Josna Rege

4. The Tree House

In 1970s, Stories, United States on March 1, 2010 at 3:39 am

courtesy of Mike Hill

When I first met Andrew, his and Michael’s tree house was already the Mach II. They had built the first one at 14, and in the new model they had worked out all the bugs. When one thinks of a tree house one usually imagines the common backyard variety, with a deck, railings, and perhaps some rudimentary shelter overhead. This was the deluxe edition, equipped with all mod cons.

The tree house was a two-storey octagonal structure built around the trunk of a tall pine, with a removable ladder up the trunk and a double trap-door entrance complete with barbed wire to keep out intruders. The  lower floor had a circular counter and bar stools, a kerosene stove, a sink with running water, electric light, and a record player. There were record-lined shelves running along two of the walls and posters on the others.  Up the ladder, the next floor consisted of two platform beds built around the trap door.  The rising heat made it toasty warm up there year-round.  One more trap door led to the roof, where the water tank was mounted, and where the electricity came in, siphoned off the nearest pole, and a crow’s nest.  There were no windows in the walls, each of the eight on each floor made of a full sheet of plywood painted forest green on the outside, and it was delightfully cosy on stormy nights, as the tree house swayed in the wind.  The only difficulty was having to climb all the way down into the woods to pee, especially in the dark; perhaps Mach III would have had a composting toilet.

Andrew and Michael’s tree house was the stuff of legend, even during its time. It was writing to Mick Jagger about listening to the Stones in the tree house that got him curious enough to call us. But that’s another story.

Tell Me Another (Contents to Date)

Chronological Table of Contents

  1. What wonderful stories, Jojo! Your voice sounds so true and full of your lovely brand of humor!
    I am really enjoying learning about some of those years when we lost track of each other.

    The stories remind me of a very favourite book of mine called “Return of the Twelves” which I am
    sure you know. Our lives back in MH were somewhat like that “pretend” life or reality and it is great
    fun to re-visit stories that remind me of those childhood days.
    Thank you. Marianne

    • Dear Marianne, I have looked up Return of the Twelves, and can’t believe I haven’t come across it before. I’m going to try to get hold of a copy next time I go to the library. Thank you for reading. I’m so enjoying this. The right MH stories will reveal themselves before long, I feel sure. xo Jo

  2. Jojo
    So many new entries in such a short time. I just wanted to reply about the treehouse story and tell you how much I enjoyed it. I had forgotten the part about Mick J.I was looking for a picture (digital copy)to try and send along. I also was able to reflect on how pivotal this was in my life and development. You may not remember, but the money to buy all the materials was money andrew and I had saved to buy some kind of Motorcycles/Dirt Bikes that both our parents said was not going ot happen. So we decided to build the MachII version. My parents were away in Florida on a winter vacation as I recall when we had the lumber delivered to the house on Allendale where I lived and then hauled over to the shop by Andrews house where we prefabricated the pieces and hauled out to the tree. This exerience taught me so much about the design process that remains with me to this day. Love Michael

    • Michael! I’m so glad you’ve posted–and in the midst of your hectic life. It’s wonderful to hear parts of the story I’d never heard (or had forgotten). So if it hadn’t been for your parents thwarting your motorcycle desires, you might never have built that beautiful creation? What a feat it was. It still amazes me. Love, Jo

  3. Wow! What a design. Does the Mach II still stand? And did Nikhil grow up with such a splendid tree house?

    • Alas, no. Andrew and Michael had to take it down many years ago. Andrew’s parents rented a pre-revolutionary war farmhouse on the grounds of a large estate where Michael’s father was the farm manager and they built the tree house on a hill in its woods. But when both of them–and their parents–left the area it had to go. Even before that, vandals had broken into it and stolen some of our favorite records and our prize Rolling Stones poster. But it was our hangout in high school, when it was rare and wonderful to have a place of our own.

      Nikhil never got to see it that tree house. He did have one in our back yard, but with a more traditional design.

  4. …and, of course, now I must know about the Mick Jagger call.

  5. Looking forward to it! 🙂

  6. […] Since February 2010, when I posted the first story on Tell Me Another, my method has been more-or-less haphazard and associative. Each successive story is usually the next one that comes to mind. Sometimes an event, an occasion, or the season demands it, and I must drop everything and start writing at once, while at other times the idea just lodges itself in my brain and I find myself working it out over the course of several days. It has happened once or twice that a reader has requested a particular story, and I have been delighted to oblige, for example when, in the very first month of TMA’s existence, my friend Ann asked for one about the tree house. […]

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