Readers... and thoughts so far
March Milestones


There are home movies of my siblings and I, along with some of the neighbor kids, from the summer that I was 11 when we built a "fort" along the fence on the other side of the wooded ravine behind our house. It was a pretty deep & steep ravine, too, so I don't know what we were thinking... probably not thinking at all!

There's a funny scene where it looks like a big sheet of plywood is walking (with help from Karen, though you can see only her hands and feet!). Michael and his friends were scraped up mightily after deciding to "ride" a piece of plywood down to the bottom of the ravine as if it were a sled... and it didn't quite work that way!

Our dad took the movies and let us raid the garage for lumber and tools*, but mainly he hid behind the Super-8 movie camera and left us to our own devices... and that was pretty great!

The mean old next-door neighbors complained about our fort and so it was rather short-lived.


Did you have a clubhouse as a kid? A playhouse? A fort? Everyone's built a fort, haven't they? With boxes, blankets, sheets, and the couch cushions! Right?

My husband built his first clubhouse when he was about 11!

1st clubhouse jun 27 1959Rusty's 1st Clubhouse - June 1959 - Sunset Beach, CA

And his second a few years later.

2nd clubhouse and fireworks standRusty's 2nd Clubhouse... and Fireworks Stand!

2nd clubhouse hanging out 2
2nd clubhouse hanging out 2Rusty's 2nd Clubhouse - Hanging Out.

2nd clubhouse insideRusty's 2nd Clubhouse - Inside, with Chris.

And, as a kid, finally a third. It seems he's always building something... or planning to build something... a clubhouse, a house, models, remodeling, etc.

3rd clubhouse Mar 1963 - Copy
3rd clubhouse Mar 1963 - CopyRusty's 3rd Clubhouse - 1963 (and that's Rusty in the photos!)

3rd clubhouse 1994
3rd clubhouse 1994Rusty's 3rd Clubhouse - 1994 (he's in the window) & 1995 (with the girls).

Clubhouse 20112011.

The first summer/autumn after we moved into our current house, Rusty rebuilt a huge stone retaining wall that accidentally fell over and down the hill when he jiggled it.

The second summer was earmarked for building a clubhouse for the girls!

11-10 Mothes
11-10 MothesA Playhouse for Our Girls! (1989)

Eventually, we wanted to build a garage and, with basically only one place it could go on our property, that little house was in the way. By then, our girls were older and not really using the playhouse anymore, so I thought we'd just tear it down and call it a happy memory... but, well, NO! That was not going to happen! Rusty insisted that the playhouse be moved... no small task... and we hired a sign company and their truck-mounted crane to lift it and lower it to its new location.

Um, yeah.

ModelModel Clubhouse, 2013.

So, about 20 years ago Rusty had an idea to write a book about clubhouses. He collected a lot of information from a lot of sources... and filed it away. It was a very busy time in our lives! Always percolating, a different spin on that book bubbled to the top a couple of years ago. He wrote a proposal and sent it off to some publishers and there was interest!

Published by Storey Publishing, it's a real book!! I snapped a quick pic when the advance copy arrived in the mail a couple of weeks ago. A great fit in Storey's catalog, the official release date isn't for a few days yet, but Keep Out!: Build Your Own Backyard Clubhouse: A Step-by-Step Guide can be pre-ordered on Amazon (also for Kindle)!

2013-03-03_1362321020Salt shaker for scale. Also furnishings! And secret escape hatch.

It's a great book, if I may say so. I'm so proud of my husband! Written for kids, 11 and up, it's 224 illustrated pages (most of the tech illustrations were also done by Rusty), meant to enable anyone to build their own outdoor shelter. It's as inspiring for grownups who haven't tried building before as it is for kids, and terrific for parents and kids to use on a joint project they can build together.

If you're interested in purchasing a signed copy, just let me know -- I think I can hook you up! The price is $18.95 (WI residents add 5% sales tax), plus $3.99 for shipping.

* * * * *

Naturally, I snagged one for a blog give-away!! How could I not??

Do you have a clubhouse memory?

Share it! (Or just say "Hey.")

I'll draw a name at random on Sunday, March 24th, at 6:00 pm CST, from all comments on this post to receive a signed copy of KEEP OUT!!

-- this contest is closed --

* * * * *

*Back when I thought every garage had a ready supply of lumber and tools!

In the interest of full disclosure, I participate in the Amazon Associates program and will receive a small percentage if you click through an Amazon link and make a purchase. (Thank you!)



The best of the clubhouses I ever had were the tent variety which were made wherever we wanted them (attached to the clothesline in the backyard, or perhaps, in the middle of the livingroom in the winter). But my dad HATED to work in wood.

Many kudos and congrats to Rusty!!!


I had a playhouse when I was little. It originally had been a little home made travel trailer, with the wheels removed. My uncle gave me the back seat of an old car for a sofa. I had a table and chairs, a lamp, shelves with old dishes and pictures on the wall. My mom made curtains and painted it pink inside. The floor was a pretty floral blue linoleum. We planted a flower bed next to it with bachelor buttons and nasturtiums. Every morning during the summers I'd go out and open the door and windows, sweep the stoop and tend my little garden. I have so many happy memories of those days spent in my little house.


