Nate’s Masterwork

When we were doing our first renovation at our old house in Lincolnshire, a two-story add-on of an all-season sunroom and a doubling of our master bedroom at 302 Carlisle Lane, Nate was almost, or just, five years old. He was already quite proficient on the computer and spent hours on Microsoft Paint (he still does). Nate would make cross sections of houses, two floors worth of geometric shapes signifying beds, mirrors, sinks, etc.

There were two things he did that were remarkable. One, he could manipulate, quickly and with great skill, the shapes on Paint. I never realized how hard it was until I feebly attempted to make a simple Mickey Mouse face and couldn’t get the circles right. Two, he would make a panel per day, rooms separated by ceiling/floor, without the guide of his previous work. When he was finished, he would tape the new piece to the old, and they would line up perfectly. To get Nate interacting, we asked him to show our builder, Ted, one of his floor plans. Nate ran and got it, handing it over silently. I could tell Ted was expecting some childish work, which it was. What he wasn’t prepared for was the intricate perspective, Nate’s shrinking shapes showing depth as the viewer peeked into bathrooms and closets. Ted was impressed.

Nate remains in love with our old house (as do I). After our 2007 visit to Chicago, Nate saw that the new owners were expanding the two-car garage to three, and adding a room on the top floor. With that, he embarked on a major project. Every day, he would squirrel away pieces of cardboard from an Amazon or Ebay delivery. Hunkered down at the dining room table, Nate began to draw the house, room by room, wall by wall, his Wheat Thins can of colored pencils at his side. It was painstaking work, done with the dedication to detail that marks Nate. And, as he was able to do instinctively 13 years before, each piece would fit exactly as he assembled.

Here’s what it looks like:

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[What you see on the walls is what was there when we moved in 2003. His recall is near total. Nate’s room was on the second floor. The oval window above the front door was in his closet. Note the bicycles drawn on the garage wall. Like a movie set, you can see past the missing ceiling to get a sense of the first floor. I love the fireplace! He captured the kitchen well (the island is blurry).]


About Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is the former Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.
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