During our childhood, my sister and I had a few playhouses. One was an empty hog pen that we scrubbed and cleaned in order to play in it. Daddy’s hog pens were buildings built out of rough boards with the floor off the ground. That playhouse held our chairs, a table, dolls and other belongings. We enjoyed our time playing in the hog pen. Another time we cleaned a small building that had been a chicken house and, along with a cousin, made it our playhouse. We furnished the former chicken coop and relished our time of play in it. However, we also were delighted to share the playhouses of friends, especially Doris’, whenever we were able to go for a visit.
Doris’ playhouse was different, and I remember it vividly. She was the child of my parents’ friends who lived in Porter. My parents usually visited their friends on Sunday afternoon, and they would take my sister and me with them. Doris, the daughter of the friends, was an adult, but she had the mind of a young child. She was always happy for us to come for a visit.
Soon after our arrival at Doris’ home, she would excitedly invite my sister and me to her playhouse. Doris’ home was surrounded by stands of pine trees, and in one stand of trees near her house Doris had made her playhouse. She had swept the pine needles into lines between the trees. The lines of pine needles formed the walls of the rooms of her house. She kept a broom in the playhouse, and the floors were always neatly swept. Doris had a kitchen, living room and bedroom in her house. The furnishings were minimal, but they were enough to encourage our imaginations. We spent hours playing with Doris in her house beneath the branches of the pine trees.
One Sunday afternoon was exciting for us. Doris’ home sat on the top of a hill with a dirt drive up the hill to the front of the house. The driveway was about a half-mile long from FM 1314 on the west side of Porter. During the 1940s and early 1950s, most vehicles were equipped with manual transmissions. On that Sunday afternoon while Doris and my sister and I were enjoying our play, we heard someone yell. When we looked up, we saw Daddy’s car rolling backward down the driveway. Everyone ran out of the house and watched the car roll backward, but no one could run fast enough to catch the car. The car did not stop until it was against the dirt embankment on the opposite side of the road. Thankfully, no other cars were on the road at the time and Daddy’s car was not damaged. When Daddy parked the car in the driveway again, he made sure it was in the proper gear to prevent it from rolling down the hill again. The adventure of the car had added excitement for all of us on that Sunday afternoon.
The memories of Doris’ playhouse are still cherished. My sister and I were intrigued by the playhouse beneath the branches of pine trees, and Doris was happy to share her house with others. We learned that a playhouse did not have to have walls of boards and a roof. A playhouse could be open while our imagination supplied the structure for play.