My mother, now 89 yrs old, was the first and only grandchild of a builder. Grandpa Scott built her a 3 room playhouse, with double hung windows, locking front and back doors, kitchen cabinets, fire place mantel (with an electric heater) and furniture. The house also had working shutters on the windows and a picket fence. It was amazing. I have the doll crib from the house.


We mostly made forts in the hills behind my best friend's house across the road. Then her father built her a real playhouse and even as we got older we would eat our lunch in there in the summer time.
Even then I was mentally designing my own playhouse every time I went in there and the furnishings too (not much has changed!)
I love the model clubhouse - those little saw horses! (but you knew I would!)


I always wanted a tree house but it never came to fruition. Maybe if I had lobbied for a club house I would have had better luck! Congrats to Rusty on the book, I think it's a fantastic idea. I'd like to get a signed one for my library, too!


Our clubhouses were mostly empty lots where we made mud houses for our dolls or the unfinished basement in our house. Now I want to build a clubhouse on my patio!
I remember driving by a house in Midway Utah when you were visiting that had a wonderful playhouse in the backyard. We stopped for you snap a few photos and you told me about Rusty's book then.


It looks like a really great book. My girls have often requested a clubhouse...they seem to be making do theses days with our new trampoline


Love it! We had a play house built by Dad. He built it out of small trees that were cleared from our property, maybe 3" in diam. He lashed them together in a nice frame that had wide open spaces - so Mom could see us from the kitchen window and know we were where we should be. He made a roof out of a couple of bamboo screens everyone used to have, and planted morning glories and grape vines around it so they would grow and trail up the sides giving us the sense of privacy, still under a watchful parent's eye. Dad has built many full-sized houses since then, but that's still one of my favorites.


We had a playhouse in the back part of our ancient shed. It had an open front- the living room and the back part had a SECOND floor that one climbed up an iron bed part through a hole to the bedroom on the second floor. There was a peephole ( knothole) that looked to our neighbors yard just perfect for "spying". The best part was the back part that was below the bedroom - we had a very old wooden cabinet sink in our kitchen left over from a remodel- think mid 50's. I loved to play and clean in that playhouse. I don't know what happened to that girl that loved to clean. Now I love to knit and collect yarn.

Congratulations on what looks to be a wonderful book. Wishing much success!


How wonderful that he is sharing his love of clubhouses with the world!


FABULOUS! Kudos to Rusty. My clubhouse memory is when my dad built a raised clubhouse for the five kids... and finished it just a few weeks before a big tornado came through town and demolished it. All that work for nothing!


My copy is on it's way, or so Amazon tells me! Can't wait.

Kari W.

You bet we had a clubhouse only ours was built out of the cardboard from appliance boxes inside a thick old lilac border. It was a grand place to play with lovely shade in the heat of summer. When my sons were little, my husband made them a house on posts with a ladder to get up and a sand box underneath. It was a sad day for them when we moved and had to leave their fort behind. Thanks for the memories.


That is so cool! We finally have a property large enough to build a fort on and a baby on the way to start dreaming about the person to go inside the fort. Thank you for offering this fun opportunity.


My brother would never let me into his "fort"! My own son never got the treehouse that he wanted because we lived in a town house. Now he's getting married and I would love to give him a copy of your husband's book so that he can make his dream come true with his future child. Your husband is very clever!

Robin F.

When we first moved from an apartment to a house, I was 8 and my brother was 5, we had a clubhouse in the closet between our rooms. Later he and the neighbors built a clubhouse in the neighbors yard- no girls allowed.
Love the book and can't wait to read it.


I didn't have my own clubhouse growing up, but spent most of my summers visiting my aunt. She live in an old converted schoolhouse, and there was a small attached shed that I got to help clean up to use as a clubhouse. The little window looked out over a huge hydrangea.

I think if I built myself a "clubhouse" now, it would most likely end up with some overflow from my craft room, and not much else.


Every clubhouse I had was in my head! I tried, with my younger sister, to build something up in a tree--doomed to failure, as you might expect.

Hooray for Rusty's book in its new incarnation: a real, honest-to-god physical book, no longer just a dream!


When I was six and my sister was two, our dad found two large refrigerator boxes in a warehouse 'recycle'. Of course, he brought them home. We lived in a little house with brick factory walls on the left and right of a postage stamp lawn. A private yard just right for a cardboard house. We had many a 'hot' summer day in the boxes... good memories. Thanks.

(Not that) Joan

I find that little scale model absolutely charming... I used to dream about having a small, perfectly appointed fort to hide away in. Now I have a yarn closet. :)


We never did buid a club house as a kid - but spent a lot of time hanging out in unlocked garden sheds around the neighborhood. This book will be a great gift for my brother and I am looking forward to reading to too. Congratulations to Rusty!


I never built a clubhouse but my dad built one for me when I was four... he told me as he was building that it was a chicken house (with windows, linoleum floor, shelves and siding). I'd love the book to give to grandkids for their clubhouses!

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