#039;Bad Boys Club#039; offers playhouse of dreams

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 29, 2005

"It's big and it's yellow and it sits in my backyard."

That was the way 6-year-old Richie Sutton described the retreat in his Ironton back yard - the target for this week's Dart - a veritable play palace to rival any young boy's imagination.

The retreat is an old Dodge van that has been hoisted onto a heavy wooden frame, decked out with a yellow slide, a faux rock wall and a ladder.

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The van is painted bright yellow, decked out with carpet, dimmer lights and even has a cable television hookup. And it has its own name: "The Bad Boys Club."

When Richie was two, his father, Mike Sutton, hauled the old Dodge van into their yard at Fifth and Pleasant streets and began turning the trash into treasure.

"I've always like to work on cars and I guess I just never grew up," he said with a laugh.

The boys' club house is a hit with all the other kids in the neighborhood, mother Bonnie Sutton said.

"Every day after school we usually have a yard full of boys," she said.

Asked what he liked best about it, Richie replied "My army gun." Yes, there are a collection of those in the van, too.

Mike Sutton's love of old cars is evident everywhere: Above the garage, the front half of a bright orange 1940 Ford Coupe juts out as if to welcome people to the Sutton home. The back end of the car is perched over the door leading to the house.

"It took me about eight months to do that," Mike said.

The auto additions to the Sutton residence have been in place approximately four years and since then, Bonnie said they tend to attract the attention of passersby.

"People will go down the road and then slow down and then you see them go through the alley," she said. "When they had the motorcycle thing downtown (Rally on the River), we had all kinds of people looking."

The Dart is a weekly feature in which a reporter throws a dart at a map of Lawrence County and finds a story where it hits.