The Sledge Hammer & the Marshmallow
It was a particularly cold January and being locked up indoors for days at a time was never something I was good at. It was Friday and the beginning of the weekend. A snowstorm had dumped nine inches two days ago. I couldn’t help thinking, “all that snow and no place to go.” Dad had an old Rambler station wagon parked in the driveway and as I looked at it through the frosted windowpane, those nine inches of snow looked like frosting on a cake covering the roof. I thought, “wow, would that make a good toboggan or what?” I called a couple of friends, Bill and Gayle, and explained my idea. We would go to the junkyard and cut the top off an old car and use it for a toboggan at Alpine Park.
We met at Kishwaki Auto Salvage and found an old station wagon with just the right roof design. We borrowed a cutting torch and removed the top. We then welded some 2” black pipe onto the stubs that were once window posts. The pipe would serve as handles as well as protect us from the jagged edges. We put the toboggan from hell on Dad’s Jeep and headed for Alpine Park. Along the way, we passed a Salvation Army outlet and decided to get an old mattress to cover the inside. Once at Alpine, we unloaded the toboggan and carried it to the top of the hill. While at the Salvation Army, Bill called several other friends and they met us at the park. Seven of us piled on and down the hill we went. We coasted farther than anyone had before. We grabbed the rope and began dragging it up the hill. It was very heavy and when we stopped to rest, some other kids said, “if you let us ride it we will pull it to the top.” Now we had 10 riders but the only way we could get everyone on was for each person to lay prone two layers deep. The third time, we got 12 people on all at once.
It was very important to make sure the coast was clear because if we would have hit someone we would have turned them into a grease spot. After several more trips down the hill, the two-day-old snow was packed as hard as ice and the harder the surface, the farther we went. Several yards beyond the foot of the hill, well out of reach of the typical toboggan (was) a bush that everyone tried to hit but could never reach. You notice the word “was” as in past tense. On our last run, we took it out like a sledge hammer on a marshmallow. When we left we gave the toboggan to a group of newcomers that had no idea how difficult it was to drag it all the way up Alpine hill.