Last night, while finishing my reading rounds, my blogging buddy, Theresa, made mention about an accident she had while sled riding and boy, did that bring back some memories to me about my childhood!
The village where I live is surrounded by hills - I live in the "valley" section. Across the road from my house is this really nice hillside - just great for sled riding. If you go up almost to the top - to where the old railroad tracks used to be -start there and come down, the path has a little bit of a curve -very slight though -then it is a nice wide open space till you come to the road you have to glide across and from there, down the alley between my house and the neighbors, till the alley curves. Then you go down over about a 5 foot hump type part into the back field and if it is really good sled riding snow - all packed down, kind of iced over in parts, you can ride clear down to the creek behind my property. This creek has a proper name - Moravian Run - but in town here it is better known as the Sulfur Creek due to the heavy pollution it received in the early part of the 20th century from the old coal mines that used to exist in the upper part of town.
Those of us who grew up along this street always referred to this hill as "Albert's Hill" because of the neighbor man, Albert Werner, who lived beside our sledding spot. The part where we hit the slopes with our sleds was originally supposed to be an alleyway but it never materialized as such. I'm not sure if it actually ever really belonged to Albert or if he just sort of, over the years, incorporated it into his property. But neither he nor "Doc" Lundgren, who lived on the other side of this "alley" (in the house built by my great-grandparents) ever objected to all of the kids down here using it for sledding anyway. It was theirs to care for during the summer - mowing the grass etc., and come winter, the "ownership" shifted over to the kids for our snow fun and sledding pleasure.
The year I was a freshman in high school we got hit with a very big snowfall over Thanksgiving that year. It was a nice fairly deep accumulation and though I don't remember if my mishap took place on Saturday afternoon or Sunday afternoon -I rather think it was Sunday -but there were four of us out there on the hill on that particular day.
I was a bit of a tomboy when I was a kid so that day, I was out in the snow on the hill with three boys - my next-door neighbor's son, Cyril "Sonny" Little, Bobby Nelson and Daryl "Sharky" Gurbal. For whatever reason that day, we were not starting at the top of the hill but rather at the mid-way part and we were racing - four abreast down the hill. All had been going along fine and dandy until for some reason - I have no clue why I did this - I decided to go down without my sledding pals racing beside me.
I hopped on my trusty old sled and was sitting up, steering with my feet instead of laying down on the sled. As I neared where our sledding path crossed over the road, suddenly I realized Sharkey's older brother, Billy, was walking up the street and he had begun to wave wildly to me, shouting at me, "Car, car, Jen! There's a car coming!"
Now, instead of doing this intelligently and simply hopping off the sled - which move I could have made with no or very little problem, I took my right foot off the steering part and began to drag it in the snow (spragging is what we called it) to slow my speed and possibly stop the sled before I got to the road.
Well, that worked to some degree - it did slow me down but it didn't stop my sled. Luckily, the guy driving the car was driving very slowly - he was actually "trolling" as he had a major crush on one of Sonny's older sisters at the time -so he had almost come to a stop as he saw me and my sled coming into his path.
My sled -with me on it - hit the right front tire of his car. Upon colliding, the middle board of my sled sprang loose, flew up and smacked me dead center in the middle of my face. Strangely enough, I didn't get a bloody nose though. The front of the sled was pretty mangled though thus ending its illustrious career carrying me down the hill for my winter fun activities.
Billy began to run up the road towards me and my sled, asking if I was ok. Almost immediately, Sonny's mother appeared on their front porch calling out his name to see if he was ok. "Yeah, Ma - I'm all right." he hollered back to her. About the same time, Bobby's mother, Gert, came out on their porch and called to Bobby, asking if he was ok. Yeah, he was ok too. Sharkey (and Billy)'s home was further down the street - not in view of Albert's Hill so their mother, Alta Mae, had no idea anything at all had happened.
Billy helped me get up, gather up my sled and limp across the road, down the steps to my house.
As I got to the front door of our sunporch - where my Grandmother was sitting writing letters to her children - my Mom met me at the door then, with a question of her own.
"Was that YOU who hit that car out there?"
She helped me inside, taking my coat, snowpants, etc. and all the while sort of checking to see what, if any, body parts had been damaged other than my nose and forehead - which had by that time already begun to pop out a great big goose egg on my forehead. My right knee hurt and I was limping but there was nothing broken -just twisted it a good one, I did.
Later that evening, while I was reposing in the living room, watching tv, there was a knock at the door. Mom answered it and found a guy (Eddie Nadzom) who lived two doors up the street from us standing there. He said he was just stopping by to see if I was ok, from having wrecked my sled earlier that day.
Mom told him yes, she thought everything was fine - that I would live. Yes, this was my Mom, the registered nurse, showing all the caring she could muster for her sweet, dear ONLY child!
Sometimes, the amount of excitement she would show over childhood injuries to me amazes me as I think about them now. If that had been one of my kids I'd have been a nervous wreck but my Mom apparently had nerves of steel.
That week, when we went back to school, my leg -or rather my right knee -was swollen to about 3-4 times its normal size -very, very stiff and very, very bruised and discolored as well.
Back then, to catch the school bus, we had to walk close to 3/4 of a mile to the center of town. On the way home from the bus stop, we had to pass by the post office so it was my duty then to stop and pick up any mail waiting. Well, wouldn't you just know it but as I gimped my way into the post office, I found out there was a package there for our household. As the postmaster brought it to the window and slid it to me, he informed me it was very heavy and he wondered if I'd be able to handle it.
Well, my best friend, Kate Nelson was with me (this would be an older sister of Bobby, one of my sledding companions) and she and I decided it would be no problem, that we could manage to lug this package home.
I knew what was in the package and I also knew we really were in dire need of it too. It was grates for the coal furnace we had at the time! So off we went, heading down the road -the two of us trying to carrying this package, struggling to carry it really as yes, indeed it was very, very heavy. The fact my leg was really buggered up didn't do a thing to help us either.
We got down just past the intersection in town, in front of the old Cooperative Store (known to one and all though as "Bummer's") when along came the son of our neighbors three doors down - Joey Gurbal - driving his car and seeing how hard Kate and I were trying to lug this package, he took pity on us, stopped and gave us a ride the rest of the way home.
Thank goodness for that too cause otherwise, we might still be trying to get home carrying that heavy old package!
And now, in my elderly years, I get frequent reminders of that day, that episode in my life, as that knee gets stiff and sore -aching -on me frequently - thanks to my being such a headstrong kid and having to show off a bit with my nice little sled ya know!
I think I may hold the honor too perhaps of being the only kid in the town's history to have hit a car with my sled. Isn't that just "Special" too?