Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - December 19, 1970, Lethbridge, Alberta
____ SDlUfday, December 19, 1970 THE IETHBRIDGE HERALD Fraser Hodgson Memories of sleigh rides long ago TVTY wife and I went out (or a short car ride the other afternoon, down Uie Lethbridge coulee hill and across the river, and out in the country a few miles. A bunch of lads were having a whale of a time coast- Ing on one of the coulee hills near the river, and the sight made me remember all the fun I had many years ago, coast- ing down the hills around Swift Current, in good old Saskatch- ewan. I sort of darydreamed as we rode along, and instead of the lulls and kids right beside us, I saw the same tiling a long way back in time. The first sliding hill I can remember started one jump from the back door- step of our old shack. It wasn't very steep and only went a few yards, but to us and some neighbor kids it was good enough to keep us outside most of the winter. It went down across a couple of vacant lots next to our place, and after a few days of cold weather and several applications of used wash water, we made a pretty good slide. Anyway the daily output of tired, hungry, soak- ing-wet kids, was always exact- ly equal to the number using the hill. Most of us got chased out to play to get us from un- derfoot in the house, then we were usually in worse trouble when we came back in, plaster- ed with snow and howling with the cold. -A- I guess the most popular coasting hill in our end of town, WES the creekbank just east of Elmwood school. The creek had crossed to the other side of the valley many years before, and left a high steep bank that was loaded with yelling kids and yapping dogs from the first snow till spring breakup. As it was only half a block from school, we were there before the days drudgery started, dur- ing noon hour, and after four till long after dark. Every fall of the three years I spent at Elmwood, saw a notice on the main bulletin board threaten- ing the most terrifying punish- ment to anyone caught on the hill during recess. This wasn't only because we could never get back into class on time, but when we finally did rush in claiming we didn't hear the bell, it took all of fifteen min- utes for the coughing, blowing, and sniffing to slow down so the teacher could take over. They also went by the theory that it wasn't healthv to sit in class with wet clothes, but we were usually wet anyway from the morning or noon-hour ses- sion. If sitting in damp clothes was going to damage our health we would have been a pretty sickly bunch. I think the main cause of get- ting so wet was the type of sled most of us used. Few could afford a "store-bought" sleigh, so we slid on anything from scraps of cardboard or tin, to mother's new washboiler lid. This meant that the kid and the conveyance seldom arrived at the bottom of the hill togeth- er, so the clothes soon became tlu'ckly stuccoed with dirty wet snow. Some of us had home- made wooden sleds, but these weren't much better to slide on than the scraps we picked up. Several fathers and old- er brothers were handy with carpenter tools, so some pretty fancy handmade creations ap- peared on the hill once in a whife These were often just pa- raded around so the rest of us could envy their good luck, and never used on the hill in case the paint got scratched. -k Several of us worked a week building one out of odd hits of lumber, but it didn't work loo well and wouldn't hang togeth- er anyway. It seemed we couldn't make our crooked nails hold the runners on straight, so they always toed in or out at the front. That didn't matter much on an icy hill, but in deep snow it slowed things down a lot. Imagine taking a run, "beilyflopping" onto your sleigh, and having it stick in the snow while you keep on go- ing. No wonder we got wet and sometimes caught colds. I know we didn't complain about it. or we might have to stay off the lull and clrink quarts of Senna tea to ward off pneu- monia. Do you remember Sen- na tea? It was the most hitter concoction I ever tasted, and a pot of it simmered on the back of the stove all winter. Then when I was about twelve our family finances im- proved a little, and I got a real "store bought" sleigh for Christinas. It had a high steel frame and runners, varnished hardwood slats on top, and the name Hillrunner painted in red on the front steaving bar. That was tlie greatest thing I had ever owned in my life, and it bothered me some to have to share it with my young brother and sister. This started endless fights and arguments about who's turn it was, but. mother ended t h a I discii.ssiiin in a hurry by shutting the sleigh in her bedroom for a week. We soon decided on turns when we saw fighting would just lake the fun away from all of us. The next year my brother and sister, got sleighs of their own, so that left me free to hook up with another kid and build a bobsled. The little hills near home were no fun any- more. Now we went to the cou- lees around the dump grounds, and the long hills coming down from the "bench" south of town. This meant a hole in the top of my beautiful sleigh to hold the connecting board in place, but