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tv   On the Record With Greta Van Susteren  FOX News  February 7, 2016 6:00pm-7:01pm PST

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make live -- >> better, cheaper, more abundant and available than before. >> i can't wait. and that's our show. thank you for watching. >> i can remember being a little kid and asking my father what it was. >> a century-old mystery. >> he said, "it's from the white house." and i go, "talking about d.c. white house?" i was just stunned. >> the white house neither confirms nor denies... >> what do you see? >> gold! [ laughs ] >> let's investigate! >> i scrape the paint layers down to the wood. >> and when you heard what it was worth? >> and sold! [ door creaks ] [ wind howls ] [ thunder rumbles ] [ bird caws ] >> i'm jamie colby, and today i'm in boston to meet an heir
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who has an inheritance so strange, it takes years just to figure out what it is. >> my name is mike meister. my siblings and i inherited something that goes back to our great-uncle more than a hundred years ago. we'd always been told that it came from the white house, but it was just a family story. hi, jamie. welcome to boston. >> thanks, mike. nice to meet you. >> yeah, nice to meet you, too. >> mike leads me inside, saying he has something amazing to show me. he keeps it in its own molded, air-tight protective case. can i take a look? >> sure can. >> you brought me all the way here, mike. this is... what is it? mike's strange inheritance is this piece of decorative pinewood. 30 inches long, 14 inches across, four inches thick. on the back is a faint signature and a date -- j.s. williamson, october 15, 1902. >> there's a real story behind it. family legend is that it's from
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the white house. >> could that be? the white house does have a colorful past. it's nearly completed at the end of john adams' presidency. he moves in in november 1800, but stays only a few months. thomas jefferson spends two terms there before handing the keys to james madison. then british troops set it ablaze in the war of 1812. [ indistinct shouting ] first lady dolley madison orders the staff to remove this beloved portrait of george washington by gilbert stuart. but according to william seale, author of two books on the white house, the building's interior is destroyed. >> they burned the second floor with rubble, and then they broke up all the furniture and poured lamp oil on it. and the attic fell in, and then it burned through the main floor and the whole thing, in about two hours, was just a
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shell. >> after the war, the original architect, james hoban, rebuilds it exactly as it had been -- in what will become known as the federal style. >> president madison decreed that it be rebuilt as a symbol of survival. >> by 1817, the renovation is almost complete and our fifth president, james monroe, moves in. a dozen years later, the seventh, andrew jackson, lets a drunken mob trash the place during his inaugural ball. maybe this poor piece of wood was part of the collateral damage. who knows? over the years, presidents come and presidents go, redecorating, repainting, and renovating to suit their individual tastes. then, in 1902, theodore roosevelt begins the first wholesale restoration of the mansion that he officially names "the white house." it's time to pick up the thread
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of this strange inheritance story. according to mike meister, in 1902, his great-uncle, joseph williamson jr., is a law student at georgetown university in d.c. one day, he strolls down pennsylvania avenue, spots the piece of wood in a junk pile, and thinks, "it's pretty neat." >> joseph jr. picked it up. >> like a yard sale? did they buy it? >> no, it was scrap. i mean, it was things that were gonna be eventually hauled off to landfills, burned, whatever. >> he brings it home to illinois from law school and gives it to his father as a memento. his dad inscribes his name and writes the date on the back. the piece is handed down in the family to mike's dad, wayne meister, in the 1930s. where was it kept? >> it was in the basement of our house out in illinois -- a farm that my parents bought after world war ii. and it was hanging on a wall. i can remember being a little kid and asking my father what it was. and he would say, "that's a
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piece of the white house." >> did you believe him? you're a farm kid in illinois, and your parents have a piece of a white house? >> when he said something, it meant he wasn't making things up. >> pretty cool, though it's just one conversation piece in a house that wayne and his wife, ann, pack with all sorts of gewgaws, knickknacks, and odd antiques. >> one of their hobbies was going to auctions and tag sales and finding things of value, and then, if they needed refinishing, they would refinish them. >> did they ever consider taking sandpaper or a paintbrush to that mysterious hunk of wood in the cellar? mike shudders to think. >> what if she decided, "this ugly old thing, i'm gonna strip the paint"? but she certainly never did. >> are you kidding? that could have happened? >> well, it didn't. >> in 1964, the meisters -- and a moving van full of antiques -- relocate to massachusetts. it's there, during christmastime in 1988, that mike, all grown
