Or is it sledding? One can slide on anything – a toboggan, a board, a piece of cardboard, even a sled. But the only way you can go sledding is to slide on a sled. It’s like…..a square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not a square. In any case, we called it sliding even though most of our sliding was done on sleds.
A block away from our house on Pleasant View, behind the Lutheran Church, was Campbell’s Hill, the highest and steepest hill on our side of town, with a good outrun into a shallower sloped field at its base. Campbell’s Hill had been a sliding hill for several generations of DeForest kids. My dad had an eight inch scar on his leg from an encounter with a barb wire fence while sliding on Campbell’s Hill as a teenager. You could get a long, speedy ride down “the Hill”, but the downside, of course, was a long walk back up to the top.
As seven or eight year olds we were kept pretty much off “the Hill” because it required us to cross one of the main streets in the village. And, since our back yard was considerably lower than the front and side yards, with a steep slope on the east side of the house, we could get our sliding thrills there. It was a shorter run, but with a higher frequency. Quantity over quality was the order of the day.
The contest was to see who could go the farthest. Once the snow was packed we could go down the hill, kitty corner across the back yard and into the back yard of the neighbor’s behind us. It was…back up toward the front yard, run as fast as we could holding the sled in front of us, then belly-flop onto the sled just as we reached the crest of the hill.
Howard Abraham, who lived next door and was a year older, held the record for the longest ride off our little hill. It was the day after an ice storm and everything – streets, sidewalks and yards – was covered with ice. Howard hit the crest of the hill, flopped down on his sled and was off. Down the hill he went, across the back yard, into the Johnson’s back yard to their driveway, down the driveway into the street and across towards the Farness and Johnson grocery store. He had the misfortune at that point to meet a car whose driver was having difficulty navigating the icy streets and the collision sent Howard to the hospital with a broken leg. But…his record for the longest ride was never broken.