Building Houses and The Boxcar Children

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River houses, Backyard getaways, Fairy houses and Lean-to’s, and more.

When I was in 7th grade I had no friends at my school. It had started out well enough –I became fast friends with a group of athletic girls at our orientation weekend away. As soon as they realized I tripped over my own feet, having grown three sizes that summer, they avoided me.

I never minded being or eating lunch alone. I always had a book. What I minded was anyone seeing me eating alone. So I found ways to make myself scarce. At my school there was a wild area. A place where the trees and bushes, and even, poison oak was left to flourish. Lower campus. It was my heaven. A place that felt like Colorado on the campus of a very exclusive all girls school in West Los Angeles. Down there I built myself a house. I cleared brush, arranged logs and rocks, and every lunch I would walk down there to read and sit in the trees.

My dad taught me to build a lean to when I was very little. In turn, I taught the girls how to build one, on the ranch in Colorado.

And in between there were fairy houses built, backyard forts created, and more.

Long before the girls came a long I was building houses along the La Plata river in Colorado.

I would find a place where the bank and the river and the trees met that created rooms and I would add to them. Can you see the place in the picture above? Off to the left close up or further back in that patch of sun on the other side. Either would make a good spot. Each summer I could be found building kitchens, bedrooms and living rooms among the rocks. Sometimes these were human sized, child sized, or sometimes they were doll sized though the dolls didn’t make it there. My girlfriends and I pretended we were tiny people living along the banks. Every summer I would go to Woolworths to buy a pair of tennis shoes for a few bucks, that I could wear with my shorts and t-shirt in that freezing, snow melt fed river and play among the rocks.

When we discovered The Boxcar Children I was amazed that I had never read them as a child. It was clearly a product of the depression or so I thought. The first book was published in 1924 and written by a first grade teacher. The kids are orphans and make a home in an abandoned boxcar. In Dad’s day the Hobos called them “Sidedoor Pullmans.” These were boxcars with doors in the side and nicknamed after the fancy Pullman cars of the train with their bedrooms, bathrooms and luxuries. Sidedoor pullmans had no such amenities.

Building Houses and
The Boxcar Children

When the kids find the boxcar they set about making it livable much like the home I made on lower campus. (though I would have been hard put to cook there or stay dry in the rain). Each adventure continued the story and the girls and I listened to them in the car traveling to and from school. I highly suggest this series as a good one for multiple ages. Our girls are 4 years apart. All three of us enjoyed listening to them and there was never an argument about who got to choose the station. We all loved this one.

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