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up, announces he's getting married. >> we had a family dinner to meet the in-laws. and my brother-in-law, larry forrest, was there. >> that night, mike brings larry into the attic. >> i said to larry, "i want to show you something," and i took him upstairs, and i showed him. it was in a moving box from 1964. >> they didn't even unpack it. >> no, no. >> mike pulled out a piece out of the box, and he said, "it's from the white house." and i go, "talking about d.c. white house?" he goes, "yeah." i was just stunned. if you asked somebody what's the most important building in our history, they're gonna say the white house. and here it was, sitting right next to me. >> did mike ask you to learn more about it for him? >> the more we got talking about it, we said, "let's find out where this came from." >> but it's just talk, and it will be for years. mike's dad dies in 1996, and his mom in 2001. only then do the meister kids
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begin to deal with any of the old stuff their parents accumulated. did your parents leave a will? >> we had a trust. >> did they specify? >> not in that particular case, no. to clean the house out, to send things to auction, and sell it, it was probably a good three months. but we kept a lot of the things, too, that meant something to each one of us. >> one of the things they keep is that distressed hunk of wood. >> there was no way we were gonna sell that, because we didn't even know what it was. >> what you think it was? >> an architectural element from the white house. but we had no idea what. >> it's not until 2007 that brother-in-law larry forrest convinces the meister family they need to get some answers. and he takes on the role of lead his first line of inquiry -- the white house itself. >> i spoke to a gentleman, and i told him about what the family had. and after the laughter and telling me that that wasn't possible, i said, "we're pretty sure, it's written on the back,"
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and so forth. and he goes, "it's probably from some other old building or whatever." >> but larry persists. his letters, his calls turn up nothing. then after two solid years, his search leads him to historian and author bill seale. >> i said, "can i just send you pictures?" so when he received them, he called me back and he goes, "i swear i've seen it." >> was it a eureka moment? that's next. >> but first, our "strange inheritance" quiz question. the current oval office was not built until 1934, when f.d.r. was president. the answer when we return. hey! this is lloyd. to prove to you that the better choice for him is aleve. he's agreed to give it up. ok, but i have 30 acres to cover by sundown. we'll be with him all day as he goes back to taking tylenol. yeah, i was ok, but after lunch my knee started hurting again so...
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before taking myrbetriq... ...tell your doctor if you have liver or kidney problems. common side effects include increased blood pressure... ...common cold symptoms, urinary tract infection... ...and headache. it's time for you to make the calls, so call your doctor to see if ...myrbetriq may be right for you. visit to learn more. >> the answer is "b," a laundry drying area. but if you said "c," you might know that the first formal executive office was created by f.d.r.'s fifth cousin, theodore roosevelt, and today is known as the roosevelt conference room. >> for years, mike meister was told his father had a family heirloom like no other -- a decorative piece of wood with peeling paint, reputed in family lore to be from the white house. the problem -- nobody knows how to find out if the story is true. it's become an irresistible mystery to mike and his
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brother-in-law, larry forrest, who are determined to solve it. larry's inquiries are all met by laughter and blank stares, until he calls author and historian bill seale. >> he was skeptical that it could be the actual white house. so i said, "can i just send you pictures?" >> what was your initial reaction? >> well, i thought it looked suspicious. [ laughs ] and so, i didn't tell them much until i researched it. >> did you say, "ah, just leave it in the attic another 50 years. it'll be fine"? >> no. no, i was too curious for that. >> in fact, the meisters' photos have bill scratching his head. >> he called me back, and he goes, "i swear i've seen it." >> bill is remembering a particular photo from 1898, during the mckinley administration, that he used in one of his books about the white house. the photo shows a hallway called the cross hall. >> this is the cross hall. it's used a lot now.
