Today I was driving on Chandler Park Drive heading for an appointment, and stopped for a moment to watch as children and adults were sledding down Balduck Hill. The same hill I took my first sled ride in the 1950s with my dad! I remember I was about six years old and my cousins had told me how much fun they had when had gone sledding. I asked my dad to take my brother and me. He bought a sled at the local hardware store and packed my mom, bundled my brother and me into our Hudson and drove to the Balduck Hill. I could hardly wait to get out of the car and begin an adventure like my cousins had experienced.
Half way up the hill, I recall having second thoughts. I watched as kids and adults flew down that steep, snow covered, at what appeared to me to be, mountain. I trudged behind my dad to the top of the hill, not wanting to admit that I was terrified. My dad, sensing my fear, told me that he would be in back of me and that I only had to go down the hill once, and if I was still afraid that I wouldn’t have go down again.
I remember sitting on that sled with my dad in back of me, shutting my eyes, praying, opening my eyes half way down watching a blur of kids and adults on either side of us whizzing by. When you’re six, every moment can seem like an hour. I clearly remember asking my Guardian Angel to protect my dad and me. I also remember hitting some small bumps in the snowy pathway and I was sure we were going to die. My six year old heart was racing so fast I thought that Paradise was imminent. Finally, after what seemed to be a lifetime, the sled slowed and finally came to a stop. My dad and I got off the sled and as we walked through the snow to the parking lot where my brother and mom were waiting he said, “That was fun, wasn’t it?” I looked around at the other children who were laughing and heading back up the hill to go down again and said, “Yes, it was fun!” My dad asked if I wanted to back up the hill and come down again before he took my brother. Trying to keep the terror off my face, I shook my head no and let my brother have my turn. And every other turn the rest of the day. It was a full year before I gathered enough courage to sled down that hill again.
As I was driving away today, I had to laugh. The hill that I thought was a mountain when I was six, isn’t steep at all.
But when you’re six, the whole world is bigger than life!
Where did you go sledding? Were you afraid your first time down the hill?