Winter, in the 1940s and 1950s, was not always an easy time for the Scheckel family our 238 acre farm outside of Seneca in Crawford County. Walk one mile to home from Oak Grove School, change into farm clothes, and out to do the chores.
Gather eggs, carry water and slop to the hogs, feed and water for the chickens, pitch hay down the chutes for the cattle, feed and water the horses, tend to the younger livestock, and bring in firewood. And that was before supper. After supper (dinner to you city people) it was out again to milk the cows.
One winter we got a real good piece of luck. I wrote about this beneficial treasure in the book Seneca Seasons: A Farm Boy Remembers. It snowed about six inches in early January, 1952. A few days later, an ice storm moved in from the West. The sleet formed a hard crust atop the snow. The hard crust was slick and fast. Our feet would not break through the ice crust. We had unbelievable sleigh riding conditions the rest of the winter.
We would go out into the fields after evening chores. With the moon high overhead, the countryside glistened white. The moon was so bright off the reflecting snow, we could read a book outside at night.
Phillip, Bob, and I took long rides over the farmland that winter. I was 12 years old. We never had such great sledding conditions, and we never had them again in all the years I lived on the farm. That winter was unique with several inches of snow, followed by sleet, and very little snowfall for several months.
We went up and down those hills for hours at a time, sledding over the hibernating fields. The friction between sled runners and the glare ice was almost non-existent. It was so smooth and glossy that we had some difficulty getting back up the hills, pulling our sleds behind us.
Back up on top of the hill we would fold the rope lengthwise across the sled platform, grab the sides of the sled, give a run, go belly-slamming on the sled, and yell “Geronimo” and away we would go, making big swoops across the ice surface, daring to run into each other, pulling up side by side. Oh, we couldn’t believe our good luck! What did we do to deserve such great sledding conditions?
Memories of that 1952 winter linger with me still. Phillip is a year older than me. Bob was a year younger. It would be so grand to relive those times sledding across the gleaming white frozen fields on Oak Grove Ridge.