Posted by Juliana Szucs on June 12, 2014 in Ask Juliana

playhouseLast week I took a little time off for my daughter’s high school graduation and spent a few days cleaning up the yard for her party. We have a little section off to the side where the playhouse she used when she was little still sits.

Now it’s used more to store my garden pots and tomato cages, but I don’t have the heart to take it down. As I cleared it out, I was reminiscent of the days when we first moved in here and she was in first grade. I let her paint the inside of it and she used to retreat there with her books. Like mother, like daughter.

So for this week’s Throwback Thursday writing prompt, I thought I’d choose childhood play spaces and hiding spots.

When I was young we had a playhouse in the backyard, although ours was more of a log cabin style. We’d hang curtains in the window and my sisters and I spent a lot of time playing in it.

When I wanted alone time though, I would retreat to a lilac bush on the side of the house. I had read the Little Women series and wanted a lilac bush escape like the March sisters, so that was an escape for me. Wasn’t quite the same though. There was no open space, but there was a gas meter behind it. So I’d grab my sit-upon that I’d made in Brownies and put it on top of the meter and hide out there every so often. It still wasn’t very comfortable, but I loved the smell of the lilacs and I pretended I was at Orchard House.

I also liked to hang out in a tree in the front yard. There was a branch over the sidewalk that was just the right height for me to climb up and sit on. I can remember my mom bringing my lunch out there to eat one time.  

When we moved to a new house when I was in 7th grade, there was no outdoor playhouse, but the previous owners had built a darkroom in the garage. My mother painted it pink, and we called it the “Pink Palace.” It was tiny but had sturdy shelves that we put cushions on and used for seating. There were also smaller shelves for books, making it a perfect reading spot.

When winter drove us indoors, there were forts to be made. Sheets draped over chair backs or hung from the front of the top bunk made for cozy getaways.

So what childhood escapes did you have? A secret garden? A cozy closet? Let’s get those memories in writing!

Juliana Szucs

Juliana Szucs has been working for for more than 19 years. She began her family history journey trolling through microfilms with her mother at the age of 11. She has written many articles for online and print genealogical publications and wrote the "Computers and Technology" chapter of The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy. Juliana holds a certificate from Boston University's Online Genealogical Research Program.


  1. Glenna Boswell

    Boy, did this bring back memories! I lived on a 17 acre ranch/farm, and one of the buildings about 50 yards from the house was a small, rough made, one room ‘play house’. It contained an old fashioned ice box and a counter on three sides. It was a cafe or whatever my imagination wanted it to be. I did not have siblings close to my age so I played alone a lot or with a friend from town. We made mud pies and fed them to strangers, travelers or whoever we imagined might come by. There were also sour cherry trees in the orchard 100+ yards from the back of the house, and they were perfect to sit in – play Tarzan, read, or just day dream. We also had a lilac bush in the front of the home plus a honeysuckle bush, which I spent a lot of time under. Oh, my what tender memories of childhood come rushing back. Thank you for initiating them!

  2. My childhood yard was overplanted by my gardener mother, so there were many shrubs to crawl behind and observe the world in secret. The trees were not friendly for climbing, though. Either the lowest branches were too high up or the branches were gnarled and twisted and not comfortable for sitting on. Just up the street and around the corner was a wooded area with a paved path in one direction and a simply cleared path in the other. Going on either path would lead us to many places to be on our own to talk or play cards or read or spy on others in the woods. A creek ran close to the path so we would catch crayfish and frogs, skip rocks in the wide places and throw rocks into the deep places laughing at the plopping sound. Wonderful ways to spend those days. Fun to remember. Makes me want to call my childhood best friend, Barbara.

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