Most fathers build their kids a treehouse. Wayne Drye built his son a time machine.
Daniel Drye, 13, is an avid fan of “Doctor Who,” a British sci-fi/fantasy/comedy/everything-but-the-kitchen sink show that has been taking the world by storm for the past 50 years.
“Doctor Who” is famous for its lightning-quick wit and for being impossible to explain. Let’s just say it’s about a time-traveling alien known only as “the Doctor” who travels through space and time in a ship shaped liked a Police Call Box — that’s like a blue phone booth, America.
It’s this ship, called the T.A.R.D.I.S., that the Dryes built together at the family’s Webb Road home.
Daniel saw the show last summer, when his brother was watching it on Netflix. He said he didn’t like it until he saw a few episodes from one of the later seasons. And now there’s no going back. Daniel loves the show and prefers to wear the characteristic dress of the enigmatic Doctor, a suit jacket and tie or bow-tie, even when he’s at home.
It was Daniel who suggested building the box. His father remembered watching the show when he was younger and agreed. He still sits in on a few episodes with Daniel, every now and then.
“They’re better now,” he said.
He’s not far off. When “Doctor Who” originally aired in 1963, it was an educational program meant teach kids about history and science. It went off the air in the ’80s, but returned in 2005 with new writers, a larger special-effects budget, and a new angle. It’s become a fantastic, almost mythical saga.
Wayne Drye said he would rather his son watch “Doctor Who” than a lot of other shows.
“It’s a clean show. It’s family friendly. It encourages his imagination.”
The two tackled the T.A.R.D.I.S. together as a father-son project. It took them about a month, using discarded pieces of plywood and other materials they had on hand. Drye said they had to buy a few things, but not many.
When they finished, the box was well over 6 feet and dwarfed anyone who stood next to it. They weren’t sure what to do with it. Then Drye had an idea.
“I said, ‘Let’s stick it out on the road and see if anyone says anything about it.’ ”
And that’s what they did. They had to use wheels and levers to get it there, but now the life-sized replica stands against the trees at the end of their driveway. The summer greenery makes the painted blue box pop out at passersby. It’s impossible to miss, and they’ve gotten quite the response.
Wayne Drye said they’ve had a few calls about the box, including one from a neighbor asking if it was for sale. He said he’s seen people stop, pull over and take pictures.
There haven’t been any knocks on the door yet, but Drye thinks it’s a matter of time. There have to be other Whovians, as the fans of the show are known, out there somewhere.
The box also has two working lights — a light-house-like lamp on top and an interior. Drye says that sometimes, they leave the lights on at night just to see it shining through the trees.
But the time machine isn’t finished yet. Daniel said he’s currently working on an interior console and will soon set off on his own adventures through space and time.
Rebecca Rider is a Catawba College senior and an intern at the Salisbury Post.