Remembering times past: Sledding

My brother got a sled for Christmas back in the early 50’s. It wasn’t a Flexible Flyer, but one that was sold by the True Value Hardware store in town. (Flyers were sold by Western Auto)

I got it from him in the early 60’s because he never used it more than maybe once. I put it to good use, on our hilly city streets with our snow and ice and all. But the best story I have is about the time when Dad had a day off and volunteered to take me up to the golf course in town so I could go sledding….

Grab a cup of coffee, it’s time for a yarn.

Now this wasn’t one of those city-folk golf courses where they are all flat and pretty; no sir. This was the Elks course, and from the terrain, it must have been designed for real Elk, not the club. This course had been cut into the sides of the hills, and there was about a 400′ rise from the bottom of the course to the highest point. I later played golf there on our High School team, and BOY was it good for your legs!! #1 is at the bottom, and a creek runs alongside it. The other holes run crosswise to the hills, with about 50′ wide flat levels to play on and to drive carts through.

I sledded on the one side of the hill for a while, and I walked back to where my Dad was sitting in the car, enjoying the quiet with a cup of coffee, a smoke or two, and a good book. I told him that I was going to hike all the way to the top of the main hill and come down for one last trip before going home. He said, “Sounds like fun. See you when you get back.”

I hiked uphill for what seemed like a half hour or so. When I got to the top, I felt like some mountain climber at the top of the climb. Tired but exhilarated, I could see FOR MILES EVERYWHERE in that cold clear air!

But hey, I had a mountain to sled on, and I was going to go for it!! I backed up and got a good run, then belly-flopped the sled and me onto the downhill slope. Wow WHAT a rush! In seconds, I was going faster than I’d ever gone before! My eyes were beginning to tear up a bit, but my glasses helped keep the wind down. But I could sure hear the wind roaring in my ears.

Then I hit the first flat fairway on the way down. POW! I hit so hard that the impact knocked the wind out of me, but I hung onto the sled and kept going! I zoomed across that flat spot, and over the edge.

I had time to say, “Hey, I’m weightl…” before I landed downslope on the next slope. The sled had fallen out from under me a bit, but I kept my arms and hands in the same place so when I landed, I’d be in the same spot on the sled. (Experience helps…!)

Then I came to the next flat fairway. BAM! I got the wind knocked out of me AGAIN! This one was a lot narrower, so before I could recover… FWOOSH… I was weightless again!

Now I’m REALLY going fast downhill! My eyes are tearing up pretty bad, and… BAMMM! ANOTHER flat spot… FWOOOOSH… Out into thin air again. I held on better this time, determined to dig in once I landed and slow down a bit.

The last flat spot, I was more ready. Not so big an impact, but I pulled my feet up to savor the weightlessness as I sailed off the last flat spot and headed downhill toward the #1 fairway. Finally it flattened out and I was starting to burn off some of that speed.

Wow, what a run! But I was still going REALLY fast, and… OH crimony, I forgot about the creek! It was coming up fast, and there were trees every so often alongside it… I was heading right for one of those trees.

I started digging my toes in and reefing on the sled to steer it out of the way, but I couldn’t change course at all. OH NO, OH NO, OH NO-OH-NO-OH-NO-OH-NO-OH-NOOOOOO!!!! The adrenalin must have really kicked in at the last second, because suddenly the sled swerved to one side, dumping me off. I flipped over a couple of times, and then… all was quiet. I heard water running, real close.

I got to my feet and found I’d come to a stop about ten feet from the creek. The sled was out of sight somewhere behind me. I walked back and found it buried under the snow. I saw my runner marks and they took a 90-degree turn, right where I got flipped off the sled.

I walked back to the car, and heard my dad start it as I approached. I put the sled in the back seat and sat down. “Did you have fun?,” Dad asked. “Oh yeah, you wouldn’t believe the run I had.” Then I told him about it and he chuckled about it the whole way home.

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