The Purple Door
Welcome to a little village on the outskirts of Geneva where Hank and Jean Stewart are living with their boys Duke and Jason. Yes, you have met them before. They are still trying to adapt to the Swiss way of life after causing some small disturbances. They put an old truck in their garden (in the meanwhile replaced by an old Swiss ski lift cabin), decided to paint their door (the red background and the white cross was just a little bit too Swiss) and eventually managed to almost insult the Swiss nation by putting up a flag in their garden showing the Stars and Stripes. Thanks to an idea of Mrs. Stewart, it was replaced by a Swiss flag (with a reverse side still showing the stars and stripes).
There are just some things you cannot do in Switzerland. However, Hank had now been working in the Swiss office of his American based company for almost a year and was actually enjoying life in Switzerland. He had developed a taste for Swiss wine and his wife just loved Swiss chocolate. Duke’s knowledge of yodelling had become so good that he was one of the best in his group and both of the boys had found two nice girls, the daughters of Charles the local police officer. Things could not be better or….
“Hey mum, what do you think?”
“What do I think about what Jason?”
“About Abe, of course.”
“Who Abe Lincoln?”
“Well sort of, come and have a look?”
“OK, son, what’s this all about Abe? But that’s a dog, a sweet little dog, and his name is Abe. You mean the Swiss are calling their dogs names like our presidents?”
“Not quite mum, you know Jeanette’s dog had puppies and they can’t keep all of them, so I said we would have one. You do like dogs don’t you mum?”
“Well sure Jason, but I would be glad if you told me first of all. He sure is a sweet little thing, but how comes he has a spotted belly and the rest is black?”
“Yea, well, that was a bit of a problem. Jeanette’s dog is a Dalmatian, you know one of those spotted ones and the dog escaped out and met the St. Bernard from next door. The puppies are a bit of a mixture. How do you find the name, mum, I thought Abe is a good name.”
“Son, what is that you have there, a dog?”
“Yes dad, isn’t he lovely. I got him from Jeanette, my girl friend. Her father Charles, you know the nice policeman, said she could ask me if I would take one. They still have five if you want more.”
“No, son, not really, I don’t think I really want one.”
“Oh, Hank” said Jean “you know you love dogs and he is such a cute little thing.”
“But where are we going to put him?”
“Well dad, I though he could live in the Swiss ski lift cabin until you make something for him.”
“Oh, come on Hank, you can make him a nice little house, something like the barns we have in our home country. Just some wood pieced together will do fine.” said Jean.
Hank did roll his eyes but decided he was outnumbered, especially when Duke came home from his yodel classes and saw the dog.
“Hey Jason, he is great, although I would have called him Washington.”
“No I think Abe sounds better, and dad is going to build him a home, just like the barn gramps had out on his ranch.”
So fate was sealed and the next day Hank began to saw the wooden planks to make a nice all American barn for Abe. Naturally there was a small problem.
“Good morning, Michelle, Marcel” Jean greeted her neighbours from across the road.
“Good morning Jean” they answered. Mrs. Le Blanc was not really keen on being on first name terms with the Americans, but Marcel told her it was normal in the States.
“Looks like Hank is busy building” said Marcel Le Blanc.
“What is it going to be this time?” said Michelle Le Blanc “a White House copy?”.
“Oh no” said Jean, “a nice little home for our doggy.”
“I see” answered Mrs. Le Blanc. As soon as they arrived home Michelle looked at Marcel with her “call the police” look.
“What’s wrong now, Michelle. Hank is only building a small hut for his dog.”
“Have they got planning permission? You know in Switzerland you have to stake out the outline of a building before it is put up at least a month ahead, in case there are objections.”
“Yes, but Michelle, who is going to object to a small dog house.”
“It does not look very small to me. Just wait until it is finished, then we will see” was the answer.
After a few days work Hank was proud of the barn replica he had made for Abe and Abe was happy to have a nice house to live in. It even had windows at the side and a weather vane on the roof to show the direction the wind was blowing. Then it happened. There was a knock at the door and Hank opened the door and guess who was standing there – why Charles and Jacques the two village policemen.
“Hi Charles, Jacques nice to see you again. Don’t say it, I know, there is something wrong with our dog house.”
“Well not really Hank, it is a very nice dog house.”
“So Charles, we are not here to compliment Mr. Stewart on his building qualities, remember. He did not seek permission from the Swiss authorities to build it.”
“Something wrong Hank” and Jean came to the door.
“Seems we were supposed to get permission to build a home for Abe.”
“But it’s only a dog house” answered Jean.
“Yes Mrs. Stewart, that may be the case, but it is not correct. Mrs. Le Blanc has already registered an official complaint. She said the weather vane distracts her every time it changes directions.”
“Ok I will remove it” answered Hank.
“Sorry Hank, but that is not the only problem. It seems that the actual building is a bit too, well, you know, just a little bit too American. Now if it were something in the Swiss way of things……. I am sorry Hank, but you know Mrs. Le Blanc.”
“It’s ok Charles, I will replace it with something more suitable.”
“Yes, Mr. Stewart, but put the outline up before you start building” said Jacques and the two policemen left.
“You know what Hank” said Jean “I think that policeman called Charles is quite nice, but I am not too keen on that Jacques.”
“You are right honey, but the law is the law and I have a good idea.”
The next day Hank removed Abe’s barn and Abe had to move back into the ski lift cabin. Then Hank got busy and put the outlines up for a new dog house, without weather vane. He waited a month and was glad there were no objections, especially as Abe was getting bigger and the ski lift just was not very suitable for a dog.
Hank then got busy and eventually constructed a new home for Abe. Now there were no complaints. How could any Swiss citizen object to a smaller version of a Swiss mountain chalet in the garden? A lot of Swiss have them, but they are not usually used as a dog house. Abe had the best dog house in the village. Why, he even had curtains at the windows and a balcony on the top floor. Oh yes, as you know barns are quite high buildings. So Hank kept the height and found that it was just right to build two floors in the chalet.
Michelle Le Blanc was a bit annoyed, but was soon satisfied when Marcel, her husband, also built a smaller version of a Swiss chalet in their garden, although without dog.