100% Norsky which means I should have a genetic disposition for seafood, hard work and winter sports.
Perhaps a DNA check is in order because I really don’t care for any of those things..except for maybe shrimp if it’s breaded or part of a Chinese stir-fry.
I also don’t ski.
Not a lot of slopey terrain to hone one’s skills in the flat part of South Dakota where I grew up. Oh, we did have Bertelsen’s Hill; Bertelsen’s “bump” really. It’s located about a quarter mile South of our house and is part of the golf course now, I believe.
Anyway, I think about Bertelsen’s Hill every time I see “It’s a Wonderful Life.” In the opening winter scene where George Bailey, and his kid pals are sliding down a hill on scoop shovels turned around backwards. George’s little brother, Harry, slips down the slope a little too fast and ends up sailing past the ice and into some frigid open water. Harry is saved by George but the rescue cost him the hearing in one ear.
Bertelsen’s Hill also had a little creek (we may have called it “crick”) at the bottom but I don’t ever recall the “Lund brothers” family sled (one for all three boys to share) mustering up enough momentum to carry us far enough to reach the ice; and it was always ICE..no open water to swallow up little kids..some of whom had gotten saucers for Christmas. I think we were the first generation to experience those metal death discs which gave the rider zero control; just a hunk of meat spinning around in circles accelerating all the way. The aluminum on those things was so soft it became more dented with each run-in with a frozen cow pie.
I was pretty proficient at one form of skiing, however; skiing cars.
Unfortunately, I don’t think this form of small town entertainment registers with many geezers my age who refuse to admit or simply can’t recall this bit of bravado carried out by boys in the fifties and sixties as a means of transportation and exciting yet dangerous fun.
Linda, who grew up in little Alcester, doesn’t remember any of the local boys grabbing onto the bumpers of slow-moving cars and skiing along the snow covered slippery streets like a water skier..only really close to the boat.
Maybe this was a local phenomenon..but nearly every male child in Volga wouldn’t hesitate to risk life and limb by running out onto the road and grabbing the bumper of some unsuspecting driver to sneak a free ride.
We never gave a thought to the possibility that a quick stop might send us scooting under the vehicle to be run over by the back wheels.
Nah, we skied cars just like Marty Mcfly did with his skateboard in “Back to the Future” only we had to rely on icy roadways and the soles of our shoes for success. Volga didn’t have trucks that drove around sprinkling salt on the streets after every snowfall, so they remained pretty slick until the temperatures got high enough for natural melting.
One of our easiest targets was Pal Evenson. He was an old guy who earned a living delivering coal to homes and business places pulling a trailer with his little grey Ford tractor. The coal business really tapered off by the 60’s but Pal held onto that tractor and used it for his only means of transportation summer AND winter. He lived about a block from our house and could be counted on for transportation downtown about the same time every evening. Dixon Hoberg, Bernie Nissen and I would wait for Pal to come out of his house heading for the pool hall. As soon as he took off on that tractor, we’d run up behind and grab the tow bar. We’d like to believe he never knew we were back there but in retrospect he probably was well aware and glad for the clandestine company.
Once we got on Main Street..a bunch of us boys would wait for cars to back out of Tupper’s Drug Store..latch on to their bumper, skid around town inhaling noxious carbon monoxide exhaust fumes and laughing about how we’d pulled off the crime of the century with no one the wiser.
I think my mom caught on, though, when she wondered aloud how I could be going through the soles of my new shoes so fast.
Ah, youth. You couldn’t ski cars these days. None of them have bumpers anymore. Plus, kids today have been weaned on parental worry and likely would never attempt such a stunt.
But, I’m glad we did it and really glad we didn’t get killed in the process.
UPDATE: My cataract surgery went so well and improved my vision so much that I’m having the other eye done on February 8th.