In the winter, sled coasting seemed as important as bike riding in the summer.
My sledding story of 1/20/13, “The Winter Days of Sledding,” brought me back to the most memorable coasting I ever had. At age 10 or so, I knew the Flexible Flyer sled was the best of the bestest! I remember outgrowing it and asking Santa for a new bigger Flexible Flyer sled.
A Christmas or two came and went, although there were gifts, there was no Flexible Flyer! Yes, there were wet eyes. My Dad explained it was war time and certain things were not available. Oh well, I'll have to make do with I have.
On a Christmas school vacation week, sledding was most every day. Yes, some kids had new sleds. The New Year’s weekend was coming up, and the coasting was great. On New Year’s morning, as Dad was cooking breakfast, he looked at me and asked, “Why didn't you put your sled away last night?”
I was puzzled. I responded, “I did.”
“No you didn't,” Dad said. “Go look.”
As I neared the back door, I could see something sticking up in the snow – it kinda looked like my sled. But then, WOW! I saw a big, shiny sled!
I ran out of the porch, no jacket or boots, grabbed the sled out of the snow bank, and dragged it into the porch!
It wasn't a Flexible Flyer, but a big, long, sleek, brand new Champion sled! Oh, I could hardly wait to get to the hill to show off my Champion.
“But wait,” Dad said, “It's not broken in!”
“Huh?” I said. “Whata-I-hafta-do, Dad?”
He showed me how to polish the runners and wax them. I rubbed and rubbed them with a broken piece of sharpening stone, and waxed them with paraffin wax.
Oh boy, it sure ran fast on my little back yard hill! Now, off to the big hill on Summer Street.
Yes, it was fast! And it was faster than any sled on the hill that day!
A winter or so later, we had a very snowy winter. A foot or more snow crusted over, so it could be walked on without breaking through. Word got out that Doroni's hill on Pleasant Street was great sledding, and it sure was.
One weekend, the area kids gathered to race down that tomato field on top of a frozen crust. Franky C. had a long rope attached to his tractor and would pull us back up after a run. Not only did we have a sled tow, but on break, we could run across the street for an ice cream at the Peacock Tearoom. (See my blog of 4/21/08.)
Late on Sunday afternoon, I prepared for my last run. I waxed the runners, ran, and flopped on my Champion. I sped down that hill, a right turn onto Pleasant Street, down Pleasant Street, a sharp corner to the left and a long straight run to Summer Street.
Back then, the roads were not sanded. It seemed I'd never stop coasting! When I approached Summer Street, I slid to a stop into Gino Rugani's parking lot. I sat up, looking back at the hill in disbelief. It seemed like I just coasted a mile! That never happened again in my days of coasting.
by Ray Freden
Seaview, Marshfield 70 years