Authors: Beverly Cleary
Henry and the Clubhouse
Henry Huggins had a lot of good ideas that fall when he first had his paper route, but somehow his ideas had a way of not turning out as he had planned. Something always went wrong. There was, for example, that Saturday afternoon in October, when Henry found himself with nothing to do until it was time to start delivering
Naturally he wandered into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator to see what he could find.At the sound of the door opening, his dog Ribsy and his cat Nosy came running in case he should be planning to feed them.
“Henry, you just ate lunch,” said Mrs.Huggins, who had washed her son’s slacks and was now struggling to shove metal stretchers into the legs. “Can’t you find something to do instead of opening the refrigerator every five minutes?”
“I’m thinking, Mom,” answered Henry.
He was thinking that he would like to build something, some kind of a house. A doghouse, a tree house, or a clubhouse. A tree house would be pretty hard, but he was sure he could build a doghouse or a clubhouse. All he needed was lumber and nails.
“Well, think with the refrigerator door shut,” suggested Mrs. Huggins with a smile. She had succeeded in stretching Henry’s slacks and now she leaned them, tight on their frames, against the sink. “And
find something to do.”
“OK, Mom,” said Henry, and walked out the back door in search of something to keep him busy. He considered. He could go over to the Quimbys’ house and play checkers with Beezus, a girl whose real name was Beatrice, but her pesty little sister Ramona would probably spoil the game. He could go see if his friend Murph, who was the smartest boy in the whole school, was building anything interesting in his garage. Or he could try to sell subscriptions to the
That was what he should do, but somehow Henry was not anxious to start ringing strange doorbells. No, what he really wanted to do was build something. He decided to scout around Klickitat Street and see if he could find enough boards for a doghouse. That would be the easiest to build and would not take much lumber.
As Henry walked around the side of his house, he noticed his next-door neighbor’s car parked on the driveway with a U-Haul-It trailer attached. Now that was interesting, thought Henry. What was Hector Grumbie going to haul?
The front door of the Grumbies’ house opened, and Mr. Grumbie appeared to be coming out backward. This was even more interesting. Why didn’t Mr. Grumbie walk out frontward? Bit by bit more of his neighbor appeared, and Henry saw that he was tugging at something. Henry decided he had better investigate.
From the Grumbies’ front walk he discovered that Mr. Grumbie was pulling and Mrs.Grumbie was pushing a bathtub out of the house. They were sliding it across the floor on an old blanket.
Mr. Grumbie paused to wipe his forehead. “Whew!” he exclaimed. “These old bathtubs were built like battleships.”
“May I help?” Henry asked eagerly. After all, his mother wanted him to find something to do.
“Sure,” said Mr. Grumbie. “You can get on the other end and help push.”
Henry ran up the steps, and because the bathtub was blocking the door, he climbed into it, out the other side, and joined Mrs.Grumbie in pushing. Henry was secretly wondering, but was too polite to ask, if the Grumbies were planning to give up bathing.
Instead he inquired, “What are you going to do with it?”
“Take it to the dump,” answered Mr.Grumbie, “unless you would like to have it. We are remodeling the bathroom and have to get rid of it to make room for the new tub, which will be delivered Monday.”
Henry thought it over. There were all sorts of interesting things he could do with a bathtub in his backyard.Wash his dog Ribsy in it, cool off in it himself on a hot day, bob for apples at Halloween. Build a clubhouse around it if he had that much lumber. All sorts of things. A bathtub in the yard would be much more fun than a tub in the bathroom, but Henry was sure his mother would not feel the same way about it.
“No, thank you, Mr. Grumbie,” Henry said with regret and then he had a better idea. The new bathtub would come in a crate and perhaps Mr. Grumbie would let him have the boards to build a doghouse.
By that time several neighbors had come over to the Grumbies’ to watch. Even Ribsy had taken an interest and had come down from the Hugginses’ doormat where he had been napping. Mr. Grumbie tied a rope around the tub and with the help of Henry and the bystanders who hung on to the rope, eased the tub, bump-bump-bump, down the front steps, slid it across the lawn, and then boosted it onto the trailer, where Mr. Grumbie tied it securely.
“Want to go for a ride to the dump?” Mr.Grumbie asked Henry.
The dump! Immediately Henry pictured a fascinating jumble of old bathtubs, washing machines, tires, and baby buggies.There was no telling what he might find at the dump.There might even be some old boards he could bring home.
“Can I ride in the bathtub?” he asked eagerly.
“Sure.” Mr. Grumbie was agreeable. “Go ask your mother.”
Henry ran to the open kitchen window.
“Hey, Mom! Mr. Grumbie wants me to ride to the dump with him. Can I go?”
“All right, Henry.” Mrs. Huggins’s voice came through the window.
“Come on, Ribsy!” Henry bounded across the lawn and climbed into the bathtub. Ribsy scrambled in behind him.
“All set?” asked Mr. Grumbie, opening the door of his car.
“All set,” answered Henry, and Mr.Grumbie maneuvered the car and trailer down the driveway and into the street.
Riding in a bathtub, which of course had no springs or upholstery, was bumpy, but Henry did not care. No one else in the neighborhood had ever gone for a ride in a bathtub. He shouted and waved to his friends Scooter and Robert, who were playing catch on the sidewalk. They stared after him in surprise. Ribsy put his paws on the edge of the tub and barked.
When Mr. Grumbie stopped at the first stop sign, Henry saw his friend Beezus and her little sister Ramona, who had a lot of string stuck to her chin with Scotch tape. Henry guessed she was trying to copy one of the many disguises of Sheriff Bud on television. Ramona never missed the Sheriff Bud program.
“Hi!” called Henry.
“Hello, Henry.” Beezus looked with admiration at Henry in the bathtub. He could tell she wished she could go for a ride in a bathtub, too.
Ramona scowled ferociously and pointed straight at Henry. “Remember—only
can prevent forest fires.”
Henry ignored Ramona. He knew she was only repeating what she had heard Smokey Bear say on television all summer.
“So long!” he called to Beezus as Mr.Grumbie drove on.
Ribsy, tired of barking over the edge of the tub, curled up and tried to go to sleep, but whenever the trailer went over a bump, he lifted his head and looked annoyed. In the bathtub little bumps felt like big bumps. They rumbled and bumped down Klickitat Street to a main thoroughfare, and then Henry had an idea. He was the president of the United States riding in a parade! He sat up straight in the bathtub, nodding and waving and doffing an imaginary hat. Mr.Grumbie’s car became a column of tanks preceding him down the avenue, and one airplane in the sky became a formation of fighter planes overhead. Henry could practically hear the cheers of the throngs crowded along the curbs to watch his journey to the White House.