can easily afford. 🙂

  9. Yes a beautiful house. I have had as a mason the opportunity to work on some projects of this magnitude . One of the last projects I worked on consisted of thirteen full entrance archways both front and back. The archways are corbeled and there is a full set of stone steps that go into the wine room down stairs with nichos that have candle lighting. It is in Montana in whitefish hills estate. Whoever did the brick in MK’S house was a good mason and did a beautiful job. Also MK must have reconized talent when he hired the masons to do that job. Nice story Forrest …

    • Hi Woody, you are blessed with talent as the masonry artist for such homes. Close family friends own Alpine Log Homes in Victor. Wondered if you’ve worked with them in the Flathead valley or elsewhere. All beautiful projects.

      • I built an Alpine Log home in Colorado in 1989. Scott was Alpines architect/planner who I worked with at Alpine. I had drawn a clerestory into my drawings and he said they had never done one in a log home, but I was not going to eliminate it, so Scott had to make it work. I did not have any elaborate stone work, but it was a great home. Alpine does the best log homes.

        • @jmb – what a fun connection. While I don’t know the Alpine crew, I’ve known the owners – Martins my entire life. Their homes are stunning handsome. Do you have a website where I can enjoy seeing your work? I’ve not an ounce of talent, but have immeasurable appreciation for others gifts. Thanks for responding 🙂

          • No website. It was my personal home and the only log home I ever built – and then did an addition on to it – also Alpine log. Scott worked with me on that too. He may still be there?

  10. Interesting thing is Forrest idea what to do with a bone fragment, intumb it into something and cover the entrance. This idea was already his ideal 7 years ago when he made her necklace so I think this puts us on a correct path.

  11. to FF from the teacher in Detroit. I love the symbolism of your silver gift to Susan. Your touched the truth that a man may remarry but women who have experienced a deep love often do not remarry. that hollow spot in their heart remains open until they see the love of their life in the great beyond.

  12. I wish I could write like that and hide things in my writing. I will just have to give it a shot. Forrest in the near future check your email for a hidden message from me. 🙂

  13. Well then, these digs are about as extreme opposites as one could imagine…no? MK’s finely appointed mansion and the San Lazaro dwellings are quite the contrast in living arrangements. For whatever reason, it seems to me that Susan appears very much at “home” in the Pueblo.

    Open ? for all,

    Does anyone have any idea why Mr. Fenn sometimes signs off with a single “f” and at other times he uses “ff” as in this story? Over to you dal for a little help here.

    • Wind-
      Someone brought the f vs ff question up awhile back and I don’t have Forrest’s exact response but it was something like …It just depends on how much of a hurry I am in…
      I think his answer was meant to suggest that sometimes he does one f and sometimes two…and sometimes none at all..
      It’s apparently completely arbitrary and without deeper meaning. Sometimes when he doesn’t put an f after his story I’ll ask if he wants one and he’ll say yes…so I add them…

      • Thank you dal. I find this curious. Really Mr. Fenn? Too big of a hurry to type an extra “f”. He must be the busiest person on the planet…better call Guiness to officially record Mr. Fenn as such…I think he would like that.

        Lot’s of possibilities as to the significance of the mystery “f” or “ff” or “_” to the Chase. I marvel at Mr. Fenn’s attention to detail and I do not believe that he does anything without purpose or nor that anything gets past him as oversight.

        • Okay Wind…but don’t forget sometimes I add the ff. He doesn’t tell me if he wants a single or a double…
          I always add an ff as opposed to a single f because I like the way it looks..
          So…if you want to pass some time…you could go thru all the scrapbooks. If you see no initial that’s the way he did it…if you see a single f that’s also the way he sent it. If you see a double f it could be the way he sent it or it could be that he told me to add something…I always add a double..

          • Thank you so much dal for the clarification. I was about to accuse Mr. Fenn of being too tired and weak regarding typing the double “f”

  14. Hey Wind, you are always respectful to me and I have addressed you as WS, Wind, or WindSurfer. Don’t forget Mr. Fenn gets at least 100 emails a day and probably responds if the people are nice and not asking for clues. Just curious, do you think 1 or 2 F’s matters as long as it’s not a school grade?