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started by president george w. bush. >> there it is. >> and this is that march to the east room. in those days, you had a grand staircase here. >> and then, suddenly, bill spots it -- off in the corner, between a chair and a potted plant. right there -- see it? look familiar? sure looks like mike's strange inheritance. and there it is, in the white house, in 1898, when william mckinley is president. >> and there is the plinth. it's the only one it could be because it's for that side. >> i'd never heard of a plinth. what is a plinth? >> it's a base of a column that runs up the wall. >> how many were there? >> well, there were four. they were in niches in the hall where originally built for stoves. >> do we know where the other three are? >> no, nobody does. >> never been seen. so now i'm wondering, how does the plinth get from that cozy corner in the white house to the meister's attic? well, in september 1901,
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president mckinley is in buffalo, new york, at the pan-american exposition. he's shaking hands with the public, when an anarchist named leon czolgosz assassinates him. suddenly, vice president teddy roosevelt is sworn in. among his many big ambitions is a gut rehab of the executive mansion. >> 1902 was a major reshaping of the symbol of the white house into a more worldly time. america became more international, and the white house was redone to be compatible with that. >> t.r.'s goal is to return it to its original federalist incarnation, while clearing it out to accommodate a brood of six children and a pony. it also means separating the living quarters from our nation's most important executive offices. >> he moved the offices out of the family floor and built the west wing.
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he reorganized the place so it wasn't just an old plantation house. >> to that end, roosevelt's architects rearrange the entrance, removing this stairway and these victorian tiffany panels from the cross hall -- as well as all that old ornamental woodwork, like the plinths. the workers pile loads of rubbish outside, and souvenir hunters snatch it up. >> there is one letter from theodore roosevelt, and he said, "people are scattering around for souvenirs." >> so bill seale is beginning to believe that the meister family lore about great-uncle joseph must be true. and that this hunk of wood really is a relic of the white house, going all the way back to 1817, when president monroe moved in after that nasty business with the british. were you interested in it? >> very. i was stricken by it, to tell you the truth. >> so, something that looks like wood or plaster is actually a
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whole story, in and of itself? >> it's like dna. and the object has many, many things to say. >> and the next step is very much like a dna test. what they discover was that this strange inheritance was a lot more important and valuable an artifact than even bill seale had imagined. you're smiling. that's next. >> here's another quiz question for you. which amenity was added during the obama administration? was it the white house... the answer when we return. if you have high blood pressure like i do, many cold medicines may raise your blood pressure. that's why there's coricidin® hbp. it relieves cold symptoms without raising blood pressure. so look for powerful cold medicine with a heart. coricidin® hbp.
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[ bird caws ] >> it's "c." the white house tennis court was converted to a basketball court
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for the former high-school hoops player. >> it's november of 2009, and historian bill seale, based on this photograph, believes that mike meister likely inherited a rare and very important relic -- an actual piece of the white house. it's an ornamental piece of wood called a plinth that may have been removed during teddy roosevelt's 1902 renovation. in order to verify its authenticity, seale advises the family to have the paint analyzed. so mike and his brother-in-law, larry forrest, drive from boston to bryn mawr, pennsylvania, to meet with this guy, historic paint analyst frank welsh. >> he said, "you guys go out for a little while, i'm gonna do analysis on it, and see what i think." >> frank studies the paint layers with a magnifying glass, and then a stereo microscope, as he scrapes away each layer with an x-acto knife.