it was old and scratched now so that didn't bother me loo much. Vie had a little trouble finding a proper board, but finally located one on the CPR snowfence just out of town. I'm sure-the railroad never missed it. The little bit of snow that blew through the hole wouldn't make much dif- ference, and anyway the nails were loose so it might soon have blown off without our help. We chopped the bark off both sides with a hatchet, and cov- ered the rough surface with gunny sacks. I bothered one of the men at (lie shop till he drilled the holes to get rid of us, and he cussed us some more when we got in his way hunt- ing old bolts to fasten the board in place. This bobsleigh idea started with us trying to build a toboggan out of a board and a section of cheesebox. Our ex- periment in building skis was in the same failure class, a vey big flop. I guess we didn't have the technical touch to properly fit the curved box- wood to the boards, or the fin- ishing power to sand and polish the rough surface like those in the hardware store window. They ended up like our home- made sleds, with a tendency to stick and let us go on alone. Our bobsled worked pretty well, and five or six could ride it without doubledecking. Ev- ery evening after school we were on Central Avenue hill, hooking rides behind home- ward bound farmer's sleighs to get up the hill the easy way. Then on Saturday and Sunday afternoon we went to the cou- lees north of town, or to the long hill leading to the "bench" southward. We came home from these trips usually soak- ing wet, and always hungry, tired, and nearly frozen solid. By the next weekend we were ready to go again, as hooking rides up a hill and coasting down was never-ending fun. One nice Sunday afternoon in February Dad suggested we could hook our community sleigh behind his Maxwell for a short spin around town. Mother got her fur coat on and wrap- ped her legs in a robe with a hot rock, arid we had the most wonderful ride of our lives. We yelled at all the kids as they stood watching us speed along, and some tried lo pile on or hook on behind. It was over all too soon, but no amount of groaning or grousing made Dad go any farther; that was all for the day. We talked about it all week no walking or climbing up hills in the snow, just a continuous joyride! We would be all ready for next Sunday afternoon. About Thursday a Sask a t c h- ewan Chinook blew in. I mean the kind that only came along once or twice in a winter, but When they did arrive they real- ly meant it. Sunday morning there wasn't much snow left, and what there was wouldn't hold a sleigh runner out of the mud. But we all wanted to go anyway, so we took turns work- ing on Dad till he got mad and said, "alright come on, I'll give yuh a ride." And did he ever! I made the mistake of tying the rope solid to the car, but by the time I realized thai it was too late, Dad wouldn't stop. The mud flew from the spin- ning back wheels, and the dirty water sprayed us, especially me on the front of the sled. The neighbor kids and my busi- ness partner dropped off and walked home, but my sister and brother and I had to stay with the boat. I think Dad took us farther than the week before knew he figured to give us a ride that would keep us quiet the rest of the winter. When he finally took us home we were plastered with mud and wet through, and everybody got a royal bawling out from Mother. Dad just grinned a little and said, "Well they were bound lo go." My brother and sister had some mud on them, but I was stuccoed and near drowned. They got cleaned up in little while, but I was cleaning my clothes the rest of the week. After that when Dad said we kept quiet and stayed home. if My dav'lream collapsed as we drove back lip the coulee lulls, and I came to reality as I a g a i n saw the kids coasting on the hills. We pulled over on a wide spot and watched for a few minutes. They were having just as much fun us I remem- ber years ago, but something was different it was the mod- ern mode of sliding. Nobody was using pieces of scrap lin or beaverboard, there were no kids on old scoop-shovels or homemade sleds, everything was new and up to date. The main coasting item seemed to be a plastic saucer- shaped dish, about two feet across, with a rolled edge to hang onto, and made in all the colors imaginable. The kids sat in it. cither with their feet curled up underneath, or left sticking out ahead- as they went spinning down the hill in every direction. They collided and fell off in tlie snow the same as we did, so they would get just as wet and cold, and along with the yipping bunch of dogs they made about tlie same amount of noise. Some had shiny toboggans made of bright al- uninum or varnished hard- w o o d, and there was several ordinary-type sleds with fancy plastic windscreens on the front. So I guess about the only difference in fifty years of coasting was the implements between the kids and the snow, and that was most likely be- cause of the available money lo buy sleiglis instead of im- provising. I heard later the plastic saucers were cheap and available in most supermar- kets and drugstores, anu v.'ero ofeln given as premiums. And