The Club House and the Cousins

Grandma & Some Family This picture was taken in the kitchen. The tallest guy in the back is Dad. Grandma is in the front. The other people are Dad’s friend, on the extreme left, his wife, some neighbors and that little person peeking from behind was his friends’ daughter, a friend of mine who passed away way too young.

As a child, I was a bit of a loner. I had two really good friends (more on that in a later post), but when they weren’t able to play it was just me and my imagination. I loved to read, but in the summertime as I grew a bit older, I wanted a private place to just chill out. In one part of the back yard, there was a long building that had once been a chicken coop. One room at the end was separated from the rest of the building and it had a door.

My dad worked on the railroad and he brought home some of the mattresses from the sleeper cars for me when I took gymnastics. Since I was no longer doing backbends where I kept falling on my head, I began to imagine having that one room as my private “clubhouse” where I could put those mattresses and enjoy some quiet reading time.

Dad helped me clean it out and in short time, I had “moved” in. What did it matter if the temperature was in the nineties and humidity nearly as high outdoors and much worse inside my clubhouse? This was the place I could escape the constant adult conversations and be alone. I think my introvert nature must have been very prominent then, as it is now. (Did you know a lot of authors are introverts?)

I also had two cousins a year older than me. They lived on the other side of town and whenever their families came to visit, they loved to torment me because I was different. I didn’t quite trust them, so heading off into the woods on the other side of the railroad tracks with them didn’t feel safe. I stayed home and went into my clubhouse to read. Those stinkers were hiding and watching and snuck to the door and locked it from the outside.

Yep, I was locked in. I tried not to let it bother me and figured if I kept quiet, they’d tire of their little trick and let me out. But that didn’t happen. After a couple of hours (well, it seemed so), I began to panic. What if they didn’t open the door before they left? Would anyone know to look for me?

Banging on the door did nothing. I didn’t hear a sound. Once in a while the sound of laughter came through the kitchen window…adult laughter. No one could hear me, except the tormenting and bullying cousins.

I stopped trying to get out the door and began wondering if I could somehow break through the wall to the other part of the old chicken coop and escape. Didn’t work. Finally, I heard my uncle calling that it was time to leave.

I peeked through the window and saw my cousins piling into the back seat. No way would I embarrass myself and give them the pleasure of screaming to be let out. But I did try the door, and…it opened!

I walked out, looked at their silly grins and just waved goodbye and walked into the house. I never told anyone what they’d done, but I also never went into that “safe” spot again when they came to visit.

Thick skin is what one needed to survive in “those good old days.” I had yet to grow mine, and being shy didn’t help. My cousins and I became close in later years…but that’s a story for another time!

Sending prayers for those who were hurt and injured in Baltimore and Nepal. My heart is heavy for the tragedy and sadness which continues to be part of our world. I continue to keep faith, knowing that God is good and He loves His children.


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