Friday, September 16, 2016

The Boy’s Clubhouse

Memories & Nostalgia

1960s-Style Clubhouse: It was a place where boys made close connections, albeit not of the kind that uses electronic media or other communications devices, but of the kind that involved close proximity and nearness, It was far more simpler and far more cheaper to do. Karen Gennari writes (“Kids’ Clubhouses and Hideouts—Part 1: 1950’s & 1960’s”; June 21, 2015) on her site, Toys of Childhood Past: “Having missed my opportunity to build a real clubhouse in my youth, I drew my own vision of what a typical 1950’s/60’s clubhouse looked like. This imaginary hideout had walls of plywood sheets, a door made from furring strips, and a corrugated tin roof. Boys’ domiciles commonly had signs reading ‘KEEP OUT!’or ‘NO GIRLS ALLOWED.’ Buy yourself a bottle of chocolate pop for a nickel and head off to your clubhouse to trade baseball cards with the boys or leaf through the latest Seventeen Magazine with the girls.”
Image Credit: Doug Pifer; Directions ’70 Magazine
In the mid-1960s, my brothers and I built a clubhouse beneath our balcony (or gallery, as it was then called in Montreal). We “borrowed” materials (mostly old boards and nails) and tools (hammer and hand saw) from our father’s carpentry shop, which was in the basement of our house. In our young mind’s eye, the clubhouse was supposed to be our sanctuary, our place away from others, including parents. It was also a place where the unspoken rule was, “No Girls Allowed.” It was a place where we traded cards, read comic books, looked at old National Geographic magazines, ate chips and chewed gum and just talked about things that young boys then talked about. If it all sounds silly and boring today, as it does to my two boys, it was not for us. The clubhouse lasted a few days; our father did not like the crude addition to the house and tore it down. I was upset for a day or so, until a friend found another spot to build a clubhouse, which lasted for a longer time, that is, until we outgrew our interest in such things.