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>> then i start recording, starting with the layer closest to the wood numbering layers -- one, two, three, four -- all the way up to the most recent. >> well, we got a call in about half-hour, and he goes, "this is spot-on." there's 17 layers of paint on this, there's three layers of gold leaf on it. he said, "there's absolutely, 100%, exactly what it should be for that time period." >> everything seemed to line up very, very well. i felt very comfortable that the paints that i was looking at could easily be as old as they felt the plinth was. it is very unique. >> as t.r. would say, "that's bully!" in identifying those 17 layers of paint, frank may be the first person to open the door to a previously unknown decorative history of the white house. author bill seale matches each paint layer with a chapter in presidential history. >> if you want accuracy in history, here's the real thing.
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this is our only touch with those periods. >> bill does the math. there were 21 administrations between presidents james madison and teddy roosevelt. but three of them -- harrison, taylor, and garfield -- were exceptionally short due to death from illness or assassination. if the hallway isn't repainted during those presidencies, and maybe one president lacks the inclination to repaint, you've got your 17 layers right there. after generations of repeating their family legend, the meisters now know they spoke the truth all along. you went from rejection to respect. how'd that feel? >> we had solved a mystery. >> bill seale encourages them to donate the plinth on the spot to the white house historical association. they say they're inclined to, but first they need to find out what it's worth. did you have a number in mind that you thought it would be?
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>> no. >> what about you, larry? you did all the running around. >> you could shoot real high on this one, just from the fact of how much historical value it has. >> and when the meisters get the appraisal, they'll have some thinking to do. that's next. what's your "strange inheritance" story? we'd love to tell it. send me an e-mail or go to our website -- americans. we're living longer than ever. as we age, certain nutrients become especially important. from the makers of one a day fifty-plus. one a day proactive sixty-five plus. with high potency vitamin b12 and more vitamin d. how do you think imen got a girl like this? if you strip, romance will follow. crest whitestrips remove years of stains. try whitestrips and see what... ...stripping can do for you. ♪
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i was very surprised -- that was more than i expected it would be. >> who would buy such a thing? >> someone with the money to buy it, or someone that wants to buy it and give it to a museum or presidential library. >> historian bill seale is hoping the meister family will cut out the middleman, donate the plinth to the white house historical association themselves, and take a tax write-off. but that's a lot to ask of mike and his three siblings, who could be looking at walking away with $125,000 apiece. are you gonna sell? >> we're having it put up for auction. i think in the long run, and i'm hoping, that it'll be appreciated by many more people than might have been with the white house historical association. >> the meisters reach out to bobby livingston at rr auction in amherst, new hampshire. >> when i first laid eyes on the plinth, i was like, "wow! it's spectacular." as someone who handles a lot of historic items, when you see something like 17 layers
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of paint, it tells a story. >> he joins us live from new hampshire. >> next thing you know, the story is getting big media coverage, including on fox news. >> we've never, in 30 years, offered any pieces of the 1817 white house. because there's no, you know, photography from that era, it's incredibly important. we've had registrations from all over the world, so we expect the bidding to be quite lively. >> number 22 -- architectural ornament from the main hall of the white house. >> the meister family is on hand for the auction in boston in september 2015. >> $100,000, $100,000, $110,000. >> here we go. >> $120,000. looking for $120,000. >> the bidding starts to pick up a little momentum. >> $120,000, $130,000, $140,000. >> but then it just fizzles. >> $160,000 once, $160,000 twice. sold, $150,000. fantastic. >> it's nowhere near the half-million dollar appraisal,
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though a $150,000 is nothing to sneeze at. and mike reminds us that it wasn't only about the money but sharing a neat piece of america's past -- just like his ancestor, who wandered by the white house one day in 1902 and thought to snatch up a souvenir to send back home. is this the best case of being in the right place at the right time? >> i believe it is, i really do. i think from what we've learned of it and what hopefully other people can learn from it, i think it's a living piece of history. >> so, who bought mike meister's strange inheritance? well, we know this much -- a fox viewer. all bobby livingston would say is that one of those watching him on fox news before the auction was so intrigued, he phoned in and plunked down 150 grand. if you're watching now, enjoy your piece of history. and, remember -- you can't take
