They were big and cumbersome, and not particularly comfortable. The adults said they were called “Adirondack Chairs,” which did little to explain their presence in Sullivan County. Still, they were as ubiquitous as the sun and the grass, along with the metal chairs, the ones with a fan like back that seemed to rock if you pushed them hard enough. Each season the chairs received a fresh coat of paint, always a different color than the last. It’s likely that by the time they were consigned to the scrap heap that the paint accounted for more weight than the wood.
With the advent of “truckers”–men with vans and small trucks who, for a fee, would cart many of our belongings to the colony for us, scheduled to coincide with our arrival–our parents began schlepping up our own personal lawn furniture. Suddenly we had a collection of folding chaise lounges, and nifty rockers. The generic colony lawn furniture appeared to be relegated to obscurity–like the alley balls at a bowling center when the pros turn up. Ah, but we were kids, and as such we quickly ascertained the most advantageous use for all those wood and metal chairs.
We built forts. You remember, don’t you? A dozen chairs turned on their sides, the seatbacks tilting to the sky, assembled on the lawn, covered by someone’s mom’s oldest and most tattered quilt. Access was allowed only through one portal, usually necessitating squirming through the armrest area of a wooden chair. One kid stood guard, cautiously alert, ever vigilant to ward off intruders. Inside, underneath the quilt, beneath the chairs, the sun filtered through a prism of wool and wood and metal and dust. It was cool and dark and mysterious. It was private and exciting and fun. We stocked the fort with comic books and cookies, flashlights and coffee tins filled with salamanders. We congregated within for hours on end, constructing stories, sharing secrets, exchanging lies. Once, on a Friday evening, after obtaining a nebulous consent from our dads, we managed to convince our moms to allow us to sleep out the night inside the fort. There, together in feety-pajamas, the small glow of the flashlight coloring our faces, we drew closer together and swore each other eternal loyalty and undying friendship. Then we huddled together, brothers against the night, eight years old and the world at our feet.
If those guys are still out there, the ones with whom I once shared that night…everything I said then still stands. You are still my brothers, and I wish you were here.
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