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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What the heck??

I don't remember hearing anything like this growing up - not once ... - New York Girl, 13, Dies in Snow-Tubing Crash Into Tree - Local News News Articles National News US News:
"A 13-year-old girl has died after a snow-tubing accident on a golf course north of New York City.
Police in Rockland County say the teenager died Monday after sliding down a hill in Haverstraw and hitting her head on a tree.
Paramedics treated her at the scene and took her to a hospital in Suffern, but doctors couldn't save her."
are they just making trees harder than they used to? what the heck?

you know this means that more kids will be wearing helmets when they go down those slopes ... geez. We used to slide down Tower Hill when I was a kid ... that thing was steeper than 45* I swear ... it was really really steep ... it was covered with trees, but that wasn't the biggest worry -- the biggest worry was that the street below would be clear when you started and then some car would come around the corner as you were going down and you wouldn't be able to slow down enough to stop yourself from launching into the road.

It used to be a 'safe' road with very little traffic because it went right in front of the grade school (Sidney Pratt with its sandstone steps - I can picture it so well) so the only real cars that used the street belonged to teachers or residents - both of whom knew enough to check the hill before pulling near the school, residents tried their best to avoid using that particular stretch of road all together.

But somewhere in the 70's people discovered that they could avoid the traffic gong up University Avenue to I-94 by taking the side streets to the secondary artery to the highway ... and there went the peace in the neighborhood.

Suddenly kids had to start looking before crossing the street ... the original roads in the old neighborhood I swear were set up based on the natural water flow come Spring during the melts and rains ... I don't remember us having any huge road floods, or icy roads, we had only a few actual 'squared' corners to our streets ... we had some that were so slightly curved that unless you knew the neighborhood you would never even realize you changed roads, I swear.

In the late 70's the city had some great plan and changed the corners .... tried squaring them all up ... essentially gave some people these HUGE front yards, that weren't really their's but the people acted like it (and chased the kids off it like it was theirs).

dang -- look I digressed ... or did I?

we used to have a second favorite sledding spot ... it was a side street with very very little traffic ... it was a semi-dead end, that is the road curved at the bottom and led to the end of another road so it didn't really go anywhere ... in fact as I found out later, it was where the city used to pile the snow from plowing the streets, but it had this steep incline to it and in the winter the sidewalk would get a lovely coating of ice.

back before city ordinances that required clean sidewalks, back when people did it just because that is what you are supposed to do, back when you knew your neighbor, like them or not, and if they were elderly you would shovel the walk for them - because it was the right thing to do .... but shoveled walks make great places for the water to run when the sun was strong but the wind was cold - it would make a wonderfully thin layer of ice across the sidewalks.

then the sleds would suddenly show up ... usually during the weekdays that we had off of school but we knew the old cranky folks were at work (i.e. dads) then a small group of us would meet at the top of the hill and set up a plan of attack ...

going down was easy, it was coming back that was the issue. We dubbed it 'suicide hill' not because anyone got hurt there, but because once you got going down there was no way to stop -- especially if you were racing down it in the summertime on your bikes, playing a form of 'chicken' with that bottom curve.

coming back up the hill was another issue ... we didn't want to walk on people's lawns - well for two reasons, first because we knew if our folks heard about it we were going to get a tanning, and second because it just isn't what you'd do. So we would have to 'mountain goat' it ...

you remember 'mountain goating'? where you would walk across the big piles of snow left along the bolevards by the snow plows as they actually got curb to curb? Oh that was a lovely thing -- your head would be 7 to 8 foot in the air, you were taller than any father in the neighborhood ... sometimes someone would lose a boot while walking, it having gotten stuck in a soft spot on the mountain ... then the friend behind would be nice enough to pull it out for them without falling off and the friend in front would be nice enough to stand still so you could use them for support while you got your boot back on.

aw winter memories -- do you remember using bread bags as boot liners so your socks wouldn't get wet, only to find that they were usually the reason your boots slid off in the snow mountains?

Snow pants - we didn't have snow pants, we had full coverall snowmobile suits ... so if your zipper broke or got stuck you had to go thru the day wearing it and hoping you didn't have to potty until you got home. I only got in trouble with this once, on a field trip to some nature center ... my zipper got stuck and the student teacher wouldn't let me in the 'classroom' and wasn't listening to the reason why I was late even though I had the jacket part pushed as far down as it would go. Oh if only I knew the words then that I know now -- I would have been suspended ... or expelled ... no one every really tried cussing out a teacher in those days ... so who knows what would have happened.

but we never heard of anyone who got hurt sledding ... at least not until they put up the concrete sound barriers along the freeway (I still feel sorry for the people who live in those houses ... I'd rather watch traffic than look at a concrete wall) ... see down on the end of Suicide hill there was also an old sledding hill, and the home owner would let the kids use it when my brothers were growing up and they said she would have pitchers of cocoa waiting for them when they were done ... her kids were all grown up and she missed the sights and sounds of kids having fun on her hill.

then the state came and put I94 thru below and a fence went up at the bottom of the hill ... I guess during the first season nothing happened but somewhere along the way someone lost control and ran into the fencing ... this put a number of parents in the neighborhood in a tizzy and she had to stop letting the kids do it -- such a shame too, man that was a lovely hill.

I remember the flat plastic sleds with the cut-outs for hand holds -- they were very flexible, to the point to where you could roll them up and carry them to the hills. We made a binder for it out of some of ma's elastic to keep it under control (so it wouldn't open on the way to/from Tower Hill as we were mountain goating) and they were slick as snot - oh man were they fast! My oldest brothers can remember using cardboard & shovels for sliding, but I remember those thin peices of plastic.

Now I look at the kids on the hills -- with their helmets, their goggles (our son wears goggles but that's due to an eye injury), and the over protective parents who make sure there is no one else on the slope before allowing their kids to go .... and I hear stories like the one about this poor girl ... and I wonder....

how the hell did we survive our childhood???

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