What Are Memories Anyway

Author's own picture. Pearl necklace and bracelet.

Image via Wikipedia

Memories are those special treasures we save and collect over the years.   Think of them as tiny grains of sand, collected, compressed, then carefully polished and perfected.  Slowly the grains of sand build, improve, and become a flawlessly alluring pearl.  We keep our pearls safe and secure, tucked away in the vault of our mind.  Frequently pulling them out to admire and view in just the right illuminating environment.  We treasure our pearls, appreciating their smooth perfect texture, and comforting appearance.  Sometimes we even share our pearls of thought, nostalgia, increasing their value by doing so.


This is the time of year when that small town in the mountains of Colorado would place barricades at the top and bottom of 4th st.  One of the steepest streets in town.  Only the resident on that street were allowed to drive down it.  It provided one heck of a sledding hill.  The street usually had a pretty solid base of packed snow, turning to ice on top. 


We would break out the old sleds, wax up the runners, being sure there were no burs to slow it down. After bundling up against the cold, we carried the sled to the top of the hill.  It was a short walk for us, just 2 blocks, but always seemed to take an interminable amount of time to get there.  Once at the top, we sat on the sled, lined up as close to each other as possible, and let her rip.  Racing down the hill as fast as gravity would propel us, screaming, hooting, and generally making as much noise in the process as we could.  Then back again to the top to do all over again.


When we tired of sledding, at the bottom of the street, the town had a large vacant lot.  They had built up an earthen dam all the way around a very large portion of the lot.   The Fire Department would hook up fire hoses to the hydrant, and fill the whole thing with water.  It took some time for it to freeze over, but eventually there was a very nice and large ice skating rink.  It was large enough you could play a game of hockey if you wanted. 


I remember vividly all the towns kids spending every available minute at these two places in the winter.  I learned how to ice skate there, not very well mind you.  There was something comfortable and warming to the soul about the winter fun in our small little town.  There was a fire barrel there to provide heat.  I can only think of a few times when there was no parents around to supervise.  Winter was such a large part of our life’s, that everybody took part in the responsibilities of keeping all of us kids occupied.


Unfortunately, at some point in the early 80’s, someone at the town decided there was too much liability attached to the activities.  From that point on kids were not allowed to sled on the street, and the ice skating rink was never filled again.  It’s sad to think that some silly little word like liability would take away the good wholesome fun of local kids. 


We wonder why our kids get into trouble these days, go figure.

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Kel said...

Thank gawd I left town before the 80's. We were free to bump our heads, and skin our knees, and learn to deal with those things, and with those fellows that might have been responsible for initiating the ice-top collisions ~ realizing that accidents happen sometimes, and ligtigation is not a response required, not a civilized response.

We had four pairs of skates that held pride of place in the tack room on the wall next to the saddles. All hand-me-downs. Each of us had about one winter at a time, in each pair, when one of the pairs of skates actually fit right.

The winters bracketing those "fit good" winters we either wore as many pairs of socks as necessary to get a close-enough-to-at-least-wobble-on-the-ice fit, or put up with frozen-stiff toes due to wearing inadequate layers in too-tight skates so we could still go skating.

I remember many good years of sledding too, in quite a variety of store-bought sleds (generally Christmas presents), as well as quite a variety of creative "sled" constructions (pre-Christmas) drummed up out of odds and ends of materials from various garages, pastures, and back yards.

I remember "ice hockey" games played with ice chunks or rocks, and sticks/branches, and every once in a while someone would get a hockey stick and puck set for Christmas and we'd have a town "star" on the ice for awhile ~ automatic most popular kid.

I love winter, we don't have "winter" out here. We get rain, and green grass, and oranges of all things. 20+ plus years I've been out here now and I still feel misplaced in winter, without snow, frost, ice, mile after mile of glittering fields of rolling drifts of snow beneath skies so blue it was almost painful ~ the sharpness of it, with the knife-edged bite of 30 below zero air seizing the breath in your throat. Feeling so alive because the cold was so deadly and yet we faced it down, day after day. So beautiful the moutains, dressed in white.

I think I need a trip home.

Eric S. said...

Kel, hey sis I do think you may need a winter trip home. I remember the odd sleds, like trash can lids that we tore the handles off of so the would slide. I think one time we even got one of the 55 gallon drum lids, and Dad beat the center with a sledge hammer until it was concave. It made a wonderful sled.

Yes I remember the skates that didn't fit. But we always made them work.

I Ponder said...

Don't forget tobaggans from torn cardboard boxes ;) Kids aren't allowed to be kids anymore which is very sad. I enjoyed Memories very much :)

Martha Marshall said...

Thanks for sharing this great collection of memories, Eric. They really take me back to simpler times. Keep on writing your great stories. The world needs to hear them.

Shadow said...

that sledding memory's the best! i'd like to be able to hear our kids memories one day, for as surely as they can't do the things we used to, they have their own memories to make and create. i wonder what they'll be...

confused said...

:)) Ponder stole my thunder sliders made out of card board boxes..:)))

Jena Isle said...

It is a similar story with our river here. The children are no longer free to swim as now it is dirty. They won't be able to experience what we had when we were young and used to bathe and swim in its clear waters. Perhaps that is the price of the so called civilization.

Nostalgic post, and well written. Happy blogging.

maggie's mind said...

We had a couple of places like that where I as growing up in the suburbs of Chicago. I'm not sure what it's like there now, though. It's unfortunate that people are so sue happy that others have to be so concerned about liability. I think that's part of what is different now. Even playgrounds are nothing like the ones I had growing up. Everything is so much "safer."

