Kudos to my colleague Beth Wilkins for troubleshooting Thunderbird into something close to submission.
In Tbird 6.x, we previously discussed how crumby the mailbox and subdirectory creation interface had become. You could create subdirectories but apparently only off the root of your IMAP directory, the "New Subfolder" menu item had apparently disappeared, and the "use as parent" menu item was apparently broken.
The secret: after you create your subdirectory (i.e. a folder that contains mailboxes), exit Thunderbird and restart it. Afterward it reloads, the "New Subfolder" menu item will be available again and you can create sub mailboxes to your heart's content.
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UVM, College of Arts & Sciences
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