The Captain's Clubhouse
The garage behind the house where I grew up was a constant source of security, adventure, mischief, and wonder. There were piles of junk to root through, a wall that was occasionally the victim of slingshot and BB gun onslaughts, and a roof that provided a perch to throw things at my brother and sister walking below, and to monitor the nearby neighbors activities. I felt fortunate to have this dilapidated garage as my castle, fort, and clubhouse. I think every kid needs something similar, and by “every” I mean specifically our two grandsons.
For a few months the eldest grandson, 5-year-old “Captain Kid,” and I had been discussing utilizing our combined talents to build a clubhouse in our backyard. He has the ability to get me to do just about anything that he wants, and I, having a small amount of construction experience, agreed that he was correct in his opinion that we both needed to have a place to hangout together. Options were discussed such as steps (yes), deck (yes), windows (yes), shelving (yes), and a bathroom (no). The plans were agreed upon and the gathering of building materials began.
I proudly proclaim to be one of the world’s greatest scroungers. Our garage contains piles of mismatched pieces of lumber, plastic pipes, jars & boxes of nails and secondhand screws, half full cans of paint & stain, and many other items that are not worthy of keeping but too good to throw away. All of these items are saved for future projects. Well, I guess the future had arrived because we decided that it was time to build the clubhouse.
Additional scrounging resulted in procuring the next door neighbor’s surplus fencing, the remnants of another neighbor’s storage shed, odds & ends swiped from a the recycling bin of a neighbor a few houses away, and leftovers from a deck we had built a few years ago. Many of the screws used were previously holding together a computer, printer, hard drive, and a microwave.
Construction began and a couple weeks later (I’m very slow) the grand opening was held. In the end the total cost of construction was $20 spent on the plastic lattice used to make three windows.
Part of the planning included making sure that Captain Kid’s reproduction Murray “Sad Face” pedal car could comfortably be parked inside. I know that many GSM readers have the same capacity concern when designing and building a full-size garage to shelter their full-size cars. We made sure that the ceiling height was high enough that I could stand up inside (well, almost) and that, if needed, a second pedal car could be accommodated, although a lift might be necessary.
Over this past summer grandma and I took care of both grandsons four to five days a week. The youngest, 1-year-old Mr. Wiggles, has only been moderately interested in the clubhouse. His big brother wants to spend every minute of every hour of every day inside our miniature garagemahall, leaving only to spend time on the nearby tree swing, and wooden walkway among the branches of another tree. Time in the clubhouse often includes watching videos of catching monster fish, poking sticks at dangerous snakes, and the construction of anything and everything that can be made from Lego pieces. These viewing sessions usually include peanuts, popcorn, potato chips, along with a jelly sandwich, and chocolate chip cookie. Healthy? Not very. Appreciated? Very much.
I dread the day when the clubhouse loses its appeal. There are, however, family members and a few friends that have accused me of using my grandsons as an excuse to build the clubhouse for myself. I will neither confirm nor deny that accusation.
- Lance Lambert