The Little Hut

Artwork by Hannah Davies

It was meant to be a playhouse or clubhouse for children. I know my father meant well when he built it. I’m pretty sure my brother helped him, but the actual building process was insignificant to me.

When it was finished, the hut had one tiny window and a smaller than average wooden door, a slanted roof that was anchored in two places, the garage wall at the back and the trunk of the tall white sycamore that littered our yard each season with a variety of cast-offs like crackling bark, huge leaves and woody balls that broke apart into seeds. Inside, there were two built-in benches for seating or sleeping, lots of old pillows, and a table at the back for snacks. I believe it had electricity at some point, a primitive work light of some kind, but that could be my own fabrication. In general, I thought of the hut as dark and mysterious and sometimes a little scarey.

At some point, my brother lost interest in the secrecy of the hut and for a few years, it was my own haven, a little house I could sweep and pretty up with a curtain on the window, a vase of small flowers, and a few pictures on the walls. I would sit in there alone, write in my diary, and daydream about the boys I wish I could have, those brilliant boys of my middle school years.

I have some blacked-out time from the hut years that is somewhat disturbing. But what I can I do? I remember some hanky-panky with my brother’s friend, Eddie, who wanted to “show me his” if I “showed him mine.” But, did I? That transaction doesn’t seem like it would be very interesting to a teenaged boy, but who knows? Besides, these are unclear memories, are they worth sorting out? Do I want to remember? And if I did remember something unpleasant, what would change?

In the hut’s heydays, my brother and his pals spent hours working on their hobbies: cars and models mostly, but really, their big projects were the scrapbooks of naked (or nearly naked) women. Oh, they were pretty clever with their creations, the first ten pages were filled with trendy car pictures but then, voila, on the next page, a centerfold from Playboy was meticulously cut out and pasted in. How risque could Playboy of the late 50’s have been? Surely innuendo and allusion played the greater role of raising the boys’ libidos. Many years later, I asked my brother about these times of secrets and sexy pictures; he looked at me like I was nuts. No way, he said. Not him. Didn’t it happen? Did I make all that up? Apparently, those were not memories he had chosen to keep.

What happens to such lost incidents? If the players themselves have forgotten them; where are they? Do they still exist somewhere? Supposedly, as we grow older, the memories of our childhood come back more vividly. I wonder, will these “lost” memories return as well?

Were there other secrets of the hut? Was it a dark and sinister place or was it just an innocent shelter where children could be masters of their destiny for an afternoon? I’ll never know for sure.

About Irmgarde Brown

Personal mission: inspire meaningful change, build faith in God and connect people with resources that make a difference in their lives.

Posted on August 7, 2011, in Memory and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I did not have a hut or a playhouse, but I did have a crawlspace that was my own little kingdom. It was a taller than average crawlspace and I could walk around upright in it until about 6th grade. Between the beams it was 5 feet tall so even as a teen I could still stand upright and only had to slightly duck to walk around. The joke in my family is that I grew to my environment and that is why I never grew taller than 5 foot even. Your post has brought back all of my memories of time in the crawlspace — both hazy memories and some as clear as a bell.

    It had two rooms that my parents set up for my sisters and I, though I was the one that eventually claimed it as my own and spent the most time in it. There was a chalkboard that took up one entire wall, a small table, chairs, carpeting on the floor, lots of pillows, and even a small loveseat for curling up to read. It was well lit… cool in the summer and cozy in the winter as it also housed the furnace. it was a magical place and somehow I have no photos of it… I wish I did as people look at me oddly when I say that my playroom was a crawlspace.

    Okay, did not mean to ramble but your post evoked a strong response and I had to share. Thank you for this post.

  2. You ask, “Apparently, those were not memories he had chosen to keep. What happens to such lost incidents? If the players themselves have forgotten them; where are they? Do they still exist somewhere?” Are you asking about the memory, or the event? Both of course exist in the same place since they are the same. We “think” the event happened, and then we “remember” it. But events come into being without a timeline (they have no past or future) and it is our perception of them, both at the moment and in hindsight that gives them a “place”. When we pause to consider memories that refer to events that didn’t happen (as, perhaps in your story) and events only vaguely or incompletely remembered we begin to understand how we shape history to fit some notion of who we are, to corroborate our sense of being a being in time. Actually, however, we are adrift in a series of moments that we insist have a sequence, because simply “being” is so difficult to manage. Luckily, we have stories. These enable us to connect with each other and sometimes to break through the mystery of being both alone in the universe and encompassing all of it.

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