1994: ‘Swing hard’ in South Dakota

We started early and worked hard, pausing briefly for lunch and then back to the framing, the roofing, the interior panels, the window frames. I kept my eye on the president, determined to work as long and hard as he did.

By 6 p.m., most of our crew had quit for the day but the president was still at it, measuring new pieces for the porch, reading his level to be sure all was in order, rarely engaging in any kind of small talk (except when he instructed my daughter Sarah to drive the nail with more emphasis. “Swing hard, Sarah, and hit it like hell!”).

By 8, I was getting a wee bit hungry and more than a little tired but as long as President Carter was still on the job, so would I hang in there.

Finally, about 9 p.m., in the fading summer light of the Great Plains, he announced it was time to knock off for the day.

I was relieved, exhilarated by all that we accomplished, and, most of all, deeply impressed by the skills and the determined commitment of the man from Plains who came to the Great Plains to give our native population warm, secure and comfortable shelter.

— Tom Brokaw, NBC News special correspondent