By DAVE NORDSTRAND
The Salinas Californian
It would be hard to imagine a house more treasured than the tiny, rose-colored, single-story one nestled in Margie Linares' back yard.
It sits happily beside her residence on a hilltop off Corral de Tierra Road.
Adults duck to enter. They settle on little wooden chairs. They sip tea from thimble-sized cups.
"When I was a little girl, my father built it," said Linares, 73. "I enjoyed it when I was a child, and I'm enjoying it now."
The "house" is actually a furnished, 6-foot by 8-foot playhouse. At 5 feet tall, Linares can still stand straight under its roof.
As children, she and her six siblings were welcome to play in the cozy confines.
Linares is well-known in Salinas. Between 1988 and 1998, she owned Margie's Family Restaurant, 22 W. Romie Lane.
But, growing up, Pacific Grove was her hometown.
In building the playhouse, her father, Roy Piña, knew what he was up to.
A highly skilled carpenter, Piña helped build Highway 1 bridges. He worked on constructing Stevenson School and many custom homes in Pebble Beach.
In 1986, Linares' mother, Evelyn Piña, died. Roy died at age 97 in June of 2002.
In January of 2006, Linares brought the playhouse to Corral de Tierra.
"By then, it was full of termites," she said. "We had to move it carefully."
Several men on each side slid big iron pipes under the structure. Gently, they hoisted it onto a flatbed truck.
"It arrived a bit wobbly," Linares said.
She did much of the renovation herself. It took a year and several months. She replaced the Douglas fir floor, for one thing. It has a new roof, too. Then the fresh coat of rose-tone paint.
Next to the playhouse, Linares erected the original Pacific Grove street sign, "15th St. and Laurel Ave.," the location of the family home. The sign became available when crews replaced it with a new version.
On Sept. 9, Linares and her sister, Diane Brubaker of Pacific Grove, hosted a tea party. They invited friends and family to celebrate the renovated playhouse.
Among its diminutive amenities are chairs and a table, a red-and-white tea service, plus an antique sink and stove and China cabinet - all in miniature.
As it did when she was a girl, the playhouse occupies an ongoing place in Linares' life.
She'll go inside and open the windows. She'll sit and reflect for a spell.
Or a daughter may visit. They'll sip lemonade.
"Out in the playhouse, I can sit and think of my dad and mom and what a good childhood we had," Linares said. "It's wonderful."