The Sled

‘It was a simpler life, then’. At least it seemed to be. My contemporaries generally agree. “Life was so much simpler, then’ is a common refrain.

Take our recent midwinter storm, more than a foot of snow blanketing the area, more along Ontario’s lakeshore communities. Area wide schools closed and thousands of kids are home.

Oh, my, what to do? No school and big snow.

In today’s frenetic world with many dual income households, ‘what to do’ (with a weekday full of kids) can be a challenge. But, back in the day, ‘life was simpler’. In my blue collar, working class neighborhood, one parent was always home, the mom, so supervision and care was not an issue. Thus, a ‘snow day’ likely meant hours of outdoor physical activity for us kids, work followed by play. Limited options. ‘Life was simpler, then’.

A shovel was the tool for work and a sled, the gear for play. The big name in sleds, then, was the ‘Flexible Flyer’, a top tier piece of equipment. I never rode one, too expensive for my dad’s seasonal wallet.

But my sled had a name that made it sound fast, ‘Arrow’. Narrow boards with a simple steering mechanism atop steel runners, and a rope to pull it up hills, time after time, hour after hour of fun. ‘Life was simpler, then!’

Lying on our bellies, head first and looking up, we felt like we’d been shot from a cannon after a running start, sliding over bumps, humps and jumps, aiming at them for more thrills and spills. Steering allowed for slight movement left or right, helpful when heading for trees, or parked cars as the fun often took place on neighborhood streets.

I’m seeing every action packed moment now as I look back through my rose colored glasses. On hard packed snow, the rides were long, fast and exhilarating.

We’d take turns posting at intersections to watch for cross traffic, then fly to the bottom after the all clear signal, whooping and hollering along the way. Our young legs were never too tired to trudge up the hill for run after run after run.

No school, no problem. There was plenty to do, especially with a big snow, a dose of enthusiasm and a sled.

The wooden sleds eventually gave way to lighter, faster and more durable plastic models. Things change. But one constant will always be the same, the memories made playing outside on cold, snowy days when school was canceled and ‘life was simpler’

Steve (Feb 2020)

Find more stories on my blog, ‘S’amusing‘ at ‘’

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Retired in 2013 after 5 years as an elementary school teacher and 40 years as a sales representative to begin anew as a school crossing guard. SMy essays/stories are a way to communicate through the telling of personal experiences. One reader said about my blog stories, "...these are like a cold sip during a marathon run, simple, real life events". Another offered about my blog, “it brings some sense of normalcy not easily found in the modern world.”