A Winter to Remember

Read about how an afternoon of fun was marred by the loss of a cherished gift.

| January 2021

“Population density” isn’t a phrase that is associated with rural America. In metropolitan areas, many people live close together. I’ve read that some skyscrapers in New York City have their own zip code. Out in the country, statistics indicate that farming areas often have as few as one or two people per square mile. The wide-open space between points of human activity means nothing much happens there. Whatever one does in those unoccupied spaces is pretty much up to each individual.

Photo by Clell G. Ballard
Runner sleds can be steered. When the cross bar is pushed one way or the other, the sled runners are warped, allowing them to be steered either way. The rest of the time, the sled glides straight.

In my youth, in a very sparsely settled area, one winter activity that young people liked to try was known as “hooky-bobbing.” In the simplest sense, that was the occasional unlawful grabbing on to the bumper of a slow-moving car in our little town, squatting down and skiing along on our feet on the snow-covered road for a block or so. It was always done after dark and we were never in any danger, since the car we were hooky-bobbing behind was the only one on the street. Of course, our parents didn’t learn what we were doing, because it rarely happened. Most of the time we had to be home after dark.

Photo by Clell G. Ballard
Here we are preparing for the sled ride.

Since our area had long winters with a lot of snow, students in the pre-television era had to entertain themselves as best they could. That usually meant some indoor activity. Outside, one could cross-country ski (certainly a different sort than the modern version), occasionally try downhill skiing (but one had to laboriously climb up the ski slope first) and sledding.

Boys will inevitably be boys

Photo by Clell G. Ballard
Taken from the car’s back window, this photo shows a typical sled ride.


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