Ahhhh, Spring. It is just beginning here with little blooms here and there and as I looked out into the back yard from the kitchen window, I heard those long ago sounds from the back left corner of the yard. We were building a tree house. My friend, Jon, from 2 doors down, his little brother, Gary, whom we bribed with promises of sleeping in it, my best friend, Cookie, and of course myself, decided to make this our Summer project. We planned and we planned and we had it so mapped out that you would have been able to have the whole neighborhood in it. Then we stood back and realized we only had 3 trees to work with. Plan B: ok, it would be sort of a very rough triangular shape, but still big, and oh boyyyyy, we’d have the best tree house ever built! Plan C: Gosh, we need lumber and hammers and nails. Not a problem, we’ll just ride down the road on our bikes and check out that new house being built; bet they have some extra they aren’t using. And so they did (well, we thought so anyway) and we saw it piled up, so we took what we needed and dragged it all back to my yard. Bang, bam, bang, bang, ouch, and a few more and look at that! There’s shape taking place! Hmmm, not enough lumber; we will absolutely need a good floor and walls. Back to the house under construction and lo and behold there was even more lumber to be had. Jackpot! We’d taken all 4 bikes this time, so we could round up a lot more of what we needed. Back to my yard and all the hammering again. Oh my! It was becoming really, REALLY good, but wait, we have to have a window or 2, don’t we? By this time we’d made a rut in the road to the house down the street, but wouldn’t you know it? There were 2 window frames just propped up and doing nothing on the side of the house and even glassed in! Back to my yard with the goodies. Now we hammered the windows in and they worked! But, you know, you can’t have a roof if it is going to leak on you when you’re sleeping, so back to the house down the street. Jon knew exactly what to look for and we loaded up the tar paper and all the shingles we could carry and once again built the heck out of our tree house.
We stood back, we smiled, we broke into big grins and then into all out gleeful laughter. We did it! A huge tree house with 2 windows that worked and a non-leaking roof. We were set! Oh the Summer was going to be the best EVER!
We took turns going up and down the ladder and carrying sleeping bags into “our” tree house. Then we planned the night. We made sandwiches galore and took them with us when it was time for dinner…in “our” tree house. Darkness came, we told stories, we gloated over our triumph of the Summer and even started thinking about making an honest to goodness club. Our cheeks were frozen in grins. We drifted off to sleep and woke to the sound of birds chirping, the sun in it’s morning splendor and ………what’s that? What’s that sound we asked! Jon stuck his head out of our back window and I saw his mouth fall open. The woods behind me were being mowed down to construct a NEW house! Oh no, our privacy will be gone. If only.
The new house was built, a family with 2 daughters moved in, and immediately claimed the tree house as theirs. They said it was on THEIR property! We were all so upset that an actual fight broke out. No broken bones but a lot of hurt pride.
A surveyor came out. It was their property. The parents, theirs and mine, decided the only thing to do was to tear the tree house down. Ohhhh, the inhumanity of it all! We kids stood there while it was torn down and actually cried. We were all of 13 years old and it was embarrassing, but the whole thing was devastating after all that work and then only having 1 night of heaven. Then I looked at Jon and saw a glint in his eye and he was looking all around my yard. He sidled over to me and whispered, “You know what? They still haven’t finished that house down the street and I’ll bet we could do it all again. Want to?”
Well, we didn’t build another one and instead, Cookie and I started sleeping on my back porch, you know, roughing it. It was fine the first week, and Jon would come over and visit and we’d crack caps with rocks on the bricks and set off sparklers and play Go Fish and War, but he was just biding his time. I should have known. He waited and waited for us to finally go to sleep and then WHAMMMM, threw an entire bucket of ice cold water on us! His day was going to come, believe you me, it was coming. That story is saved for another day ~~
Here is a photo of my beloved dog, Winnie, the homemade ladder going up to the tree house, and the house that was built behind me that was the bane of my existence. Both of those daughters came to no good and no one was surprised.