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January 1, 2015

Christmas pasts and memories of tough sledding

By Tom Morrow

In retrospect of Christmases past, when I was young I usually begged for one specific gift to be left under the Christmas tree. Around age 14 it was a sled that would fit my lanky, growing body.

Growing up on the frozen, snowy tundra of Iowa, sleds were great fun. The small 3-foot job I had since I was much younger no longer fit. I needed one at least 6-foot long so my No. 10’s didn’t drag from behind while whizzing down the slag heap of an old abandoned coal mine.

All the kids I hung around with had new sleds befitting their body size — everyone except me. I had to use a small sled my mother had used back in the 1920s. It worked but it was so old and small I was embarrassed to use it. When I say “old,” I mean maybe 20 or 25 years, which to a 14 year-old is ancient.

Come Christmas morning I got a gleaming new sled, but there were two problems: it was a 5-foot job (my feet still hung out from behind) and there wasn’t any snow. It wasn’t a white Christmas.

I had never paid much attention to the weather forecast other than hoping for a snow day from school, but that particular year we hadn’t had any snow.

I remember my new sled quite well; it was Valentine’s Day that year before it ever snowed enough to use the new sled. Less than a month later the frogs were croaking and by the next year I had grown out of using my new sled both physically and socially.

At age 15, I had my eye on Dad’s 1929 Chevrolet. I was still a year away from being old enough to drive, but the dreaming had begun.

The Chevy was 25 years ancient, but it had wheels, a radio and a heater – what more could a freshman high school guy ask for?

— The first time my parents felt I was old enough to see a new year in was 1948. My Dad took me to see a midnight movie: It was Edward Arnold starring in the 1935 production of “Diamond Jim.”
The only thing I remember about the film was two railroad cars crashing together. Since that year I’ve had celebrations where I remember even less, but those are stories for other times – maybe.


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