Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Boxcar children

When my childhood friend, Kathy Jones, came to my house to visit, we often chose to play Boxcar Children.
~ Kathy and I, 1956

Boxcar Children, one of our favorite books,
is the delightful story of four children who run away from home. Their parents have died, and they don’t want to be sent away to live with their grandfather.

They don't actually know their grandfather, but they conclude he must be mean, and he certainly doesn’t love them, since he's never come to see them.

Kathy and I became the poor, needy, but brave, orphans in the book, venturing into the woods and making beds of pine needles.

When we discover a boxcar to hide in, we scavenge a nearby dump for dishes and furnishings. Finding some old utensils and some metal bowls, we clean and polish them with sand.

This game appealed to Kathy’s innate sense of adventure, and my "nesting" instinct, preferring to pretend things that were homey, safe and comforting.

We had the perfect spot for Boxcar Children: a little clearing in a vacant lot off the alley on Prior, between Lincoln and Grand Avenues, in back of Dory’s corner grocery store.

Kathy and I would hide out in our little clearing off the alley, hoping we wouldn't be discovered. We were, after all, surviving, on our own, escaping being sent to our wicked grandfather.

Only, in the story, Grandfather turns out to be a loving man, playful, generous and very kind and gentle. When the children are finally discovered and he sees how much the boxcar has meant to them, he has it moved to his farm as a playhouse for them.

But Kathy and I never got to the end of the story. It was too much fun to hide, fear being found, and remain brave while trying to stay sheltered, warm and fed.

Of course, after awhile, we Boxcar Children would head for home.

Exhausted from our adventure. And most likely in time for supper.