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it with you. i'm jamie colby. thanks for watching "strange inheritance." >> majestic trees thousands of years old... >> these are the biggest trees i've ever seen, and they're beautiful. >> the redwood forest has been on the planet since the dinosaurs. >> then the ax men cometh. one makes a redwood his ultimate log cabin... >> what? >> ...a log-rolling attraction. it's her strange inheritance. >> i was the only child, so i knew i was always gonna get the log. >> but the road takes its toll. >> it's hard to be the log lady and have a life and be the truck driver and the repair person and do it all. >> she's got a big decision to make. >> she sure does, jamie. she sure does. >> and what happens when it's time for the log to be inherited from you? [ suspenseful music plays ]
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[ door creaks ] [ wind howls ] [ thunder rumbles ] [ bird caws ] [ mid-tempo music plays ] >> i'm jamie colby, and today i'm heading to the annual blueberry festival in plymouth, indiana. it's not exactly the kind of place you'd expect to see a massive california redwood, but this tree rocks because it rolls. >> my name is jamie allen, and, in 1985, when i was 23, my father passed away, and he left me something that his father left him, and it's kept me on the road all my life. >> jamie? >> jamie? >> [ chuckles ] how are you? it's really great to meet you. and how funny we have the same name. let's get started, then. >> all right, here we go. >> this is one serious tree trunk. [ mid-tempo folk music plays ] and the "root" of the story, according to jamie, is in the late 1930s...
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when her grandfather, james allen, is a lumberjack in northern california. james, a widower with a son in the army, sees redwood trees so massive that several men can easily fit inside the hollowed trunks. one day, during a sudden rain squall, he seeks shelter in the trunk of a giant redwood. that's when it occurs to james that he could actually make a home out of one. >> it was the tail end of the depression. he couldn't afford to buy a regular house. my grandma had already passed away. >> so james allen combs the forest for a suitable tree. he finally discovers the perfect one on the property of the georgia-pacific lumber company, near eureka, california. >> he traded the lumber company for that section of log for work. and then it took him four months to burrow out all the wood and a year and a half to complete the house.
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it was all done by hand. >> today, most of those lumber mills are gone. what was once called the "redwood empire" is now a state park. >> welcome to humboldt redwoods state park. >> oh, my gosh. these trees are so beautiful. >> and they're the tallest trees on the planet. let's go. >> emily burns, a tree scientist with the save the redwoods league, says there is a reason this part of the country grows such towering trees. >> the fog rolls in to the coast redwood forest from the pacific ocean, and these trees collect it, and they take in that water directly into their leaves, and they also rain it down to the forest floor, helping all the other plants and animals. come check out this tree over here. what you're looking at is a history of fire, really. this burned-out cave is called a "goose pen." >> oh, my gosh. go inside? >> go inside, yeah. >> and it could survive this? >> actually, this tree is fine. it's still growing well. and it's created an amazing habitat for species like bats.
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do you like bats? >> not really. are they in here? >> they might be. they might be right up above you. >> oh, well, it was nice to see it. >> [ laughs ] [ soft music plays ] >> chopping down a tree so old is hard to fathom now, but, beginning with the 1849 gold rush, these behemoths supply a lot of lumber needed to settle northern california. >> as the miners were looking for gold, the redwoods started to be cut down to build cities like san francisco. >> even into the 1930s and '40s, redwood trees were still cut down by hand axes and whipsaws. it could take days for a 2-man team to fell a 12-foot-diameter tree. a log could easily weigh 50 tons. >> we've lost 95% of ancient forests like this one to harvest. this is one forest you won't find any other place on the planet. >> so, if this is it and i am
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here, can i hug a tree? >> i hope you will. the tree is ready. >> you're calling out to me. give me a squeeze! ah! it's not hard to grasp why americans love their redwoods -- a must-stop on many a family car trip since before the interstate. maybe even you have gassed up at this filling station built entirely out of three redwood tree trunks or driven through this famous arch. used to cost a quarter. today, it's five bucks. but remember, back in 1939, jamie's grandfather isn't looking to create a roadside attraction. he simply wanted a place to hang his hat. [ mid-tempo march plays ] that tree he picked out was 1,900 years old. think about that. when it was just a seed, the roman empire was at its height. as it grew, rome fell... islam rose...
