ROCK RAPIDS, Iowa (STPNS) -- Old John Miller would be mighty proud.

Sitting on the table in Marv and Dot Diekevers? kitchen is a car dealership ? a model, that is, sawed and hammered and painted and decorated by Marv this past winter. It?s a scaled-down version of Hamill Chevrolet in Sheldon, painted blue and white, with moving bay doors and labels that say ?SERVICE? and ?SALES,? just like the real thing.

The project is a gift for Peter and Maxwell Hamill, two of the Diekevers? five great-grandsons, and it is the latest in a line of strikingly real buildings Marv Diekevers has built for the youngsters in his extended family.



The Index-Reporter found out about the dealership just before its completion, in early April, and convinced Diekevers to reminisce a bit. Turns out he has been doing woodwork since his summers as a teenager in Boyden, helping Miller the carpenter.

?We did barns, and shingling,? he says, nonchalantly sounding exactly like someone who grew up when most kids actually worked with their hands. ?We used to fool around with cars a lot, too.?

Touring Diekevers? workshop, it?s clear that he likes to ?fool around? ? and a lot more.

Rows of tools are neatly lined up, arranged by size, on hooks. Nails, screws and bolts are sorted in matching jars. The floor is swept clean, and the only thing even slightly out of order is the new toy: a pressure washer, which has been taken out of its box and is waiting on the counter for a sunny day when the driveway needs a shower.

?I spend a lot of time here in the wintertime ? can?t golf, you know,? Diekevers explains. ?My wife sits and reads books from the library, and I work on these [projects].?

Everything has a place and a purpose, even the two side-by-side work surfaces. One is at normal height, and the other is about a foot lower, designed especially for Diekevers? son, Mark.

?I built a lot with Mark when he was a kid,? Diekevers says.

But when the kids grew up and Diekevers moved toward retirement, the creative juices started to flow.

In 1988, he built a 6?x10? playhouse for his three granddaughters, wrapped it in plastic and towed it 500 miles to their home in Peoria, Illinois. In the years following, he built a dollhouse for each granddaughter, and the winter before last, he did a barn for his other three great-grandsons.

Each piece, including the dealership, is meant to be used.

?After a year, it won?t look like that anymore,? Diekevers says, laughing. It?s not hard to imagine the 3-year-old Maxwell and the 5-year-old Peter zooming their cars through the Plexiglas sliding doors, or setting up ?shop? inside the sturdy wooden walls.

Almost every part of the dealership, as with the other projects, came from local businesses like the Hull Lumberyard, DeJong Hardware and Marra Pro Stripes.

So what?s next on the agenda for this handyman? Diekevers doesn?t hesitate a bit.

?Golfing for the summer,? he says.