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Friday, 15 February 2013

The Sledding Hill

By Susan Gulliford of Hillsborough NJ Journal

Every adult who grew up anywhere that had the slightest bit of snowfall remembers the definitive sledding hill of their youth.

Mine was at the end of my block; a curving slope that ended on the next street up.

We all took our sleds - wood with metal runners - to the top of the hill for the run down. There was a rumor that soaping your runners made for a faster run but I never remember testing that theory as my mother wouldn't "waste" soap for such an endeavor.

There were about thirteen boys and two girls in our gang. One of the girls had blonde Shirley Temple curls and always boasted that she had once won a baby beauty contest down the shore.

Her mother claimed that we picked on her when we were sledding so whenever she was there, her mother would stand at the bottom of the hill guarding her daughter.

I don't remember having to stop for cars but they must have been there at least when our fathers came home from work.

We sledded until it was so dark that the streetlights went on and our mothers began to yell for us to go home. Our wool coats and leggings with zippers on the bottom would be soaked, our mittens hanging off our mitten clips and clots of snow embedded around our wrists.

The metal fasteners on the front of your galoshes would be encrusted with frozen snow. If your nose began to run you wiped it off on your rough cold wet sleeve. The style of your sledding outfit could depend on whether your older siblings were boys or girls.

When you finally got home and leaned your sled against the house, you undressed just inside the kitchen door so you didn't melt all over the house and the smell of wet wool pervaded the kitchen. Your face and your hands were red from the cold and droplets ran off your eyelashes and your mother brought an old towel for you to wipe off your wet fringe of hair.

A few years ago, in the spring, I happen to be near the town where I grew up. I made it a point to ride through my old neighborhood and took a picture of the sledding hill.

Sledding Gulliford

The hill was a lot bigger when I was sledding on it - way longer and a lot steeper. Honest. Or maybe it just looks different when it is covered with snow.

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Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Love your descriptions Susan. While I didn't sled, I experienced all the rest, the clothes, the drips, etc.
I can smell the wet wool as I'm typing this. And yes, the hill was much bigger when you were much smaller. It's the law of growing up.

Wonderful! It took me back to a very similar place and time. Thank you.

What fun to join you as a child having winter fun outdoors. My winter fun in Mich. now is WATCHING the neighborhood children sledding down the hill onto and across our driveway into the wooded area beyond, stopping before they hit a tree. They build a snow-made jump 1/2 way down to provide extra excitement. Parents and grandparents come with the little ones to be sure they make it to the bottom, and be sure there is no traffic when they cross the driveway. I suspect they may be remembering their escapades in the snow as a child.
After the last big lake affect snow the hill was decorated with snow caves and snowmen on both sides of the run.
It is a real privilege to share our space helping young children make new memories.
Thank you for sharing yours.

There was a wonderful sledding hill in our neighborhood, with a bump in the middle and a spring surrounded by a blackberry thicket at the bottom. The trick was to fly over the bump and reach bottom without plowing into the icy water or the "sticker bushes."

Glenwood Park hill. WOW! I still have scars on my knuckles from the tumbles. There was a shrub in the middle half way down. If you went around it on the right, you'd be headed into a main street of traffic. If you went around on the left, you'd be headed into the trees. If you took too long to decide you'd run into the shrub. We bent the rudders on a lot of sleds.

Thanks Susan.

I have not thought of this subject in years, but your wonderful description brought it all back. I am from New England and our hill was in Cabot Woods. I am sure if I went back now, and it wasn't a housing development, it would be half the size I remember.
Your description of the clothes and the having to take off all those clothes in the mud room before your Mom would let you in the house brought a smile to my face. Thank you!

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