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columbus sailed... the colonies rebelled... napoleon won -- and lost... and the wright brothers flew. >> he built the log and lived in it for seven years. >> right there in the forest -- until word gets out of the old fella living in a log. >> people would come and knock on the door and say, "what's in there?" so he used to take the log to schools. >> just load it on a trailer. presto -- a mobile home. in the late 1950s, james sr. passes away, leaving his only son, world war ii vet and traveling salesman james elwin allen, his unusual home. so the son of a lumberjack decides to take it cross-country, maybe make a buck while sharing his strange inheritance with the world. he sets off for parts unknown. his travels eventually lead him to canada and a rodeo show
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called the calgary stampede. there he meets 18-year-old iris keiver. they're both smitten and soon get married. what do you think your mother thought about her husband driving around the country with a log house? >> i think it must've been very intriguing because my mother married my father, and that was a very unusual lifestyle. >> when baby jamie is born in 1961, james allen jr. packs up his young wife and daughter and heads right back out on the circuit, traveling the u.s. to fairs, carnivals, and exhibitions. >> i grew up in a family atmosphere of traveling people, and we just happened to have a log. >> step right up, put a nickel in the donation box, and see james allen's incredible cabin made from a genuine california redwood. your dad was able to support the family off of change donations? >> we had the log, a fudge
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business, and he sold a lot of different types of products. >> so he was really a pro at this traveling business. >> he had his hands in so many pies it wasn't even funny. >> and it's not every day you get to walk through a tree. now that i heard your story, i've got to go inside. >> please go right in and see how beautiful it really is. >> that's next. what? >> but first -- our "strange inheritance" quiz question... the answer when we return.
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a safe sleep aid plus the 12-hour pain relieving strength of aleve. and now... i'm back. aleve pm for a better am. >> so, what is america's most visited national park? it's "a," the great smoky mountains in tennessee -- gets about 10 million visitors a year. >> it's not often you get the chance to walk through a 1,900-year-old redwood tree. i'll be out of the other side, i assume. >> i'll meet you at the other end. [ upbeat music plays ] >> welcome inside jamie allen's strange inheritance. what? [ chuckling ] oh, my god. look at this kitchen! the kitchen boasts a vintage hotplate and a sanitary brand refrigerator from the 1940s.
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i did not expect this -- full kitchen, original kitchen, all-wood cabinets? in fact, every built-in facet of the log's interior is made entirely of redwood, hand-sanded, varnished, and polished to a glossy finish. to keep it that way, jamie tells me she polishes the entire interior from floor to ceiling every night. huh. look at that. that's how it was made. the pictures hanging in this gallery are jamie's only remaining photos of her grandpa. they chronicle his amazing endeavor -- the cutting of a tree 1,900 years old, the stump cut 14 feet in diameter. amazing. i'm imagining the four months it took for her grandpa to hollow out this log and then 18 months to painstakingly hand-build this redwood interior -- just tall enough to accommodate his 6-foot
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frame and everything else he needed. it's a whole home -- couch, living room, dining room. bedroom? unbelievable. oh. this is beautiful! wow, jamie. it's like an elegant home inside. >> it's beautiful, isn't it? [ upbeat music plays ] >> and it's been home to jamie allen her whole life. >> i can't ever remember not living with a log. when i was a baby, my mother put me in a cardboard box because they didn't have a big crib to take with them. you can't carry a big crib in a log. [ country western music plays ] >> but when jamie turns five, her parents divorce. five years old? >> they just couldn't live together, you know? in the wintertime, my dad would come to town where i was going to school. he would come and stay at the apartment we lived in. >> and every summer, she joins her father on the road.
