While growing up, the backyard at my parents’ house seemed so much larger than it does now. A number of years after I moved out, my parents added a back porch deck, however that still doesn’t seem explain how much smaller the yard appears all these years later.
During the summer months, the fenced in yard served as a baseball field with the cloths line serving as the family laundry dryer (and second base). In the fall, the yard turned into a football field. It also was the site of birthday parties, cook outs and even a few disagreements between us neighborhood kids.
The old hackberry tree (first base) stood in the north part of the yard has been gone since the early 1980’s and was replaced two decades later by a peach tree which began to grow on the spot.
It was the old hackberry tree that consumed nearly one entire month of my summer vacation. The gnarled branches of that tree became one of my favorite haunts and, on one occasion, was in part responsible for one of my most painful experiences.
The summer in question was in the later part of the 1960’s when I wanted to build a tree house.
In looking back, that old tree was not really designed for such a structure (and I was not much of an engineer) – regardless, I had my mind set. I remember somehow getting permission from my parents for the endeavor providing that I fund all the necessary supplies. After all, I had a weekly income thanks to a paper route (although most of those earnings went to Staggs Dairy Queen at the time).
For the next few weeks, I pulled my wagon up and down alleys throughout Rushville in search of necessary materials for the project - a piece of wood here, another there and every once in a while I found a discarded piece of 2x4 that, once I nailed to the side of the tree, would serve as a ladder to reach my hideaway. I also found a number of old soda bottles while looking for wood. I cleaned and redeemed them at Mel Leland’s Sexton Street neighborhood store or Houchin’s Grocery on Main Street for candy money.