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Never underestimate the power of a boy’s imagination

undergroundfortMy husband Bill moved to Virginia Beach, Virginia when he was eight. He lived eventually on Mediterranean Avenue near a boy named Dave who became his best friend. The two had many adventures together throughout their school career.

The summer when Dave was 12 and Bill was 11 found them in a cleared area of a vacant lot behind Dave’s house. Having built all types of forts above ground and in trees, it now became evident that the time had come to move underground for a secret fort known only to the two of them.

Bill remembers that they dug for days to make a room-sized hole large enough to accommodate some apple crates and a small table where they could have secret meetings and play all types of spying games and other imaginary adventures.

Born scavengers, the two discovered some railroad ties at the dump. By tying each tie to the handlebars of their bicycles, they were able to move the large poles to the site of the fort. They dug out a ledge around the rectangular hole and placed ties there in addition to those they laid across the top of the cavity. On top of the ties, they shoveled dirt and covered it with pine needles to camouflage the hideout so that no one could ever suspect it was there.

They “borrowed” a blow torch from Dave’s father and baked the dirt walls of the underground room to keep the sides from falling in.

Over under some trees nearby, Bill and Dave dug a tunnel entrance through which they had to crawl to get into the hideout. It was as nearly perfect a fort as two boys could ever ask for.

They spent many hours playing games inside the fort with lighting furnished only by candles they had confiscated from home.

It was as near to heaven as their imaginations could create until a tumultuous rainstorm flooded the hideout with about eight inches of water—and the game was over.

The boys moved on to other pursuits and forgot about the fort.
One fateful day about four years later Bill heard a loud commotion over behind Dave’s house. A huge bulldozer was clearing all the small trees so that a new house could be built on the previously vacant lot.

With a sinking feeling, Bill knew the inevitable was about to take place. Soon wild shouts arose from the area. You guessed it. The bulldozer had discovered the fort.

Amazingly, the big machine had entered at such an angle that it fell through the railroad ties and was stuck in the hole. No amount of screaming, shouting, cursing or grinding of gears could extricate the bulldozer.

In the meantime, Bill called Dave to come over to see what was going on. They viewed at a discrete distance the hullabaloo that ensued. Men were running around, yelling at the driver who was yelling back that he had no idea where this hole had come from.

Eventually another huge bulldozer had to be brought to the site to dig yet another hole through which the first one could be driven to higher ground.

Laughing all the way, the two original architects returned to their jobs as lifeguards on the beach.

No one ever discovered how the hideout had been created—until now!

Sue Freeman Culverhouse
Sue Freeman Culverhousehttp://culverhouseart.com/
Author of Tennessee Literary Luminaries: From Cormac McCarthy to Robert Penn Warren (The History Press, 2013) Sue Freeman Culverhouse has been a freelance writer for the past 36 years. Beginning in 1976, she published magazines articles in Americana, Historic Preservation, American Horticulturist, Flower and Garden, The Albemarle Magazine, and many others. Sue is the winner of two Virginia Press Awards in writing. She moved to Springfield, Tennessee in 2003 with her sculptor husband, Bill a retired attorney. Sue has one daughter,  Susan Leigh Miller who teaches poetry and creative writing at Rutgers University. Sue teaches music and writing at Watauga Elementary School in Ridgetop, Tennessee to approximately 500 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. She also publishes a literary magazine each year; all work in the magazine is written and illustrated by the students. Sue writes "Uncommon Sense," a column in the Robertson County Times, which also appears on Clarksville Online. She is the author of "Seven keys to a sucessful life", which is  available on amazon.com and pubishamerica.com; this is a self-help book for all ages.

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