Sure the floor was crooked and the walls were uneven and had a sheet for a roof that leaked when it rained but it was ours and me and Jimmie built it.
It was August, 1945. Me and Jimmie Anderson ran away from home. We were hiding out in our treehouse on account of because Jimmie got grounded. It really wasn’t his fault or nothin. We needed a roof on our treehouse so Jimmie asked his Momma if we could use a sheet and she said it was ok.
He got grounded because his Momma told him not to use her company sheets. I guess Momma’s have regular sheets and special company sheets for when company comes. Jimmie’s Gramma was comin’ to stay a couple days on account of because Jimmie’s dad was off fighting in the war. He’s a pilot for the Air Force and been gone a really long time. Jimmie’s Momma was feeling sad so his Gramma was comin’ to make her feel better.
Well, anyway, Jimmie couldn't reach the sheets so his brother Davy got them for him. Davy is fifteen and always gettin' Jimmie in trouble. So when his Momma found out Jimmie took her company sheets she got really mad and told him “James Patrick Anderson," you know you're in trouble when your Momma uses all three of your names, "you march yourself right out to that treehouse and bring back my good sheets. And when you get back you can just sit in your room until I tell you when you can come out.” That’s when Jimmie got grounded.
Jimmie lives next door so I heard his Momma yellin’ at him. His Momma can yell almost as loud as my Momma. I followed him out to the treehouse to see what she was yelling ‘bout. He said he was gonna run away because it wasn’t his fault. Davy got him in trouble and when his Momma asked if that was true Davy said he din't know what she was talkin' 'bout. He was in his room so Jimmie decided he was gonna run away. I told him I was gonna run away with him so he wouldn’t be lonely. I had to tell Momma first though. I din’t want to her worry when I din’t come home for supper.
“It’s ok Jimmie” I said reaching into the paper sack my Momma gave me so we wouldn’t go hungry while we was runnin’ away from home. “We can stay in our treehouse until we figure out where were we're goin'” I handed him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich Momma wrapped in wax paper.
“This is all stupid Davy's fault” Jimmie said taking a giant bite of his sandwich. It was so big his cheeks puffed out like a chipmunk with a mouthful of nuts. I din’t tell him he had peanut butter on his nose.
“Did you tell your Momma you was runnin’ away?” I asked taking a bite of my sandwich. Boy, Momma makes the best peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the whole wide world.
“Nuh-uh” Jimmie took another bite of his sandwich.
“Oh” I said folding up the wax paper from my sandwich. Momma always said not to be wasteful; “money don’t grow on trees you know” she always said; so I made sure I was extra careful not get any peanut butter or jelly on the wax paper. “Well, maybe you could write her a letter” I said and pulled the box of cookies Momma packed for us. Chocolate chip. Those were my favorite.
Jimmie took two chocolate chip cookies and a bottle of coke. “Yeah” he said and ate his cookies and drank his coke.
We din’t say nothin’ to each other for a really long time. We just sat and ate our cookies and drank our cokes. I drank my coke too fast and I burped so loud Jimmie jumped then he laughed so hard he had coke come out his nose. We laughed so long we almost forgot about runnin’ away.
After a while we started to get a little tired so we spread out our sleeping bags. We figured we should rest up before we run away. Our treehouse has just about everything we need. We have an old wood box we keep all our supplies in like our sleeping bags, a deck of cards, and some army men so we could live in the treehouse practically forever if we wanted. We even have an old bucket for when we have to, well, for just in case.
Jimmie snores when he sleeps but I din’t say nothin’ when he woke up. We ate the rest of our cookies and decided we should figure out where we was gonna run away to.
“How much does runnin' away cost?” he asked.
“I don’t know. Do you have any money?” I asked thinking about the five pennies I had in my piggy bank in my room. I din’t really want to spend them since I was savin’ up because Momma said when I got to ten cents she would take me to the bank so I could open a bank account of my very own.
Jimmie pulled some coins from his pocket and carefully counted them. “I have five cents” he said holding the five pennies in his hand. “Is that enough for a bus ticket?”
I shrugged. Momma wouldn’t let me take the bus by myself. Not even with Jimmie and he was eleven almost twelve just like me. Momma didn’t take the bus except “under special circumstances” so she walked everywhere.
“What if we got on one of those trains down in the train yard?” Jimmie said, “Lots of people take the train. I heard even some kids too.”