    • Hi Swan,

      I do not think it matters in terms of one’s ability to find the TC in the end, but as an engineer and for the sake of thoroughness I do not discount it and based on what dal has offered, I think that 1 “f” is more appropriate for Mr. Fenn particularly since he seems to struggle for D’s. Some people many eons ago felt that the “f” may in fact be the blaze. I say maybe…maybe not…I could be convinced either way I suppose at this point.

      For the record, my last communication with Mr. Fenn was to offer a recipe for a Pimento Cheese sandwich that showed up in the Denver Post around Super Bowl time this past year. For you old timers, recall that one of the very early scrapbooks was an out of the blue request by Mr. Fenn for just such a recipe. I spent the next year and a half looking for blazes disguised as pimentos on GE and I can hear Mr. Fenn laughing even today….all in good fun.

      I did not receive a reply from him regarding the tastiness of the recipe. I do not send him email today because of fear of hackers that had infiltrated either mine or his email and really created problems with our communications where I thought I could see curiousvresponses by people on dal’s blog that related to what I had sent to Mr. Fenn. Mr. Fenn confirmed to me that my very first email was indeed hacked so who knows if it was ever cleared up at the time. It seemed kind of like speaking through a medium and it totally confused Mr. Fenn who was caught unawares in the middle and also myself due to the strangeness of it all. In the end, I think Mr. Fenn put me in the “nutcase” file…well, maybe that is where I belong.

      • Wind.Star, James, Im busy with work getting ready for a presentation to an important new client out of town. I won’t be blogging. Just letting you know since you’re the ones I usually connect with.

  15. Windsurfer, When did you send your first email to Forrest? I wonder how many emails to him has been hacked. Did he say how he knew your email was hacked?
    Thanks for the info.

    • ritt-
      I can help with that. It was back at the end of February 2013. It was his form email on his website that was hacked, not his regular email. Someone named Sid Kid busted in and literally swiped Forrest’s incoming mail. He answered some of them pretending to be Forrest and trying to get people to tell him where the treasure was. It might have worked except for a couple of things:
      1. Nobody except Forrest knows where the treasure is at.
      2. Instead of using Forrest’s email to respond to the letters he used his own Sid Kid email
      3. He was impolite and demanding so if folks didn’t notice it was not Forrest’s email they were very suspicious with the temperament of the response which was very different than Forrest’s temperament.

      He finally gave Forrest all the emails that he stole back and Forrest and Terri, his IT person quickly upgraded security on the webmail and there has been no problem since. Microsoft also patched the hole the kid was using so that the technique he used does not work anymore..

      His email is buttoned up tight now..

      • Dal….Thank you so much for this information and all that you have done for us searchers. It’s good to know that I can still reach Forrest by email and not worry about it being hacked.

      • Yes dal, you have this correct. I sent my first email to Mr. Fenn back in Feb 2013 and I immediately got a reply. This really surprised me because I really did not expect a reply at all so I was a little suspicious. I opened the sender identification on the email and it did indeed show someone named Sid Kid. I then sent this info. back to Mr. Fenn via a separate email and Mr. Fenn replied informing me of the hack job.

        how my later emails appeared to generate meaningful replies from posters on your website…i have no idea…probably my little brain playing mind games, but I am more cautious these days as a result.

  16. Well someday Mr. Fenn we will find out how much fun you really had writing this particular scrapbook 84. Will we ever find out how many hints are sprinkled in your stories? If the chest is found (and the location revealed) I look forward to reviewing these scrapbook pages and comments. Just to see how right or – most likely- wrong I really am. Keep the stories coming…we seem to have a thirst for more.

    • A type of Hint Key that will be locked away till the chest is found. Just a thought.
      Anyways, notice the entrance to the “secret” chamber in which Susan is sitting. If you thumb through pages in TTOTC you will notice several pictures which are cut in the same peculiar shape.

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