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>> my dad always had me in the log. he'd give me 15 minutes at lunch, a half an hour at dinner, and 15 minutes at around 9:00. my father always knew where i was when i was a teenager. >> and it sounds like you loved it and you loved him. >> oh, a lot. >> when jamie turns 16, she goes full time on the fair-and-festival circuit, traveling with her dad. it's big-time bonding for father and daughter, but does he really want this life for his girl? coming up... >> i looked at my father like, "what, are you out of your mind?" >> but first... >> here's another quiz question for you... the answer when we return.
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so, what city lays claim to the oldest state fair? it's "a." the new york state fair began in syracuse in 1841 and remains one of the largest in the u.s. >> happy blueberry festival to you. i'm at the indiana blueberry festival with jamie allen and her strange inheritance -- a cabin her grandfather carved out of a 1,900-year-old redwood. how many people do you think you meet a year as a result of traveling with a log? >> millions. [ chuckles ] literally, millions of people. >> she's been at it since she was a kid. for years, she crisscrossed the country with her dad. what's here? >> this is my friend mike mcneil, and he was a good friend of my father's, as well, so i thought he was somebody you might like to meet. >> oh, you mean you didn't just bring me over here to have something with sprinkles? >> [ laughs ] >> mike mcneil has run a
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traveling concession stand like this one for 40 years. he and jamie's father crossed paths many times. >> jamie's dad was a good businessman, and he had a good heart, too, which is what you want people to say about you. >> okay... what i want is to see if mike's cheesecake is any good. >> wait a minute. >> ooh! they have everything inside. >> there you go. >> uh-huh. is this new york cheesecake? >> no, it's better. this is philadelphia. >> nothing is better -- oh, philadelphia? >> you haven't tried this. >> okay, so, what's the first step? >> dip it in the chocolate and pull it out. >> nice! >> pull it way up. >> okay, i would like sprinkles. >> sprinkles? right there. >> may i? >> go ahead. please do. >> i think i have to. >> you're gonna like that. >> mmm. >> there you go. >> give me a minute. give me a minute. wow! >> i told you that you would like that. [ laughs ]
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>> the thing is, cheesecake on a stick is heavenly -- on that one weekend a year the fair comes to town... not so much when every weekend's the fair and every weekday's spent creeping down the highway to the next venue. but this was the life of james allen and the life he saw his daughter backing in to. >> i was the only child, so i knew i was always gonna get the log. >> all parents hope their kids have options, and, in 1978, when jamie is 17 years old, a stranger stops by the cabin and offers one. >> my dad approached me, and he said, "a man's very interested in buying the log. would you be interested in selling?" >> but i looked at my father like, "what, are you out of your mind? no, i don't want the money. i want the log." >> was not continuing what he did with the log ever an option for you? >> oh, no. when i was little and they asked me, "what are you gonna be when you grow up?" i'd say, "just like my dad." [ folk music plays ]
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>> seven years later, in 1985, her dad dies of cancer. jamie, only 23, receives her strange inheritance, and, for the next 30 years, she's indeed just like her dad. any regrets that your dad didn't take that offer? >> no, it's a labor of love for me. >> you have any children? >> nope, just three dogs and a cat. >> and a boyfriend, buddy, who travels with her on the circuit. how much time do you spend with this log of yours? >> oh, i spend a lot of time with my log -- 14, 16 hours a day when we're showing, probably 4 to 6 months a year. >> and you make a living doing this? >> i try. it's not as lucrative as it used to be. it's taking its toll on me and the log. the roads are rough on it. we only get to go 56 miles an hour because you can't move it very quickly. i get four miles to the gallon.
