Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Our Corner of the World Was a Hole in the Ground

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Our Corner of the World Was a Hole in the Ground

Article excerpt

When I think about it now, it seems completely ridiculous: a hole in the ground covered with boards and dirt and camouflaged with shrubs and leaves. At the time, though, away at boarding school during the 1940s, it was not only a marvel of engineering but also a home away from home for Phil and Dave and me.

It was way out in the woods - a secret - and we would go there on free afternoons. We'd spread out some carefully hoarded food on an old rug we'd found at the dump and put a record on Phil's wind-up record player: "Sing, Sing, Sing," by Benny Goodman, "One O'Clock Jump," or something by Harry James or Tommy Dorsey. By the light of a few candle stubs we'd imagine that it was Christmas vacation and we were in New York City nursing $2 sodas at the Three Deuces and making sophisticated conversation with young women who looked like June Allyson or Gloria De Haven or Rita Hayworth. But soon sand would fall in someone's eye, or one of us would knock over a candle, or sit up too fast and bang his head on the ceiling and knock loose one of the boards.

"Why didn't we dig this hole deeper?" one of us might say, or "Watch that record!" - Phil's refrain. "The Hut," as we called it, was 6 feet by 6 feet by 4 feet high at one end. It was only 3-1/2 feet high at the other. Roots and portions of large rocks protruded from the walls. The floor was mostly sand and fairly smooth under the rug, but the entrance passageway was so tight that it collapsed a little every time we used it. The Hut had taken more than a month to build. In spite of our complaints, we were proud of it. We were as pleased as could be with all its homey touches: the shelf Phil had fashioned out of a piece of roofing tin on which we stored food, magazines, candles, and matches. We kept the record player and the records underneath it. Usually only two of us went there at a time, though, as there was so little room. The biggest problem was the sand. At first we were delighted that the ground was so easy to dig. But after a while, it didn't seem so easy. We decided to mound up the sand, even though that made The Hut harder to hide. …

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