Tobogganing. It can be a lot of fun.

"My dad has always taught me these words: care and share. That's why we put on clinics. The only thing I can do is try to give back. If it works, it works."

Tiger Woods

Tobogganing, now called Bobsledding. The word conjures up memories of colorful, sleek, racing machines, speeding at breakneck speed down a high-banked icy bobsled run. The team members pushing for all their might to get it started, and disappearing inside like peas in a pod in reverse. Timers splitting a second into hundreds of parts.

Irma and I are old enough to remember another kind of tobogganing. Ours took place back when we were youngsters. Before television came along to take the fun out of it. This was before we had met. Before computers, cell phones, wifi, satellites, space shuttles and battery watches. Because we grew up in different Provinces in Canada I will tell you how we tobogganed when I was young.

We lived near a large field that once was covered with trees. At the top was a small pond with a very small creek flowing in and out of it. It was up on a hill. The ground was very uneven and some small stumps were still in the ground from the trees being cut down.

Once the winter set in the water would flow down the hill, winding it’s way among the stumps. Slowly but surely the entire hill would be one gigantic hill of ice. The small hills were still there as well as the stumps but now there was more ice than obstructions.

We boys would soon get the idea to build a toboggan. It would start because we would have been spending hours skating down the hill we now called The Stumps. After school and on weekends that’s where we would be until it was so dark it was dangerous.

The first item we needed was a good long and wide plank. The search would go out. The contractor who lived a block away built churches and large buildings and we could usually find the perfect plank and it would somehow appear in our backyard. Next we would need two bobsleds. These were solidly built sleds, about 4 inches high, three feet long with solid sides. Steel runners encased the sides.

We drilled a hole in the front of the plank and a matching one in the front sled. A piece of wood would be fastened to the front sled for steering. A piece of rope was attached to it for steering with the hands. The back sled was fastened solidly to the plank. Presto we were ready for The Stumps.

Our little group soon found our way to the hill. The toboggan was set down, everyone climbed aboard and away we would go with all of the yelling we could do. The trick was to find a good way down between the stumps without wrecking the bobsled or killing anyone on a stump. It was amazing that none of us was ever killed or badly injured. One casualty I remember was one of the boys was hit and sent flying by a speeding toboggan. He had a slight concussion and eventually one of his eyes was crossed. It remained that way for years.

The Stumps gave us a course of almost a half mile in length. If you picked the right line through the stumps and hills you could make it all the way to the bottom. Of course the idea was that all of the groups who had toboggans competed to see who could make it down the farthest.

In those years we seemed to get a lot more snow and ice than we do now. The town we lived in had an old snowplow. It could only get the blade down to about six inches from the ground which was unpaved. When the weather changed and we had a little rain and then a freeze we were in for a great treat. We had a street near The Stumps. It was at least a mile in length. When it was coated with ice on top of snow it made for a fantastic tobogganing venue. Cars or trucks couldn’t get up so we had the place to ourselves. The whooping and laughing still lie deep in my memory bank from those wonderfully amazing runs.

Irma grew up on a farm. They too had a huge hill and the boys did the same thing we did. We both feel sorry for the young folk today who may think the only kind of a sled is a bobsled with fancy racing colors. They don’t know what they are missing.

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