then we heard the darndest racket coming up Ihe ditch behind us, and I thought right away some nut was nra- ning a lawnmower in the snow. It was one of these newfangled toboggans with a motor on the front. They call them skidons and many other fancy names, and this one was loaded with three teenagers and was pull- ing two more hooked behind on skis. They went flying up the hill, and skiers let go and went down again. Then tlie other two unloaded their plastio saucers and slid down while Ihe skidoo went back down to pick them up. Talk about mod- ern travel, this was the tops. It even had our stunt of catching rides behind a farmer's sleigh beat, but I suppose modern in- ventions should be used to ca- pacity. Yet this seemed to be taking it too far. A few years ago we took a trip back to the old home town, just lo see what litlle changes might have taken place. The main one I noliced was our old coasting lulls had shrank to half the height I remember. The small one by our shack was gone altogether, and the shack was gone as well. Some- one had torn it down, pushed the hill into the hollow, and built a modern-split level home. The steeper one near Ihe school was pretty well gone too, someone had poured a base- ment at the bottom and bull- dozed the crest down around it to make a yard, then buill his house. All Ihe vacant lots along the creek had houses built on them, there wasn't a coasting spot left anywhere. Even the coulee hills west of town had houses or industrial buildings stuck right in the way to spoil a sleighride. Tlie long hill southward looked fairly free of civilization, but it didn't seem near as high or long as when I was a kid. Tin's all proves that old scenes shrink when we have been away a long time. But sleighriding hasn't lost any- thing. Just limes and melhods have changed a little. We went home to our warm living room and turned on the television set, o u r sleighriding was all in memories. What goes up ivitt come down IF Photo by Bryan Wilson. Book Reviews World-city looms on horizon "Cities on the Move" ijy Arnold Toyuhce (Oxford Press, 257 pages, T JRBANIZAT1QN began a long lime ago when Jeri- cho and Lepenski Vir in Yugo- slavia originated in Neolithic times. But the growth of cities has accelerated recently to tlie point where many of them are merging. The world-city now looms on the horizon. Out of his vast store of knowledge, Dr. Arnold Toyu- bee, famed historian, has drawn together material that illuminates why cities have grown where they have; what makes some of them better candidates and competitors for the role of capital; why some are more holy than others (all cities before the presenl age of mechanization have been holy to some and how mechanization has affected Ihem. Half Ihe chapters of this book are devoted to discussion A success and a failure The Prairie Gardener. By II. F. Harp. (Hurtig, Edmon- ton. 302 pages. GARDEN book must be (a) relevant io the audi- ence, and (b) properly struc- tured. This book succeeds on the first count, fails on the second. The author is Ihe CBC's "Prai- rie Gardener." He has written the program since J9tjl, and since the death of (he pro- gram's George Sccord, a few months ago, he has spo- ken it as well. lie was a pro- fessional gardener first in Eng- land, since 1927 in Canada. In 1933 he went to the Morden (Manitoba) Experimental Farm and from 19J7 until rctimmcr.t last year he was head garden- er there. He now lives in Ed- monton, where Ihe CBC pro- gram originates. There is no doubt thai he is an outstanding garden author- ity for the very special and pe- culiar prairie conditions. A book written for English or Nova Sco- tian or Ontario conditions can be most misleading for prairie gardeners. Mr. Harp's advice is good, and few mistakes will be made if it is diligently followed. However the mechanics of the. book make it hard to pin- point that advice. Such a book is mainly of value for refer- ence purposes, and the typo- graphy and editing is different for a reference book than for something on the future of Ca- nadian independence. Most un- fortunately, the value of this hook is depreciated because of thoughtless work al the publish- ing level. Nevertheless the serious prai- rie gardener will want to have this book. If he takes the time and trouble to mark it heavily, to do editing lhal ought to have been done for him, he will find it very worthwhile. It is loaded with helpful advice. CliEO MOWERS of capital cities, which seems like overdoing it. There are also far more historical illus- trations of most points than really seem necessary. The final chapter dealing with the coming world-city is full of provocative thoughts. Dr. Toynbee is apprehensive about the population explosion and the mushrooming slums in and around most cities. He foresees clashes between the rich and poor; between whiles and coloreds; between people of varying cultural b a c k- grounds; as they are pressed closer together. The necessity of change in administrative structure is obvious some sort of global federation must come into being. Some moro equitable distribution of reve- nue is imperative. Transporta- tion is already a nightmare and Dr. Toynbee thinks both automobile and airplane travel will be forcibly terminated in the interests of survival pas- senger trains will have to come back. Ekislics, tlie science of hu- man settlements, urgently needs the best brains available. Although the Canadian govern- ment was slow to recognize the crucial importance of this sub- ject, il has now scl up a de- partment of urban affairs to wrestle with some of the things Dr. Toynbee has touched on in his book. The more who, like Dr. Toynbee, give their atten- tion to the challenges implicit in the coining world-city, the better. DOUG WALKER. Focus on the University u_.