The Summer of 1969: Returning to the Old Tree Fort

By Richard Mabey Jr.

 

Our story so far: It is now Wednesday, late morning, on the twenty-fifth of June of 1969. I had just given my article, about what scouting meant to me, to Mr. Marino, the Editor-in-Chief of the Lincoln Park Journal. I was so very happy that Mr. Marino liked my article and told me that he planned on publishing in his next edition. On my way, walking home, I stop at Moe’s Sweet Shop to buy a Batman comic book. Mary Tafano is there with her friends. Mary is very kind to me and offers to help me paint the interior of Thorpe Hall. I leave Moe’s Sweet Shop and begin my walk home. While walking home, several landmarks bring back a myriad of memories to me. Upon reaching home, I feel the gentle breeze in my backyard, the whisper of the Lord to come home. Inside home, I find Mom reading her Bible in the formal living room. After lunch, I climb my old tree fort and reminisce.

 

It was now about three o’clock in the afternoon. To my surprise, from the high perch, atop the platform of my tree fort, I could see my dad coming down Mabey Lane. Generally speaking, whenever Dad came home early in the afternoon, driving in his Mack cab truck, it meant that he would be pulling out early the next morning, for a long-distance trucking assignment.

 

When I saw Dad get out of his Mack truck, I called out to him from high atop my tree fort, “Dad, you’re home early!”

 

My father turned and looked up to me in my tree fort. “Richie, what are ya’ doing, up in your old tree fort?” Dad called out to me.

 

“I’m reading a Batman comic book, for old time’s sake,” I replied to my father.

 

“I thought you would be at Thorpe Hall, finishing up your painting job,” Dad called out to me from the ground below me.

 

“I gave myself the day off,” I jokingly said to my father.

 

Dad walked over to the manila rope, which I used to climb up to my tree fort. He grabbed hold of it and gave it a tug, as if he were going to climb up the rope.

 

“I’m getting’ too old to be climbing this rope, son,” my father laughed as he called up to me.

 

Then Dad walked up to the regular ladder that rested upon the trunk of the tree. To my surprise, Dad climbed up the ladder and hoisted himself up to the platform, where I was stationed.

 

“I guess the last time, I climbed this tree was in 1946, when I got home from the war,” Dad said to me in a kind of reflective voice.

 

“I don’t know what it was. But, when I came from Hickam Air Field, I just had a hankering to climb this old maple tree, just one more time. Funny thing is, that it just wasn’t the same. Your great grandma used to watch me from the back-kitchen window. She was always afraid I was going to fall,” Dad relayed to me in a most solemn voice tone.

 

A still silence fell between my father and myself. I think that my dad instinctively knew that I was feeling the same melancholy emotions. Dad intuitively knew that the magic, the wonder, the splendor, and the joy of climbing the old maple tree was evaporating from the chambers of my heart. A certain sadness fell upon the heart chambers of my dad and myself. We communicated a great truth in reverent silence. You can’t go back to the old tree fort.

 

To be continued.

 

Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at richardmabeyjr@hotmail.com. Please place the wording “My Life Weekly” in the subject line.

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