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1982

Building

Muffy is enjoying her nap when she is interrupted by the phone ringing. When she answers it, she is surprised to hear Jeff's voice. "Jeff, what's the matter, what can this mean, why did you phone and interrupt my dream?"

"Do you like your apartment?" Jeff asks.

"I like it fine, it's especially nice because it's mine." she answers. "That's what I thought," says Jeff, and hangs up before Muffy can find out why he wants to know.

On the other end of the phone, Jeff is feeling badly. Sam, Jodie and Muffy all have places of their own that they really like, and he doesn't have a place. He has the department store, but it's so big, eight floors isn't very cozy. And he doesn't really own the store, so it's not really his place. He wishes he had a place of his own to stay in, nothing fancy, something simple, just four walls and a few pieces of furniture. He would paint the walls "blue like the sky." Longingly, he sings, "I want a place of my own, a place of my very own."

So Jeff decides to build his own private clubhouse, and soon he is sawing away on a pile of wooden boards. "How do you like the clubhouse so far? I know right now it looks like just a mixed up jumble of wood, but, give me a few more hours to work on it and . . . well . . . it'll look like an even bigger mixed up jumble of wood." He realizes that he really doesn't know what he's doing, since he's never made anything before.

Jodie has heard the noise of his project and comes in to see what's happening. Jeff explains that his big project is "a big flop." He explains that he isn't very happy because he doesn't have a place of his own, and he doesn't know how to build one. He suggests that Jodie help him, but she has a kite display that has to be set up before morning. She says she can help him the next day, but Jeff doesn't want to wait that long, so she suggests that he get Muffy to help him. As Jeff eagerly goes to ask Muffy, Jodie tells us that by the looks of things, Jeff could use all the help he can get.

The mime is building something, too. She brings out a plank of wood and begins "hammering" in mime. When we guess that the tool she's using is a hammer, one appears in her hand. Next she mimes another tool, and when we guess that it's a saw, that appears too. TXL wonders what she's building, but we won't find out until later.

When Jeff finds Muffy, she's busy and has no time to talk. She's building a block tower, she won't accept help, and she tells Jeff she has to make it 23 blocks high, not 21, or 22, but only 23 will do.

"What are you doing," Jeff asks, "trying to set a new world's record for the tallest block tower ever built by a mouse?"

That's exactly what Muffy is doing, so Jeff realizes that she's too busy to help him. He wonders where he can find help, and then he thinks of Sam, and goes off to find him.

Meanwhile, Muffy continues to work on her block tower, singing, "You gotta keep on tryin', keep on tryin', keep on, keep on tryin'," despite the fact that her tower collapses.

Next we visit the mime lady again, and she has finished her project. It is a rather lopsided doghouse. But when she puts it down for the dog to get in, she realizes that the house isn't big enough for her dog, who is taller than the doghouse. TXL reminds her that "like the song says, you gotta keep on trying."

Jeff is still trying, too, but when it comes to building, he admits he's "all thumbs,"
and shortly after saying that, he hits his thumb with the hammer. When Sam comes in and cautions him to be careful, Jeff asks him if he knows anything about building.

"Do I know anything about building?" Sam says confidently. He says that in his old neighborhood they used to call him "Sam, Sam the building man." In fact, he likes building so much that on his day off, he visited a construction site.

Next we see Sam's visit, as he first shows us what the construction workers are building, a picture of what the building will look like when it's finished. Later he goes down on the site and helps out, directing a dump truck, hosing off the cement mixer, and driving a truck himself. He had a great time, and he says that if he hadn't been a sailor, he would have been a construction worker.

So Sam happily gets to work on Jeff's clubhouse. Jeff wants to help, but Sam tells him to stay out of the way. Hammering to the music, Sam sings, "Sam, Sam, the building man, can he hammer? Sure he can!" A sad Jeff sits down on the steps. Jodie comes by on her break and asks if she can help out, but Jeff says he already has too much help. He had wanted to do most of the work on his clubhouse, but now that Sam has taken over, he wasn't allowed to do anything. Jodie suggests he talk to Sam, but he doesn't want to hurt his feelings.

But Sam overhears the conversation and calls Jeff over to apologize. He then gets an idea, and hurries off. Soon he brings in a big cardboard box that he was going to throw away, and he suggests that Jeff fix it up to make it into a clubhouse. Jeff loves the idea, and starts planning where to make a window and how he can use the flaps for doors. Jodie even offers him some paint to fix it up with.

Next TXL shows us another construction site. She shows us from beginning to end how a house is built. When it's done, TXL says all it needs to make it complete is a family, because a family makes a house into a home.

Muffy is still working on her block tower and is doing quite well. "Oh, Muffy, you're a regular whiz, when it comes to building blocks that is!" But as she tries to add another block, her tower collapses again.

Next we hear a Willoby tale about a hot summer day on which the possums couldn't sleep. The children are bored and decide to build a raft to float on the river. They build a good raft, but don't realize that it is dangerous to go out on a raft by themselves. The parents think they're having a picnic, and don't know what they're doing. They tie the raft, named "The Smiling Possum," to a tree on shore, and they all climb aboard. But when the wind blows strongly into the sail, the rope snaps and the children are carried away with the current. Fortunately, Papa Willoby is nearby in a rowboat, and he is able to toss them a line and tow them to shore. "After that, for years to come, the only rafts allowed on Possum Ridge were the ones that floated in bathtubs."

Back in the children's department, Jeff is finished painting his clubhouse and he has made a window in it and painted flowers on the front and a window box. "I found a place of my own, yes a place of my very own," he sings happily. As a finishing touch, he puts a sign outside the window which says, "Jeff's Place."

Nearby, Muffy announces that she has finished her tower. Jodie eagerly counts the blocks, and it's true, there are 23 blocks stacked there. Jodie is thrilled and leads the applause for Muffy. "Hooray!" she cries. But Muffy admits that she's just a tease, this tower is actually held together with glue! When Jodie picks up the blocks, she notices that Muffy has included alphabet blocks in her tower, and they say, "Jeff's Place." It is a gift from her for Jeff's new clubhouse. "He'll just love it!" Jodie says.

"I just love it!" says Jeff when he receives Muffy's gift. He puts the blocks up on the clubhouse. Jodie and Sam have a present for him, too, a picture of the three of them to put on the wall so he'll remember them. Jeff says he'll never forget them, they're his very best friends.

"Here's to the four musketeers!" cries Muffy, "May we be friends for many years!" Everyone cries, "Hip, hip hooray, hip, hip, hooray!"

Since they're such good friends, Jeff says, he hopes they won't be mad when he tells them something. They're all leaning on the clubhouse, but it is still wet with fresh paint. Jodie and Sam groan, but Muffy thinks it's funny and laughs loud and long.


Quizzes:

  • In which of these places would a cow live: a cage, a barn, or an apartment? ("Wouldn't it be silly now to have a cow in an apartment?" TXL asks, and we see a picture of a cow sitting in a chair wearing glasses and reading the newspaper).

Nursery Rhyme:

  • There was a crooked man

Notes:

  • Building is very similar to Homes, in that Jeff is longing for a place of his own, but unlike Homes, here Jeff settles for something in the store. Still, that makes Building an unusual episode, because it so resembles another episode.
  • The quiz about where a cow lives was repeated in Homes.
  • Jeff Hyslop begins to display some of this comic talent in small ways here, this talent becomes more obvious in later years. Here, for example, when he explains the likely result of his project, (an even bigger mixed-up jumble of boards), and when he responds to Sam's warning about hammers, his facial expression and the timing of his lines are very effective.
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