The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

Big Chuck

December 2, 2013

There's no tough sledding when you're a youngster|

Winter weather is here. And so are outdoor winter activities.

I’ve reconciled myself to the fact that I am too old for many strenuous outdoor activities. Too tall to strap on a pair of ice skates. Too heavy to snowshoe. Too lazy to snowmobile and to cheap to ski.

But I do like a nice stroll around the neighborhood on a mild snowy evening. Does that count?

My favorite thing to do when I was a kid was sledding. I was lucky in that I lived just a block from the best sledding hill in my hometown, the one behind the high school. It was straight down, wide open and emptied into a usually very slick parking lot. My friends and I had very few options for sledding apparatus. Our trusty snow steed was a Flexible Flyer we bought at the Western Auto store downtown.

In my day, the sled was a vital part of getting through the cold upstate winters. Mine was long and made out of polished wood slats. The name Flexible Flyer was written down the center in red script under the image of an eagle.

The runners were also red and were very sharp. They eventually always rusted (despite our constantly rubbing them with Ivory soap to make them slicker and faster). When rusty, these runners could offer up a nasty gash to the lackadaisical sledder. Of course, the rust component always meant Mom would drag you to Doc Hust (“just to make sure”).

The crossbar on the front was a brilliant design. By slightly twisting and bending the crossbar you’d achieve remarkable mobility for such a simple object. On a hard-packed surface the steering was much more reliable that that of your father’s old Nash Rambler trying to make it through an unplowed village street.

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Big Chuck

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