Mr. Frank, In the Dog House

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: The writing at the bottom appears to say “Interesting” Big Tree Park on Redwood Highway 222-Art Ray. May we assume that the dog in residence is indeed Mr. Frank? His tidy little house is evidently constructed of some of the castoffs from the redwoods in question and he looks like quite the official resident. My guess, after an internet stroll, is that this is probably from the Big Tree Drive-Thru, Avenue of the Giants in California, where according to Roadside America today you can still drive through a tree today. It features such entertainment as the step through stump, drive-on tree, immortal tree and world famous tree house. Let’s put those aside however and instead contemplate for a moment what was probably a similarly touristy, but somehow more charming and decades older version of the Redwood Highway stop, one where you would meet Mr. Frank and stop for a cool drink or picnic, perhaps as a break from a longer journey.

However, for me this photo brings to mind a doghouse from my childhood. I arrived at about age six in a suburban neighborhood with a fully formed, roaming hoard of kids and pets. In addition to sort of a dozen kids ranging widely in age, it also included numerous cats, and canines, including our German Shepard, Duchess. (I also remember a Dalmatian, aptly named Chief, who actually belonged to a child-free neighbor, but whose boundless excess energy urged him to routinely run up and down the length of many yards.) All of this chaos and claptrap ground on the nerves of our next door neighbor, a loudly proclaimed child and animal hating Mr. George Smith. To his oft lamented chagrin, he had the honor of being wedged between our house and another house chock full of kids, the Jakes family – who had as many kids and pets as we did, the three roughly the same ages as us. One day I may write more about that neighborhood, and George in particular, who was a well-known science fiction writer. He drank heavily and made no secret of his dislike of the kids and animals which encircled him and his wife on a daily basis. To the extent possible, we avoided him and his adjoining yard. The cats and the dogs could not be urged otherwise and he threatened them with buckshot.

The yards were unfenced and generally Duchess lived inside with us, although the cats were free range at the time. However, at some moment my parents were seized with I don’t know what inspiration (perhaps 3 children in a rather tiny house also sporting several cats and said large dog meant that moving anyone or anything out of the house was desirable?) and they built a pen for Duchess outside. Then, somewhere (I suspect a garage sale) my father acquired a gently used, quite sizable, wooden doghouse which was an unbelievably good match for our own green shingled house. He installed it in the backyard with the intention that Duchess should spend time out there. To our great surprise, shortly after George Smith brought over a tiny wooden tv antennae that he had constructed and painted silver. One couldn’t say he didn’t have a sense of humor. It was installed atop of  the doghouse, where it sat proudly for a number of years. Alas, Duchess hated the doghouse and I have no memory of her ever in it. (Instead she preferred wedging her 60 or so pound self between my parents on their bed, where she had nestled as a puppy.) I was somewhat fascinated by the doghouse, even if she was not, however we left it behind when we moved several years later.

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