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bungees, buddy. >> are you losing money on this proposition? >> i think i'm breaking even. you know, i'm just floating along. >> how much money did you make off this venture last year? >> i think we took in maybe about $20,000. >> do you think about what will happen when you can't drive a rig anymore? >> well, the show's got to go on. we don't have a choice. >> or does she? [ upbeat music plays ] she's got a big decision to make. >> she sure does, jamie. >> that's next. what's your "strange inheritance" story? we'd love to tell it. send me an e-mail or go to our website, get your fiber. o try phillips' fiber good gummies plus energy support. it's a new fiber supplement that helps support regularity and includes b vitamins to help convert food to energy. mmmmm, these are good! nice work, phillips! the tasty side of fiber,
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real cheese people believe every casserole deserves a shred of authenticity, every sandwich a slice of legit. natural cheese off-the-block, 100% real. sargento, we're real cheese people. >> now back to "strange inheritance." >> for 30 years, jamie allen has been the sole proprietor of allen's original redwood log house. what was once a home for her
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lumberjack grandpa is now a traveling tourist attraction -- her strange inheritance. do people look at you on the road like, "wait -- what"? "that lady's driving a tree." >> you can see the passenger tell the driver, "look, there's a girl driving that thing." >> her policy of admission by donation, plus the revenue from souvenirs, once provided a decent living, but it's tougher with each passing year. >> it's hard to be the log lady and have a life and be the bookkeeper and the truck driver and the repair person and do it all. >> those worries are building in the fall of 2014, when jamie is exhibiting the log house at the pittsburgh home & garden show. a few exhibits away is an antiques appraiser named lori verderame. jamie invites her to check out her cabin. what was your first impression when you saw this log cabin? >> oh, i thought it was very unusual. i didn't realize that it was a
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house inside until i went inside. >> the women begin brainstorming. is there anything jamie can do to make her business more lucrative, her future more secure? is her strange inheritance a "sell" or a "hold"? so we invited dr. lori to join us here at the blueberry festival to hear her advice. >> i have to look at it and evaluate it as a public attraction for its history. i have to look at it as a redwood log, a piece of a natural historical object. >> who buys a log? >> the people who say, "i'm a museum, i'm a conservation park, and i want to use it as an attraction to bring more awareness of my business." so the log really can stir an awful lot of interest. the other thing which impacts its value -- the log also generates money. >> well, jamie's told me she's just about breaking even. she's getting four miles to the gallon.
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>> well, she's moving it. that doesn't mean that, if it were staying still, that she couldn't generate more money. >> it's a lot to take in. i don't really want the log to just stay in one place. >> did you choose this life on the road, or did it choose you? >> i think that it's a little bit of both. >> you're doing this since you're 23 years old. do you start to think, "maybe i ought to sell"? >> a lot of people ask me do i want to sell, and i tell them, "well, you never sell your family tree." [ upbeat music plays ] >> a family tree for sure. at the end of the great depression, an old lumberjack fells the 1,900-year-old redwood and makes a cabin from a section of the trunk. it starts out as his home, turns into a roadside attraction, and becomes a living for his son and then his granddaughter. and what happens when it's time for the log to be inherited from you? you don't have children. >> no, but i have several
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godchildren that are very interested in the log. so we'll see who shows the most potential of making sure that it keeps traveling. >> words of a woman who knows she's approaching a crossroads but is not there yet. >> i've been doing what i've been doing for a long time, and i want my log to keep doing what it's doing. >> so your life's gonna be on the road for awhile. >> well, i'm pretty sure it probably will be. >> it's what you do. >> it's who i am. >> no doubt jamie allen's redwood cabin is a strange inheritance from a different era. consider this. the tree now believed to be the tallest in the world was discovered in this state park in 2006. far from turning it into an attraction, officials have kept its location secret. why? because if its location were known, they say, so many people would race off to see it that the tree's life would be in danger. i'm jamie colby for
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"strange inheritance." thanks so much for watching, and remember, you can't take it with you. >> it's here. we are in the final 48-hours before the pivotal new hampshire primary. candidates looking for the states where the independent voter has a whole lot of power. what do they need to say to persuade voters ahead of tuesday. the republican side according to the university polling we want to show you. donald trump leading the pack with 28 percent support john kasich second at 14 percent and tied with marco rubio, jeb bush, ted cruz. the rest of the field in the low to low single digits there. the news there is no clear second place holder at this point. tough competition. >> carl cameron is live for us in


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