A builder grows up.
Written by Paul Lesieur
When young and full of magic I was theÂ wizard of fun. My days were spent looking out for anything to occupy my above it all attitude, and being alone was somehow more complete than joining my friends. The world was my oyster.
Little did I care what people thought, busy as I was wandering over the soiled and urban back yards I called home. It was my time to begin what would be a lifetime of making things, a journey of thoughts put to hammer and nail and an abstract eye was developed that never saw an object alone,Â more as a piece of a puzzle that I could master. Wood, nails and a motley assortment of hammers, saws and pliers I scrounged from the basement workshop of my father and grandfather gave me the instruments of destruction I called my tools.I was a boy.
In the developing outer city areas men wereÂ building homes for what would be called the Baby Boomer Generation, the largest most affluent Americans ever to arrive, not on ships from European cities speaking only their native language, the Boomers were the offspring of the men and woman soaking in the new prosperity of an efficient post war economy. They were wanted and they were the hope and future of America. It was my time.
The Beatles British Invasion was about to begin, Kennedy was getting ready to invade Cuba with a bunch of intoxicated expatriates and my only concern was not getting caught taking scrap lumber from a building site. I would pick up the dropped nails and regardless of size stuff my worn and filthy nail apron in preparation for my project, a tree fort.
Mrs White the Irish widow lived in a home that bordered an unbuildable lot, a few acres of rocky hill that a mountain goat would have needed cleated boots to climb, forlorn and dangerous and warned as off limits by all diligent mothers it was where I chose to erect the Taj Mahal of my boyhood. It was summer, I had tools, and a giant Chestnut tree had spread its branches close enough to a ledge where I could carelessly plank my life away to a large a gnarly branch. I was set.
It took most the summer and my structure went through design changes set by available materials, but I did end up with a large and usable fort that only a foolish and fearless child would feel comfortable in. A hatch with a knotted rope ladder could be used to enter and bring tied on supplies to the occupants. It was my castle and a safe and private place to smoke tobacco and look at the pictures of semi-naked woman in the “Detective” magazines I gleaned from the trash.
All things come to an end and my fort had been discovered in the fall when the leaves had dropped, my father had arrived and saw the smoke coming out of the glassless window as my friends and I were finishing an entire pack of Newports we had filched from the market. As he stood yelling up at me demanding I climb down and take what would surely be a strap on the ass, I finished my smoke and descended to my fate.
Did I become a builder because of that tree fort? Probably not, I became a builder because there remains a boy in every man and building is not age related, its an event you create, an event you control, its an ageless outlet that is not dependent on the product, its dependent on the craftsman. Its the heart of the matter and the soul of it all.