The train yard was on the other side of town. There were a lot people who din’t have any money that liked to hide in the box cars to get free rides on the train. Momma always said on account of because Papa was fightin’ in the war for us we need to support him and our country by payin’ our own way.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea. Momma says we should always pay our own way” I said to Jimmie.
He put his head in his hands and sighed. “Yeah” he said, “I suppose we could walk” he lifted his head and looked at the empty paper bag. “Do you think your Momma will make us some more sandwiches before we run away?”
“I think so. Maybe if I tell her we wasn’t ready to run away yet but we was now she’ll make us some more sandwiches” Momma never wanted anyone to go hungry. She was always making food for our neighbors the Johnson’s. She said Mrs. Johnson was suffering from the arthur itis in her hands and couldn’t cook to good and Mr. Johnson was so deaf and blind he couldn’t see the side of a bus comin’ if it run him over.
“My Momma was baking a chocolate cake for when my Gramma comes” Jimmie remembered, “Maybe she’ll give us a couple of slices since I’m not gonna be here when Gramma comes”
“Good thinking” I said, “We should make a list” I looked around for something to write on but could only find the paper bag Momma gave me. I picked up the bag. Maybe if I write really careful it will be ok I decided. I took my pencil out of my pocket.
“Number one” I wrote careful to not put a hole in the bag, “Food”
“Number two… money, Number three…” I tapped the pencil to my cheek. “What else do you think we need?”
“Uhm” he looked around the treehouse, “Sleeping bags!” he said pointing to our rolled up bags.
“RIGHT!” I said and wrote it down.
“We can use my wagon and take turns pulling it” Jimmie said.
“Good thinkin’” I said and wrote it down, “Number four… Jimmie’s wagon. Anythin’ else?”
“I don’t know. I never run away before” Jimmie said trying to think.
“I’ll ask Momma when I get food. She’ll know” I said. Momma knows everything. She would definitely know what we need to run away.
All of a sudden Jimmie’s eyes got really big and sat up really straight. Like Momma makes me sit in Church. “Do you think we’ll have to take a bath?”
I din’t think about that. Momma always makes me take a bath. And brush my teeth. And comb my hair. She says no son of hers is gonna run around like a filthy savage. I never seen a filthy savage but it must be pretty bad if Momma don't want me lookin' like one.
“Maybe we only have to take a bath if someone tells us to” I decided after giving this matter some careful thought. “We should bring a toothbrush though just in case someone asks if we have one. We don't want to get into trouble while we're runnin' away.”
We decided we had a good plan. We would bring everything we could from our treehouse and a few select toys from home then put everything in Jimmie’s wagon.
“I should return Momma’s sheet if we’re not gonna be here anymore” Jimmie stared up at the sheet that got him into trouble in the first place.
“That’s probably a good idea. You can give it to her and tell her you’re sorry when you ask for the cake” I din’t think it would be good idea for a fella to run away without saying he’s sorry first. “I’ll help you take it down.”
We put the sheet on top of the pile in the corner of the treehouse. We hauled up the bucket we had tied to a string so we could pull up things without having to leave the treehouse. We loaded what we could into the bucket and carefully lowered it down to the ground.
We climbed down the ladder and put everything in Jimmies wagon then climbed back up the ladder and pulled up the bucket. We put more stuff in the bucket and let it down.
We did this a lot more times then climbed up the ladder and sat in our treehouse one last time. This was the last afternoon we’d ever spend in our treehouse so we had to make it last.
“I’m kinda getting hungry” Jimmie said rubbing his belly.
“Yeah, me too” I said rubbing my belly.
Just then we heard both our Momma’s yell at the same time. “Billy! Jimmie! It’s time to come in and get cleaned up for supper!”
“Maybe we should run away tomorrow” Jimmie said.
I peeked through the holes in the treehouse. I could see Momma standing on the steps calling me. She had on the blue dress with the small yellow flowers she wore every Saturday with a white apron tied around her waist. She still had her black hair tied up in a bun on top of her head. She was so pretty. I sure was gonna miss Momma when I run away.
I said ok. Besides, I wanted one more night with Momma and she made my favorite. Sketti and meatyballs for supper.
We climbed down the ladder as fast as we could. Jimmie grabbed the sheet and tucked it under his arm.
“Bye Billy! See you tomorrow!” Jimmie said waving as he run home.
“Bye Jimmie!” I yelled back “See you tomorrow!”