__ By J. W. F15HBOURNE A (nearly) pleasant tliouglii rjplffi shopping days fade away one by one and the world braces itself for its an- nual dose of love and peace. Scrooges and Grinclics cower and tremble before the on- slaught of joy and goodness. And people like the writer of this column summon whatever shreds of altruism1 they can, and try to think of something to say about ed- ucation that, if not exactly at least won't unduly complicate the already for- midable alimentary problems that inevi- tably result from unwonted indulgence in sweelness and light. It's difficult. There just aren't that many features to our system of education that one can eulogize with good conscience. But, spurred by the spirit of Christmas (if you must be spurred by a spirit, by all means choose a benevolent one) I have searched diligently and am happy to report some small success. I have finally discovered or perhaps come lo realize lhal Ihe cen- tral feature in our whole attitude to edu- cating the young is faith. And faith, any kind of faith, is good. Even when it is mis- guided, abused or frustrated, faith is still a precious and beautiful thing. Faith has always characterized our ap- proach to education. Some years ago, our forefathers decreed that education would be universal, compulsory and paid for by the state. Surely this was an act of faith. All they had to go on was the rhetoric of those who saw in education emancipation from misery for tlie masses, plus what little evidence they could discern in the fact that most of the materially successful among them seemed to have an above-average education. So faith was needed; faith that educating the commoners would raise Ihem up, make them better citizens, more useful employees and happier people. The public still has faith. Bedazzled by what we call progress, which if somehow Ihinks is beneficial, and which il sees as stemming from a wider dissemination of knowledge, it pours billions into education. It recognizes in a dim sort of way that its major ills war, poverty, racism and the rest are as virulent as ever, but it still retains its faith in mass education, that when enough people know enough, things will be belter. Parents have faith, too, and in enormous measure. It's not just that they pay their taxes, as they have little choice about that. is there much faith involved in send- ing their kids lo school, because lhal is compulsory. There is something more. They have this wonderful belief that their children benefit from everything the edu- cational system gives them or does to them, and in proportion to the time and efforts spent in these things, whatever they are. This has to be faith, because there isn't very much evidence, unless numbers on a piece of paper are evidence. All they learn from the periodical report cards u that, whatever the child is supposed to be doing, he is doing it in some sort of re- lationship to others who are doing the same thing. From this, and the fact that everybody else seems to b e following along, somehow comes the belief that if the child keeps on going to school for long enough, he will be a better, happier and more successful person. If that isn't faith, I don't know what is. Students have always drawn on almost incredible stores of faith. As very young children, they have run off to the school- house, shining with anticipation. As adol- escents they have persevered, not always happily, but confident that whatever school seemed to be, the effort was worthwhile. As college or university students, they have had doubts but for the most part these have been overcome. Some, partic- ularly in our time, have begun to notice the tarnish on the pot of gold, and the diminished lustre of the rainbow, but most seem willing, as Browning puts it, "to go on trusting, namely, 'til failh move moun- If I were not myself (and perhaps If I had not browsed a little after looking up the lasl quotation) the odd educational mogul who runs across this column might have been spared a Ihought by Woods- worth, which goes like this: "One in whom persuasion and belief Had ripened into faith, and faith become A passionate intuition." The Voice Of One -By DR. FRANK S. MORIEY Hoitfs your sensitivity! VTARRY Beshara had a most unusual op- eration at the Ohio State University Hospital, Departmenl of Research Surgery. When he was a boy a friend and he were cleaning a "22" rifle which went off and a bullet lodged in his heart. By the lime he was 30 years old, lime deposits had form- ed about the bullet and shut off normal heart action. A delicate