Ice Skating and Sleigh Riding

Ice skating for the most part took place on the lake at Ferry Point farm.  This was a fairly shallow lake and would freeze over relatively quickly.  Now the winters in the ’40s and ’50s seemed to be much colder than we have now and you could count on two or three weeks of good ice skating almost every winter.  In the mid 1940s Sonny Chapman and Crip Willoughby were out in their Model T truck with a rider on board that noticed the fire flowing through the exhaust pipe visible through the wooden floor boards.  Seems they were going ice skating, but did not want a certain young rider to go so he was left with his grandmother, Mrs. Novella Chapman.  Off they went and in the process Sonny ventured out onto the ice, fell through and had a really hard time getting back to shore.  When they got him home he was put into the bathtub with warm water to help thaw him out.  This writer remembers looking at him in that tub and saying, “See if you had taken me you might not have fallen in”.  However, knowing this person he would have most likely been right out there with Sonny thus two would have been in trouble, not just one.

Sleigh riding was another winter event which took place at Everets on Russell’s Hill. The house is still there and the hill just a little shorter now with the dam in place at Reid’s Ferry.  As you stood in front of this house and looked down toward the Wagner/Martin’s store on the edge of the creek it was awesome.  We likened it to the down hill jumpers except at the bottom of this run were a variety of cypress knees standing about twelve inches tall as guards in the marshy area ultimately to keep you out of the creek.  The nominal sleigh of that day had a metal frame and part of that frame extended in a semi circle around the front just forward of your foot controls (not very responsive to quick turns).  Virtually every sleigh had significant bends in those semi circle frames from making contact with a cypress knee. If your speed was too fast when hitting the cypress knees it was like a catapult launching a dead weight into space.  There were moguls (bumps) along the way which made it more fun.  A car hood would hold three or four members for the ride of your life down this hill but it was just a little more difficult to get it back up to the top.  On one occasion Lynn Kirk was making her way down the hill, hit a mogul, slid off the sleigh on her face and drew blood.  Seems that her savior was close by and after helping her up escorted her to the Russell house for a clean up and some minor doctoring by Mrs. Emma Russsell.  She returned after some hot chocolate and made many more trips down this hill as we all did.  What a great place to play and really have fun for kids and adults!