Pop Culture
Jan 06, 2014, 07:16AM

Sledding Down Memory Lane

It’s fun if you make it to the bottom in one piece.

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There is a small hill rolling down from the top of a reservoir to a small field near my house. It’s one of the few hills, if not the only one, on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The other day I drove by and saw children sledding down it and was reminded of my childhood and how sledding was an all-consuming activity in the winter.

I grew up in the mountains of Western Maryland. We used to sled some pretty big hills.

One, in a back alley near our house, we rode all the way down to Hill Street—a distance of about a quarter mile over rough terrain. It was a lot of fun if you made it to the bottom in one piece. There were also some pretty steep roads. Why no one ever got killed at the bottom of those roads at the unforeseen intersection is a miracle.

I remember towing my sled to wherever the hill of the day was and flying solo, doubling up or just piling bodies, one on top of one another, layered for a crazy ride down. Sled riding was being free. If there was snow, and you didn’t have school, you rode and rode until it was dark and you were forced to go home. Your parents couldn’t call you because there were no cell phones. You just knew no matter how cold, how icy, how dangerous, you had to keep sledding until the sun went down.

There are a few plastic dish sleds in the barn. I guess my children used them but I can’t remember them ever sledding. We do live at sea level. Maybe my husband and I pulled them through the snow when our bodies were young and strong. I don’t know. I do remember a friend of my daughter’s who was a farmer, taking the hood off his pick-up truck, turning it upside down, piling kids on it and towing them through the snow behind his tractor. That was pretty cool but not quite the excitement of racing down a hill not knowing if you would fly off or not.

I’m tempted to take those plastic sleds and ride down the small hill tomorrow. Will the kids there think I’m a nutcase? I’m not sure, but since I’ll feel young again, I don’t care.

  • A Rosebud by any other name but Flexible Flyer would not coast so sweetly. A buddy of mine had his own like me, but he also had access to his pop's original FF "Airline Pilot" model, a stretch stunner that could accomodate a four-kid bobsled team. Beyond our Jersey neighborhood molehills were the slopes of Plainfield Country Club, where we would be Bel Air-lifted via twotone 56 Chevy sedan. Kathy,my saucer experience was similar. Got an early fiberglass model one Christmas, but the novelty wore off fast, and it quickly got passed down the sibling pecking order.

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  • I remember using candles stolen from mom's dining room drawer to wax the metal rails on our Flexible Flyer before we hit "Killer Hill" (we lived on a road called Hilltop Drive) growing up in Pennsylvania. As you know, I live on the Eastern Shore of MD now as well, and luckily there is a decent snowing hill (jokingly referred to as "Mount Centreville") near the wharf here in town so my kids will at least have round plastic sledding memories.

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  • Capital! Forgot that move, Mary. Hit the kitchen drawer, pick and pocket the runt of the candle litter and one was good to go.

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