One summer, my brother Bob and I decided to build a tree house in a large sugarberry tree. The tree had thick limbs, and its trunk was over four feet in diameter. It was perfect for a tree house. About eight feet up the trunk, were two thick limbs. We nailed a frame there and built the tree house out of some scrap plywood sheets our dad had given us. The house was pretty much a cube, since all the plywood pieces were four-by-four-foot squares. We put tar on the roof and painted the sides. We also made a ladder out of two eight-foot-long two-by-fours and several short pieces.
Next, we built a platform near the end of a very thick limb that branched out near the tree house. Since the limb sloped upward, the platform was about fifteen or sixteen feet above the ground. We fastened a short board to a rope and fed the rope through a pulley attached to a limb above the platform. This allowed us to hoist our little brother and others from the ground up to the platform. We fastened another rope that ran from the limb above the platform to a limb next to the tree house. We could hold on to the rope and walk off the platform onto the thick limb and down to the tree house.
We made a couple of platforms on other parts of the tree. We called one of them the crow’s nest. About twelve feet above the tree house, the trunk split into several branches. The thickest of these limbs sloped upward for several yards before it split into several smaller branches. We built the crow’s nest there, a good thirty-feet above the ground. To get to it, we had to stand on top of the tree house and climb up two-by-fours nailed to the tree trunk. About three feet above this platform, was another limb that I could hold on to when I stood up on the crow’s nest. Only one person at a time could go up there. The limb might break with two kids, and you couldn’t pass anyone on the way up or down. I loved to go up there, because I could look down on rooftops and see half the neighborhood. On windy days, it was pretty scary up there.
The final touch was the rope slide. Dad helped us with this. He fastened a steel cable with a piece of rubber garden hose over it to a limb above the tree house and attached it to an iron pipe that was driven into the ground. We could stand on top of the tree house, hold on to the garden hose and slide down the cable. When we first tried it, we came down really fast. To slow us down a bit, Dad lowered the cable and moved the pipe a little further from the tree.
We and our friends enjoyed the tree house for many years. Alas, as we grew older, we got too big to play in a tree house. But I’ll always enjoy the memories.