The Final Tier of My Old Backyard Tree Fort

This picture was taken in September of 1973. It shows the last three remaining boards of the third floor tier of my old tree fort. You can see the cedar tree in the background.

The Final Tier of My Old Backyard Tree Fort

By Richard Mabey Jr.

In the summer of 1965, at the age of 11, between sixth and seventh grades, I built the highest and final tier to my backyard tree fort. My dad and my good friend, Stuart Steinhauser, helped me build this incredible tree fort plank. This particular plank was very dangerous to build. It was on the far edges of the branches of the old maple tree. It was higher than my house, which had three stories, including the attic. And, it was higher than the top of the incredibly tall cedar tree that stood along Mabey Lane.

The tall cedar tree that stood along Mabey Lane. The third tier was higher than the top of this magnificent old cedar.

To build the flooring of a tree fort landing this very high, a person needs to be very careful. It’s a long way down. Each plank of wood had to be lifted up by rope. It was a pain staking process. It was a true labor of love. I remember my mom did not really approve of us building a tier this high. It really was a dangerous thing to do.

The limbs and branches of the old maple tree were thick and strong.

The limbs and branches of the old maple tree were thick and strong. And, they held us up well. The most dangerous part of building this incredibly high tier was in being fully aware of this great height, while nailing the boards unto the mighty limbs of the old maple. It wasn’t done in a day. It took about three full days to build this tier.

Yours truly standing in my old tree fort. Note the knotted rope clenched in my right hand.

There was one and only one way up to the third floor of my old tree fort. And that was by climbing up the knotting rope. It was a magical time of my life. It was a wonderful time. I thought it was going to last forever.

A photo of my old friend, Stuart in my old tree fort. The third tier is shown behind Stuart. Note it had an uneven slant to it. On the left hand side of Stuart’s right elbow, you can see two small shelves. Before the summer of 1965 was over, I put a covered box atop one of these shelves. The box was used to store comic books and Mad magazines.

When we were building the third tier, we ran into a big problem. The branches that supported the long boards were not even. So, we ended up having quite a slant to this tier. At one point we were going to abandon our dream to build the third tier. But then we decided it would be better to have the slant on the high tier than to not have it at all.

A photo of myself standing beside my beloved maple, on a summer’s eve. This picture was taken in 1994. I was forty years old.

The summer of 1965 was a magical, wonderful, joyous summer. I had no idea that by late September of that year the dreaded strep infection was destined to attack my throat and then my joints and then the chambers and valves of my heart. I was in for the fight of my life. Complete with four long-stays in the hospital. And, for one full year my feet never touched the ground. But for that summer, I was given the gift to find joy and splendor in building yet another tier in my magnificent tree fort.

This entry was posted in 1965, Accomplishment, Advice to the younger set, Be Strong!, Beavertown, Believe in yourself!, Boyhood Days, Childhood Friend, Comic Books, Dad, Destiny, Determination, Divine Protection, Dreams, Encouragement, Faith, Finding Your Purpose in Life, Friendship, Giving, Heroism, Life's Dreams, Lincoln Park, Mabey Homestead, Mabey Lane, Mad Magazine, Memory, My Old New Jersey Home, Never give up!, New Jersey, NJ, Nostalgia, Old Beavertown, Old Lincoln Park, Rheumatic Fever, Small Town America, Spiritual Lesson, Stand Tall, Stuart S., The old cedar tree on Mabey Lane, The Old Tree Fort, The Summer of 1965, To thine own self be true., Tree Fort, Wisdom. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Final Tier of My Old Backyard Tree Fort

  1. A lovely summer, indeed! But I’m sorry to hear you got sick afterwards. 😩

  2. Dear Dr. Phoebe,
    For me, my year-long battle with rheumatic fever gave me a golden opportunity to grow in so very many ways. It gave to me a certain spiritual strength. Also, I grew in my sensitivity to the pain of illness. As you well know, the pain in the joints (especially in the knees) of a person fighting rheumatic fever is like having a constant toothache.
    Back in 1965, the Barnett Hospital in Paterson, New Jersey was not all that sensitive in how they cared for children. I was put into this big ward room, about the size of a high school gymnasium. Boys and girls were integrated in the same room. It was very crude. I saw first-hand, the misery, the pain, the horrors of the illnesses that some of these children were enduring. It was not uncommon for a nurse to simply scold or holler at a child. Many of the children were younger than me. For I was 12 years old at the time. There had to be at least 50 children, in their hospital beds, crammed into that big hospital ward room.
    I remember that the nurses were not kind at all. They were stern, almost cold-hearted, in the administration of their nursing duties. They had absolutely no bedside manner. I was in the hospital that year, four separate and distinct times. Each hospital stay was at least two weeks. One time I was in the hospital for over a month.
    It was almost as though children were treated as second class citizens by the medical profession, back in the middle of the 1960’s. There was no consideration of the emotional and psychological care for the children. There were just harsh rules, cold-hearted nurses, and sadly a horrible stench that filled that large pediatric ward hospital room.
    My good friend, if time ever allows, please do take the time to study the sociological and psychological unfoldment of how children were treated in hospitals, prior to 1970. A lot of it is now buried. But truth can never be completely buried. It will bring a kind of sorrow to your heart.
    With much respect,
    Your friend,

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