As I grew up at Bynum, there were times when I wanted to be alone with just my thoughts.
We had so many friends, it was quite difficult to find a place of privacy. Many kids would go to the playground so that was not the place to be in private. Our apartments were small with very little extra room. But, I found my place and I called it my "Fortress of Solitude". I got the title from superman comics. Until now, I never shared the existence of that special place with anyone else.
My "Fortress of Solitude" was in the woods above Little Manor and across from the theater building. It was a huge cedar tree that had been pushed over towards the railroad. The huge root ball of the tree faced back towards the little manor and appeared to block any way of getting around to the trunk because the tree had been pushed over to the edge of the bluff facing the railroad. But, I found that if you crawled underneath a honeysuckle and briar patch, you could get to the other side and, it even had roots exposed that were just like steps.
I scrounged up a piece of canvas and some pieces of 2 X 4 and built a small awning off the root ball out on to the remains of the trunk. The trunk of the old tree had been destroyed except about 20 feet which had no limbs left on it. It was huge at the base and was about 6 or 7 feet in diameter. The exposed trunk surface was also very flat where it met the giant root ball. There were small pockets in the root ball where I could stuff things I might need.
Many an hour of solitude was spent in my place of privacy dreaming of building giant spaceships and traveling to the stars. I had some paper and pencils hidden there so I could scribble down diagrams of such craft. One of my fantasies was a ship that traveled with the power of hyper electrostatics. I thought this was possible because I won the state science contest with a home-built Van De Graff generator which developed very high voltage with electrostatics. In my mind, it was all possible and I just knew I would someday travel to other planets in other galaxies with my unique spaceship.
Many times after I left Bynum, I needed that old tree, uh I mean my "Fortress of Solitude". Every time I hear my favorite song "Faith of Heart" my thoughts return to that special place.
My "Fortress of Solitude" was very important for me. It gave me a place of respite from the many pressures of my growing up and an escape from reality. I wonder if the old tree is still there. I can still see the image of a skinny kid sitting there under the makeshift awning dreaming impossible dreams and smell the aroma of the old cedar trunk.