I use the word “sledding” very loosely. We didn’t have sleds. Our corrugated boxes slid a lot faster since they had no brakes, but you had to keep an eye out for obstacles down below since there was no steering mechanism either. This meant that you had to roll out of your sled at just the right time. Late on a still, full-moon night with the refrozen snowpack glistening like diamonds, we could sled for hours. When our “sleds” fell apart, we would use the pieces.
In 1960, I think it was, it snowed every Friday for three weeks and we were out of school for a long time. We were all getting rather bored and even Mom was ready for a change. Our neighborhood was made up of all cousins, eleven of us, with acreage in between. Some of these cousins were from Mom’s family, and some from Dad’s family. Then there was Grandpa’s and Grandma’s spread with a four or five acre wide-open pasture. Since the cows were long gone by this time, the vacant pasture was perfect for our version of sledding.
We begged Mom to go sledding with us. Normally that was something that would not happen on a work day, or most days for that matter, since Mom had no time to play. But this day was special. Mom worked at home as a looper (see page 14) which enabled her to catch up late at night any work she missed. Most of the time, her work catch-up happened because of running errands to Newton Implement for parts to fix up vehicles and machinery of Dad’s that broke down. But this winter, Dad was driving truck long-distance and he was away.
So, Mom threw caution to the wind. She, with her brood, and the sisters-in-law with theirs gathered in Grandpa’s pasture with our virgin corrugated boxes. After a while, someone remembered we had an old car hood. What genius! You should try it. When we hit the terraces, that thing would give us a powerful lift. We still had to remember to somehow roll off each time before the car hood landed in the barbed wire. Several of us older kids would then pull our heavy “sled” back up the hill so another four or five could have a turn.
We had the most wonderful fun that we still remember today: with boxes and a car hood, in slippers, with no gloves, neither bonfire nor hot chocolate, and barreling towards towering pines and barbed wire, and our moms did NOT get arrested! Those were the days!