LceeL said...

The result, no doubt and no less, of living in a litigious society. And that's really too bad.

Pearl said...

Ah. You're making me nostalgic. :-)

Sandee (Comedy +) said...

What a wonderful memory this is too. What a shame that government sticks its nose into family fun. Yep, what a shame. Have a great day. :)

Eric S. said...

@ I Ponder, yep, cardboard, or that heavy plastic sheeting they used to use for god only know what. It is sad that kids can't have some of the experiences we did.

@ Martha Marshal, Thank you very much. I write a few every once in a while.

@ Shadow, that would be neat. hear how they envision the memories of their childhood. I wonder if they would be as full of fun and intrigue as mine are.

@ Confused, LOL, you know the simplest ones were always the best.

@ Jena, I think it may be the price of larger and larger populations. It is sad they can't have the same kind of fun we did. Thanks.

@ Maggies Mind, your right, the legal environment we live gives pause to ponder. Of course the juries that are appointed can change that by making better judgments. Have you ever heard Bucky Covington's A Different World.

@ Lou, I agree 100 percent.

@ Pearl, that was the intention, LOL.

@ Sandy, Thanks, your right, they need to keep their nose out of the simple stuff.

Mike Foster said...

That's a great, nostalgic tale, Eric, one that had me right there on that sled with you, way back in the day. Too bad times always seem to change...


Denver Cereal said...

Boy today is a day for sledding. Yes, the liability hounds of hell... sigh... There's still quite a bit of sledding at the hill by the Natural History museum here in Denver. Thank God! :)

Claudia from Denver Cereal

tashabud said...

Hi Eric,
Thanks for sharing your wonderful memories of your childhood. I very much enjoyed reading them.

I hope my kids will always remember our annual trek up in the mountains to get our Christmas tree every first Saturday of December.

We make it a day while there. After we cut our trees, the kids usually go sledding until we eat the chili that my brother-in-law brought from home is warmed up. We top it with some shredded cheese and some chili fritos. We usually have some hot apple cider and some hot cocoa to drink with that. After lunch, the kids go back sledding until we're packed and ready to leave.


June Saville said...

Ah liability - you suffer it too!
How often do we throw the baby out with the bath water? We make a rule to fix an issue and spoil so much else in the doing.
Your sledding brought back memories for me. If I was brave enough to climb the fence at the back of our yard there was a patch of bush where natural Australian wonders lay and trees were there to be climbed. My father was one who protected his daughters from physical harm by banning them from doing anything that was remotely dangerous ... It was our challenge to do them anyway.

Phoenix said...

beautiful post :)

Phoenix said...

beautiful post :)

redchair said...

You paint pictures with words, Eric. I love the analogy to pearls. I learned to ice skate just like that also.

And unfortunately you’re so right. I have so many wonderful memories as a kid. It’s a different world today. The social and litigation fears have created immeasurable damage to just being a kid.

But how do we fix that or can we?

Summer said...

Great story, Eric. I loved playing in the snow and ice as a kid. I'd stay outside until my hands were frozen and my lips were blue. Mom would put all our winter gear in the dryer while we drank our hot chocolate, and then we'd go back at it again.

I think any kid, that doesn't get to have outdoor memories like these, is truly being cheated! Liability is word that sucks the fun out of any situation, huh?

Kanani said...

Nice remembrance!

There's a saying that if you get the kid OUT, then he'll act inwardly and find his compass. If you keep the kid IN, then he'll act OUT trying to find it in a negative way.

What a sad thing!

LarryG said...

that's a lovely memory!

sledding is da bomb!

forsythia said...

We sledded our butts off in NW Pennsylvania, where winter came early and stayed late. I wonder how we can get out ourselves out of the legal liability corner we've painted ourselves into. . . the kids are suffering, and growing fat on video games.

Eric S. said...

@ Mike, Thanks I hope you had fun sledding with me, LOL.

@ Denver Cereal, I bet there is some great sledding there. I remember that hill by the Natural History Museum. I think we only got to go down there, on field trips, after all the snow was gone. We still had fun playing on the hill, even though there was no snow.

@ Tasha, I love your Christmas tradition. I'm sure your kids will cherish it as a favored memory. I know I remember all our trips out for Christmas tree with Dad.

@ June, your so right. Some times I think people act in haste without realizing how it will affect things in the long run.

I bet you kept your father on his toes.

@ Phoenix, Thanks.

@ Vikki, Thank you so much. I think it was a sign of the times, learning to skate with hand me down skates. They never really fit right, LOL.

Sometimes I think we would be better off with out some of the layers interpreting the laws and deciding "what is safe" liability wise.

@ Summer, Thank you, that sounds like a fun time. I can remember coming home to nice hot Coco, and then right back out again. I think we spent our entire childhood outside.

Yes indeed, there is no fun in liability.

@ Kanani, I like that saying, perhaps we should create a movement to let the kids out, LOL.

@ Larry G. Thanks

@ Forsythia, Your right of course, the kids are suffering. Our society has become so safety oriented, it takes away many opportunities for the kids to learn and experience the way we did. I bet you had fun as kids in Pa.

soulMerlin said...

I agree so much. "liability" is such a money word....therefore, over in the UK at least, the word "sorry" is now never used, as it accepts "liability"....therefore the phrase "lessons to be learnt" is used instead, as it sounds sincere and intelligent...without using the word "sorry"...."lessons to be learnt" (yuk) is foolproof legally.

(excuse me whilst I retire and Vomit)


ps: Great post...nostalgic and descriptive


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