Jon Remembers His Beautiful Playhouse, Err umm, His Tough Spy Fort

With spring in the air it brings back a lot of outdoor memories from my childhood. When I was a child and the weather turned warm, I was outside all the time. And in my younger years you could usually find me in one place – my fort!

When it comes to a child’s “fort,” they come in all sizes – a cluster of bushes, a built-in section of a swing set, a manufactured playhouse, or for some lucky children an actual tree house (built by Dad in one weekend – or at least that is how it works on television!) For me, my fort was a bit unconventional – to say the least – but it was a 3’ x 3‘(ish) piece of paradise.

My fort was built of plywood and had three walls and a roof. Only three walls? Yes. That is because the fort was built against a large tree which served as the fourth wall (leaving a small opening as a door). For windows, there were two openings cut in two of the walls – perfect for multiple lines of vision. This all served as a great foundation for my fort. But I needed more than a foundation…

As I sat in my fort, the dirt floor started to be a bit much, and I realized I needed some sort of floor. I scrounged through my parent’s garage and found an old piece of linoleum from when our house was built. It was a bit bent and deformed, but perfect for the fort. Everything was perfect, but with large openings as windows it was difficult to spy on people – as it was not difficult to see my large head peaking out of my “windows.” So I needed something to give me more privacy. Shutters would have worked, a hinged flap would have been helpful, or a super-cool spy sliding protection shield would have been very James Bondesque. But that’s not exactly how it turned out for me. Instead, out of the kindness of her heart, my mom made me curtains. Looking back, I find this part of the fort absolutely hilarious. A fort with curtains? Seriously, who would have taken me seriously as a spy? But at the time all I knew was that they were perfect for providing me some much needed privacy for spying. So now my fort was complete, and ready for some spying.


I spent countless hours in my fort – fighting invisible intruders, spying on my neighbors (not much action there), and playing all sorts of army/war pretend games. Sometimes I would dress-up to fit the part, and sometimes I would just go up there to get away and have some alone time (being 6 years old can be stressful)! I wish I would have had something like the Fortamajig back then, as it would have provided a much more flexible “fort experience” for indoors and outdoors – but I’m not sure if would have left me with such fond memories (it would have been a solid 2nd fort!).

So there you have it – the ingredients for a dream fort: one large tree , three pieces of plywood, one piece of bent/damaged linoleum and a set of curtains. And lastly, a special thanks to my Dad for taking the time to build my fort; and of course, a special thanks to Mom…for the curtains.

A big thank you to Joel Williams for the tree house picture!

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