Jerry and I built a fort. In back of Mothers huge garden at the edge of the forest. We gathered up some old dried logs from the forest and dug holes in the earth to place them in. Pop-Pop told us that they would never stay in place unless we cemented them in. And so we did. As soon as the cement was dry we tied smaller logs together for the sides and the roof. We really didn't know how to make the door so we cemented the fifth log about two feet from the front corner log. Sawed the logs to size tied them together and then tied them to the big logs and that was the opening.
Mother had given us one of her old worn out bedspreads which we nailed to the top of the opening and we had our door. This was our private house. Mother had also given us some old chairs and a table from the basement. It was fabulous. Only those invited ever got to enter. Like everything else that was "ours" we took turns. Jerry & I had different friends. Very different. Jerry's
friends were from his Little League team and my friends were mostly girls. At this age girls were much more fun to play with than boys. It would only be a few years before I would found out that this wasn't necessarily true. I always wondered what Jerry & his friends did in our house. One day when it was his turn I snuck thru the garden and to the edge of the forest and watched. I could barely hear them but I could see smoke coming out from the door. One of the boys came running outside choking and coughing and I could hear all the others laughing like they were crazy.
I didn't know what they were up to in there but I wanted no part of it. I headed back thru the garden and into the grove. That night after Mother finished reading us our nightly bedtime story tucked us in & kissed us goodnight I asked him.
He said the only way I'd find out is if he showed me. Early the next morning while everyone else was still asleep I woke Jerry up and said let's go. Still in our pajamas as quietly as we could we went down all the flights of stairs thru all the rooms into the kitchen and out the back door. Into the grove thru Mothers garden to the edge of the forest and inside the fort. Jerry made me promise not to tell Mother and then cross my heart and hope to die. I knew this was not gonna be good. From under the table he pulled out an old tin box opened it and I could see matches and a pack of Mothers Parliaments.
Mother would always send me downtown with my Radio Flyer to buy Milk Eggs Bread and a carton of her Parliaments. After a few games of Pinball and lunch at Aunt Lois's soda shop I only had one dollar and some change to give Mother from the five dollar bill
she had sent me off with. I wasn't sure which one was worse smoking Mothers Parliaments or stealing them. Jerry lit the match and put it up to the Parliament started blowing smoke out of his nose & then handed the pack to me. I tried lighting the first match but as I did the stick broke in half fell to the ground right inside the box of matches and they all burst into flame. So did Mothers old worn out blanket and then our house. By this time we were standing at the edge of the forest watching our house burn down and hearing the other four come screaming thru the garden. Mother was so happy. Not that we had burned our house down but that we were safe and unharmed. I was not looking forward to telling Mother just how all this happened. I knew that soon Mothers tears of joy would turn into tears of sorrow. For Jerry & me. We burned the house down.