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Weekly Column by Brian Codagnone

June 24, 2011


While excavating for a new house in the weed-grown lot next door,workmen unearthed a surprising maze of caves and trenches. Evidently they had been dug many seasons before because bushes and weeds were growing luxuriantly from the soil spread over the roofs. Considerable grading and no end of fancy language were required before the lot was in shape to build on. But it proved that a well-made cave is about as substantial a clubhouse as a boy can make.

An important feature is the roof construction. This is of semi-trussed design and can be built from old lumber collected in the club members' backyards. It will drain well and keep the cave warm and dry in the meanest kind of weather.

Grade the excavated dirt away from the hole in an even slope. This helps to conceal its location. Piles of dirt would give you away in a hurry, and scouts from that tough gang over on Boiler Avenue would soon have your stronghold listed for future attack.

Save all the flat stones for the fireplace, unless bricks are available. The latter will make a better fireplace, however, without mortar. The roof or ceiling joists should extend at least a foot on each side of the excavation. The ridge support is made up of two two-by-fours laid one on top of the other, as shown in the diagram. The roof boards should be covered with tar paper or old canvas, or in a pinch, several layers of newspapers. At one end of the roof, tack heavy wire screen under the gable, and further protect this with a row of slats set at an angle. These are to partially support large stones placed against them to conceal the vent. If the stones are big enough they will not impede air circulation to any great extent. A trench is dug for the stove-pipe and, when this is laid, covered over again with dirt. Of course, it will be an advantage to have the chimney as far away from the cave as your supply of stove-pipe will permit. However, be sure that the top of the chimney is one or two feet higher than the stove. Otherwise your draft will be sluggish. Stones should be piled around the chimney to hide it, and it wouldn't be a bad idea to throw over the chimney itself some old junk, such as rusty washboilers, etc., that will not interfere with draft. In case a potential enemy sees smoke rising he naturally would assume it to be a rubbish fire.

Cover the roof with soil and then spread leaves and brush over it in a natural manner. Next spring new growth will spring up from the seeds thus sown. Dig a drainage trench around the "eaves" and fill with loose brush to hide it."

From "Building a Pirate's Cave"
Hi Sibley
Modern Mechanics, December 1929


The old man sat on the park bench as Jason walked by, engrossed in his Nintendo game.

"Gather round, children! I have a story to tell" said the old man.

Jason looked around. "I'm the only one here."

"Don't backtalk sonny! As I said, I have a tale to tell of when I was your age way back when".

What the Hell, Jason thought, and sat on the ground to hear the old man's story.

"When I was a boy every street had its gang, and every gang had a clubhouse".

Jason nodded, texting the details of his whereabouts just in case.

"Some were tree houses, some were shacks, but my gang, the South Side Lindy's, decided to build a pirate's cave. Why, you ask? The worst gang in town was the Boiler Avenue Gang. They were into all kinds of bad stuff; rigged stickball games, lemonade stand protection rackets, selling counterfeit Jughead hats and forged Roy Hobbs baseball cards. When Ethelred from the Oak Street Chums got a little too close to the operation everyone knows that Spike and Sluggo took him to the Boiler Room and waterboarded him until he spilled the beans about the location of their clubhouse. He was found dead in Old Man Beasley's peach orchard with what was described as a "self inflicted slingshot wound to the head". It was ruled a suicide. Self inflicted slingshot wound, my Aunt Fanny!"

"Your Aunt Fanny did it?"

"None of your sass, Johnny! We all knew the coroner was on the Boiler Gang's payroll. Yep, they were pretty tough!"

So, they never found your Pirate's Cave?" asked Jason, now mildly interested.

"Well, actually, Joey, it collapsed within a week. What the Hell do a bunch of ten year olds know about underground construction? Luckily, I was out buying Moxie, so I was the only survivor. I hooked up with the Maple Street Marauders and never looked back."

The old man was quiet.

"So that's it?" asked Jason.

"Pretty much. Well, run along, Timmy. Your mother will be looking for you!". And with that the old man passed out.





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Surf Our Site

Home ... Misfits . Rafferty .. . S1019 .. . Star Crossed....
. .
Ginger & Shadow. ..Embrace the Pun.. ..Cool Links . ..More Cool Links .
Oddities ..Link To Us... Guest Comics .. ..Books for Sale . Online Store..
The Cartoonists ..In The Zone . .Emotional Chaos . .Number 9