Monday, July 21, 2008
Limey Kay was a stonemason, a bricklayer, and a colorful character. He was also my neighbor in La Honda, California.
All around La Honda and the Santa Cruz Mountains you come upon samples of his work - a brick fence post, a barbecue, a chimney, or a wall.
Limey had a distinct style. Often he mixed abalone shells among his bricks.
Sometimes he added scallop shells and mussels.
Often he added a whimsical touch.
Limey's old house, which is just up the street from my own, is an eclectic mix of brick and stone reflecting, I suppose, different stages of his growth as a craftsman.
It's a small house, but it has six chimneys. No two are alike.
Consistency and symmetry were of not much interest to Limey Kay. Neither were foundations, so some of his work hasn't held up particularly well.
Every day I'd see Limey walking down the road past my house on the way to Applejacks, our local bar. He moved like a cat. I always marveled that a man so old, who had spent his life lifting stones and bricks, could be so limber. Alcohol, apparently, works as a lubricant ... for a while.
Limey could be your sworn enemy one day, and the next day he could hand you a flower. He didn't always have the firmest grasp of finances. One day he walked into our local realtor's office and said, "I hate to do it but I'm broke and I'm gonna have to sell my house." The realtor replied, "Limey, I hate to tell you but I already sold your house for you - three years ago."
The house remains. It's on a steep hillside. Landslides and earthquakes and falling trees have done their damage. The current owner, who loves Limey's craftsmanship, is working to restore it.
Limey died in 2005, but his gun-toting, hard-drinking, cantankerous, fun-loving spirit lives on in La Honda, as well as examples of his craft. He was a folk artist, a pain in the butt, a one-of-a-kind stylist, and I salute him.