Reliving a memory.
This was the time of the summers of my childhood that we spent building things.
Oh, we neighborhood chums planned to build these things in July. But, husbands in training, we delayed the actual construction for weeks, through periods early in our summer vacation when we played baseball in the morning and went swimming in the lake during the afternoon. Children have priorities.
Finally, as school threatened, and as August days brought some small amount of boredom to our neighborhood, we looked for other activities. Not finding much to do that we hadn't already tried, we buckled down and began our building.
One summer, we built walls in the long and narrow haymow of a little-used barn owned by a family living up the street. Built out of wood salvaged from a small building that had been had been torn down on the property, these walls divided the haymow into three rooms, and it became our clubhouse.
It was there that we hatched our plans for other construction.
Constructing A Train
Another year, in the same barn, we used other recycled wood — mostly old wooden doors — to construct a train engine, complete with a coal car. It wasn't powered by coal, of course. It wasn't powered by anything, except us. When the engine and car — riding on old baby coach and tricycle wheels — were completed, we somehow tugged and pushed them out of the barn and up a hill to the top of the neighbors' driveway.
We were going to ride the vehicle a quarter of a mile down an access road to the lake. At least that was our optimistic intention, and we assembled a crowd of parents and neighbors to cheer us on in our endeavor.
A flaw in design shortened our trip. The heavy train traveled no more than a couple of feet before the wheels collapsed.
The rest of the summer we worked at taking the train apart and stacking the doors back in the barn where we found them. The bent and battered coach wheels never were given another chance to carry a baby.
Building A Boat
Our wooden boat was perhaps our most difficult yet satisfying project.
You don't just slap a boat together from old doors, although they still were stacked in the barn when we started construction, so we considered them.
No, we combined our summer savings, and may have borrowed a bit from our parents, and put together enough cash to buy some 2-by-4 boards and sheets of plywood — enough to build a boat that would hold, well, probably two or three people, but we were hoping to cram in eight or nine.
Cutting the wood with hand saws was a little labor-intensive. Unable to bend the plywood in smooth curves, we compromised and screwed it to the boat's skeleton at angles we thought would cut smoothly through the water. Then we caulked everything with "guns" my father, a carpenter, gave us.
Dad helped with advice and encouragement, but left us alone to complete the construction, which was supposed to be fit in between mowing the grass and weeding the garden. He also donated screws, which we took from where they were stored in coffee cans in his garage. It barely put a dent in his stash.
When the boat was done, we varnished it and declared it seaworthy. Certainly the boat was sturdy, and weighed about as much as our train, although it was not nearly as useful. With the summer done and our school books again in hand, the boat never moved a foot through the water. It never even touched the water, so it had no chance capsize or sink, which it probably would have done quickly. Instead, it spent the rest of its natural life — I don't recall when my father finally took it apart — sitting topside to the ground at a corner of our back yard.
But, we built it. And, with it, we built a memory.
On the hot summer days of our youth, that's really all that counts.