Ever have just a word or a phrase bring back some powerful memories? This happens to me often, ( maybe I live in the past ) well, this morning while during a Facebook written conversation, an old friend of mine mentioned these three small words. Doing so brought an unexpected but, entirely welcomed set of memories. I hope to share them here.
When I was 9 our family had a terrible fire,the chimney on our house blew up June 4, 1974. Our house dogs awoke my parents, who in turn made their way into our bedrooms and led us into the upstairs bathroom, which had a window that opened onto the roof of the kitchen. We escaped the house via the window, but, then, it was a 12-14 foot drop to the ground. My dad jumped off the roof and landed unharmed, and retrieved a ladder for the rest of us to clamber down. They loaded all of us frightened smoke filled kids into the car, and were about to leave for some help ( we lived in the country and my grandparents home was a mile away). We heard the dogs barking in the house and my parents tried to get into the house to rescue them, but, the smoke was too thick. They turned away from the house and we raced to my grandparents ( it was around 4:00 am). The fire dept was there within minutes, but, it was too late to save our pets, we lost Pepper ( a Vizla), Shotzie( a Dachshund), Mitzi ( a Miniature Poodle) , Trixie ( Doxie /Poodle X puppy), and Scooter ( our Siamese cat). I was devastated. I was inconsolable for a long time. I still had my horse Sundance, and my sisters and brother were all still with me, but, my friends the animals were gone...
It got better, I met some new friends from the town next to ours, and they also had horses and lived nearby. We lived with my granparents until my mom and dad could figure out what to do next. Our horses lived at my grandparents farm because the place we lived at was rented and there was not barn for the horses nor was there enough land for the 6 horses we had. After our chores were done for the day, of course we would take off on horseback to meet our friends and we would spend the day together doing fun things, raiding neighborhood kitchens ( the neighbor ladies LOVED company, even if it was a bunch of hungry kids), taking our horses swimming in the creek, riding to the village for Pixie Sticks and a can of pop. Gosh even now, these memories are so powerful, I can still see myself on Sunny, soaked to the bone, he and I,... laughing at someone who must have fallen off in the water. The smell of a lazy summer afternoon, laying on the the back of my mellow horse, just soaking up the summer sun. Triumphantly cantering down the road with a can of Orange Crush in my hand and a handful of Pixie Sticks n my pocket, leading the way to our "secret Hideout", so we could laugh and giggle as we ate and drank our succulent treats.
That was the first summer, subsequently, we started spending more time together during the school year also, even though we attended rival schools. Now, this is a story for another time...
During that summer though, we discovered my grandparents old brooderhouse. Gosh, it looked just the right size for us to have a clubhouse!!!!! So, after securing permission and help we planned out the refurbishment of the "clubhouse". It was painted the typical "Barnyard Red", and my grandpa found windows that fit the casings and secured them into place. He also made not only a door to fit the clubhouse, but, also, a screen door, so we could have the cool evening breezes enter into our new clubhouse. Gandma made pretty curtains ( white with tiny roses on them), we put down a spare piece of linoleum, Mom and Dad gave us an old couch and a small table and chairs sat in front of the windows.
There were extra benches for people to sit on. Dad strung a wire from the garage to the "clubhouse" and there was light... our clubhouse was complete! Everyone wanted to become a member of "The Club". Our cousins wanted to sleep in the clubhouse when they came out from the city to visit .( of course, we shared...)
We spent many hours inside the clubhouse doing things young horse-crazy girls do. Reading Horse and Rider, Horseman and Horse Of Course magazines. We made made patches of a horse head ( in purple satin no less!) to sew on our jackets ( think Trixie Beldon, she was a strong influence...) We had meetings monthly... We brought books to share ( horse stories of course) I signed up to be a penpal on Horse Of Course, and spent many hours re reading and writing back to the many penpals who responded to my request for a penpal. We planned our next horse back excursions, where we would go, and who we would visit. We daydreamed about our lives ( the horses and the boys in them , yep, we were now pre-teens, and we discovered BOYS!) The time spent in our clubhouse seemed endless, and it was a friend sometimes when the pressures of being a young person with low self esteem seemed overwhelming.
We spent a couple of years sharing dreams and time with our beloved clubhouse, sadly, our lives were turning in new directions; school dances, sports, new friends boys, boys, boys.... The clubhouse became forgotten. By the time we reached eighth grade we were not spending much time at all within its welcoming walls. The clubhouse was now just a fixture on my grandparents farm. Over the years, it lost its cheery curtains, storms broke out the windows, my grandparents passed away, and we grew up.
I had the opportunity last spring to visit my grandparents old farm, and with the intention of possibly purchasing the clubhouse for my son, restoring its former glory I went to see it with optimism in my heart. Sadly, it is decomposed beyond salvage, the roof is fallen in, there are no windows left intact, the floor is rotted through. Time has ravaged our beloved clubhouse more than any act of vandalism ever could.
This is my tribute to our clubhouse, ,although it will not see another generation of children grow up in its walls, it will live on in my memories and on this blog as well as in the memories of some of my closest childhood friends!,