Me and Jake wasn’t going to waste this day off from school.  No siree.

Winter only comes ‘round once a year, and great snows like that one last night sure don’t hap­pen often.

The two of us lived near to our school here in town and because it was a city school, we sure didn’t get much time off since all of us had to get there on our own, while the coun­ty kids got to ride buses.

But today was spe­cial, and the snow was so deep that even teach­ers didn’t want to get out their galosh­es and tramp through knee-deep snow just to put up with a full day of row­dy kids.

Also, in the city, nobody had the job of clean­ing snow off the streets.  If a per­son had to dri­ve some­where, well, that was just tough. DO THE BEST YOU CAN!

So, on our street, which was a nice gen­tle hill, snow that got crunched down by all them crazy folks who decid­ed to get out and dri­ve any­way, became a nice, slick — and pret­ty soft — sur­face to put the ol’ sled through its paces on.

As soon as we could con­vince our par­ents that school wasn’t gonna hap­pen and that a full day with us in the house was not in their best inter­est, we put on our galosh­es, ear-flapped caps, and heavy coats — prob­a­bly left over from last year — and cot­ton gloves or mit­tens and head­ed out to tempt fate… and the few pass­ing cars still tryin’ to get through the snow.

Course, we knew that the first tossed snow­ball was gonna leave them cot­ton gloves soaked and that our fin­gers would sure quick start to feel the cold, but snow and snow­balls and snow forts and sled­ding ain’t to be denied.

Our sled­din’ route was near a full block long, nev­er mind what lay at the end of the run.  Our street and hill end­ed at the bot­tom at a cross street, and this was gonna present a prob­lem a lit­tle later.

Our first runs down that won­der­ful sled­din’ path were most­ly unevent­ful, and our treks back to the top of the hill only helped to increase the speed of each lat­er run, as we tamped down the snow even more and slick­ened the sur­face.  Rubbin’ down the sled’s skids with bar soap sure didn’t hurt neither.

On about the tenth or fif­teenth run (who’s countin’?), fortune’s smile became a wry grin.

As we came to the bot­tom of the hill, set to cross that street at the bot­tom, with the wind set­tin’ our cap’s ear flaps a‑goin’ like bloodhound’s ears in a wind­storm, we real­ized that our speed was goin’ to car­ry us right onto the street’s curb on the oth­er side.

Jake was fran­ti­cal­ly workin’ his feet on the sled’s front cross­bar, tryin’ to change direc­tion as much as pos­si­ble (there ain’t a lot you can do with a sled about to break the ground speed record), but at the last minute when we both screamed “Oh, no” at the same instant, the sled came to an abrupt stop while Jake and me con­tin­ued on, just like those dead ani­mals you see on car­toons of cat­a­pults, com­ing to rest against a pick­et fence with arms and legs thrown ever which way against a lot of broke and bent fence slats.

We was both shak­ing our heads to rid them of the stars going ‘round and ‘round as well as try­ing to dis­lodge the snow from under our col­lars and inside our caps, and checkin’ to make sure we still had on all the clothes we start­ed with as well as all our extremities.

I reck­on I was think­ing this was prob­a­bly a good time to go home for a cup of hot choco­late, (and to thaw out my cold fin­gers and wet cot­ton gloves), but as Jake regained his sense of speech, all he could come up with was “Oh, boy!  That was ter­rif­ic!  Let’s go again, Charlie!”

  • Chuck Witt

    Chuck is a retired archi­tect, a for­mer news­pa­per colum­nist, and a life­long res­i­dent of Winchester.