operation was per- formed pealing off Ihe lime deposits. So the heart functioned properly again and at lasl reports Harry was doing very well. Would il nol be a splendid thing if the deposits of selfishness and prejudice could be peeled away from the heart in Ihe same manner? These deposits grow up about the heart year by year until all sensitivity goes, until men can even justify the atomic bomb ing of Hiroshima or the savagery of Ihe Vietnam and other wars, until the famines and tragedies of other people have no ef- fect whatever on one's feelings. Young people talk much about sensitivity. They have strange ways of expressing their desire for empathy with others, but their intention is good. Ezekiel says of the ex- iles, "I sat where they sat." Tins is not easy. 11 requires much imagination to en- ter into another person's feelings, to see with their eyes, to suffer in Iheir anguish. Job said lo his friends who gave advice so easily, "If your soul were in my soul's Now what a difference thai makes! It is easy to condemn another if you have never been subjecl lo tlie same templalion, never had the same education, never lived in Ihe same environment, never had the same physical weaknesses. Sitting on tlie balcony, looking down with lordly eyes on some human being in distress, it is easy to call him a fool, to condemn him, but it would be much different if your soul were in his soul's stead, if you sat where he sat. Imagination is desperately needed today in this time of tension, when peoples live so closely together in this crowded world, when the tragedies of one become Ihe trag- edies of all mankind. If it were true of the time of John Donne, it is much more true today that "no man is an island." Take o? Pakistan as an example of our unity, also of our need for imagina- tion. How can Canadians imagine 570 mil- lion people crowded into that area of India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, increasing at a rale of 2-1 million a year? How can Cana- dians picture this bit of East Pakistan, sep- arated from their home government, living below the water level, at tlie confluence of Ihe Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers which have a flood of water at the mouth seven times that of the Mississippi, with one rice crop a year and the rest of the time a waste land? Cholera and plague are rife here always, but most at lliis time of fearful flood which has drowned its hun- dreds of thousands and left millions shut off from food, water, and medical supplies. This is not the first flood, nor will it be the last. Repeatedly scientists have warned that precautions must be taken and dwell- ings devised to lift the people above tha flood level. Nothing has been done. Strange, since science can so easily be applied to the deslruction of life, but so slowly If ever lo the saving of life in such terrible situa- tions. Something must also be done about population explosion or the situation will be aggravated continually and man's sym- pathy will be atrophied. Advent is a time for the development (rf sensitivity, for the recovery of Ihe health of the heart. Sheer selfishness would de- mand il. II is ironic thai China, Communist China, should have led in aid for Romania. China is very active in aid for Pakistan. The so called Christian West can be no less responsive. But surely such response to a needy world does not depend on self in- terest. It depends on one who came to this world 2000 years ago and taught, "Inas- much as you have done il unto the least of these you have done it unto me I was hungry and you gave me meat I was .sick and you ministered unto me." This is tlie only tme division of the world into the hard-hearted and the tender-hearted, into those who feel the need of then- fellow- men and bring all tlie resources of science and production to meet human need. The world must learn compassion if the world ij to survive. Tire human family is one. This is the message of Cliristmas. This is the Advent meaning and demand. capitulate yOU CAN'T fight tlie establishmenl not the whole cstablishmenl at any A recent substitution of a filler on rate, this page was carried out by Jim Maybie (D'Arc Rickard stoutly insists ho has been an innocent byslander) in co-operalion with compositor Frank Sherman and with the consent of my boss, Clco Mowers and tlie tacit approval of my associate, Mar- garet Luckhurst. If you can't trust these people who can you trust? So 1 am capitulating. I rather regret il, th.iugh, because I would like to have done something about promoting singing lessons By Doug Walker for Jim Maybie. Well, I can now turn my attention lo Niels Kloppenborg or John Gogo or Hugh MacAulay. And Elspeth isn't very likely to be in cahoots with the gang at Tlie Herald, either. Actually it will be a relief to have a truce. It was nerve-wracking to be under Jim's surveillance. Every time I looked up there he was peering around the corner of my office door or looking over the parti- tion front the sports department. His proxy a picture of Haqus! Welch, stuck in ths glass facing me was pleasant enough. But she has been removed and it's not worth it to have to find it's Maybie again!