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Saturday, January 20, 2018

A Sled Ride to Remember

A Sled Ride Remembered
by Laurean Brooks

In late December when I was eleven, a deep snow fell one night in our rural town. That was unusual for northwest Tennessee. The following morning Mama turned the radio up loud, her usual method to shock us kids out bed. After WCMT played its daily theme song, Everybody's Gonna Have A Wonderful Time Up There, the radio announcer stated in his raspy voice, “There will be no school in Weakley County.”

Five kids raced to the kitchen, eager to eat breakfast, then start playing in the snow. Older brother Ralph tugged on his boots and went out to check the depth of the snow. It reached the tops of his high boots. “Great,” he said. “I've been waiting to try out my latest invention.”

My sister, Jewell, younger brother, Paul, and I glanced at each other dubiously. Ralph's latest invention was a cumbersome sled crafted from heavy rough lumber. It looked more like a pallet than a sled. We'd tried it last winter, but it wouldn't slide on the snow. Ralph explained that was because the snow was too soft.

Ralph tied a rope to the sled and we followed as he dragged it to to the woods and positioned it at the top of the steep hill. A shallow, frozen creek lay at the bottom. After a few attempts at trying to make the sled slide in the soft snow, Ralph turned to us and said, “I've got an idea. Go get the old wringer washer lid out of the well shed. We'll try packing the snow down with it, first.”

We returned with the circular lid from which Daddy had removed the knob to make it slide easily. My sister sat down on it first, and Ralph gave her a shove. It slid only a few feet. But after a half hour or so, the snow was packed from the top of the hill to the creek at the bottom.

Halfway down the slope, the snow-packed trail passed within inches of a stump where a knotty root jutted out. If the circular top swerved off course just a smidgen, our top would strike the root and the rider could become airborne. That could spell disaster. Careful to lean the right way to avoid veering toward the root, we took turns sliding downhill. The washer lid never swerved once from the trail we'd blazed.

Around noon, Ralph's appetite pulled him back to the house for a snack. He was a growing boy at fifteen. When he was out of sight, Jewell said, “Let's try out Ralph's invention.” After dragging it to the crest of the hill, we decided it would fit three people. Our younger brother, Paul, sat up front and tucked his knees under his chin. I took the middle position while Jewell climbed on the back after giving us a shove off. We held on tight as the sled picked up speed.

“Wheeee!”I yelled as the sled zoomed downhill. Then I noticed we were headed for the jutted root. “Hang on tight!” I yelled.

The sled slid over the root, launching the sled into the air. Paul fell off the front and landed face up in the snow. The sled showed no mercy and our brother's fate was out of our hands. Jewell and I held on as the sled bull-dozed its way over Paul trapping him beneath. His anguished face stared up at us between the slats as we raced downhill, I can still hear him pleading, “Stop! Stop!” But Jewell and I could do nothing except hang on for the ride.

I'm ashamed to admit I laughed until I hurt at his horrified face gazing up at us. Finally, the sled landed on the ice-covered creek, slid across it, bursting the ice We climbed off and lifted the sled off Paul, then pulled him out of the icy ankle-deep water. Miraculously, he was not hurt. Cold and wet? Yes. Humiliated? Yes.

“I'm going back to the house,” he wailed, and “I'm never going sledding again!” After a few slips, he made it up the hill and to the warmth of the wood stove inside our house.

This sled ride occurred several decades ago, but many times when our family gathered at the holidays, we recanted the incident and laughed just as hard as we retold it (and probably embellished it).

Paul did not appreciate the retelling, nor did he like the cartoons Jewell and I drew of his tortured face staring up between the slats of the sled. Nevertheless, those childish drawings have become an
intrinsic piece in the scrapbook Jewell and I created.

For a download of my short romance about a man clinging to the past and a woman whose fiance' left her two days before the wedding, click on the link below.

Is a cluster of Jonquils bursting through the snow, a sign of a new beginning for Miranda and Brady?

Jonquils In The Snow  by Laurean Brooks


  1. Laurean, you had an adventurous childhood. I'm eager to read JONQUILS IN THE SNOW.

  2. What a great story. I love jonquils so your book is a must-read. *g*

  3. Caroline Clemmons, thank you for stopping in. Yes, I did have an adventurous childhood. I must say that our mother wasn't the overly protective type. We were allowed to do things our friends' mothers would have been horrified at. For instance, rolling down a steep hill in a barrel. Lol.

  4. Hi Joan, thank you for your gracious comment. Jonquils In The Snow is a short read (about 30 - 40 minutes) that you can take to the doctor's or dentist's office and read while in the waiting room to pass the time. I hope youl like it.

  5. Sounds even worse than my worst sledding adventures in Maine, Laurie! Thanks for a fun read.

    1. Susan, you will have to tell me about your sledding adventures in Main. I can't wait to hear them. LOL

  6. Oh my goodness, if you'd been my kids, I'd have wrung your necks! LOL But kids -- it's a wonder we survived childhood, isn't it? LOL

    Are those your REAL photos from that incident?

  7. Miss Mae, we didn't plan this to go wrong. It just happened. It's a wonder we made it to adulthood. This is only a sample of our daring feats. No. I found these pics online. The sled is a true likeness of the one Ralp built.

  8. I love the sled story - what an adventure. I enjoyed reading Jonquils in the Snow. It's a wonderful story. I like the new cover for it - it's gorgeous.

  9. Thank you for dropping by for a visit, Diane. I'm glad you enjoyed the sledding adventure. Yes, I like the new cover too. It portrays a scene where Miranda is watching the tree service man from her window.


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