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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - December 24, 1970, Lethbridge, Alberta Wintry months were hot times in Good Old Days By tURGJS EARLYWINE THE SNOWMOBILK that bounces over snowbanks, like the beachbuggy does sand dunes in summer, is just a contrivance to enable a softer, less adaptive modern .generation to rediscover win- ter excitements and satisfac- tions as their long-gone great- grandparents (or much more remote ancestors) did. It may be surprising news to many, if not most, persons today that a majority of adults in northern parts of Europe and North also some corresponding geo- graphical and climatical re- gions in other continents indulged more freely in sports or recreations in cold months than in the warm seasons. Summers were generally times for work necessary to survival and prosperity; few persons could afford then to Indulge in play or non-sup- porting activities. On the other hand, cold months, with Bleet, ice, snow, tended to force cessation of various kinds of normal activities outdoors. But they also pro- vided frozen ponds, lakes, Victorian time frame for ladies apprehensive o f revealing legs in a sprawling plunge. rivers, roads, for enjoyment of skating, sleighing, or glid- ing with sails. Commerce, or any kind of transportation, was broad- ened and expedited in cold months, paradoxically. In all zones where freezing oc- curred, the sleigh or its di- minutive, the sled, became a popular vehicle for travel or simple enjoyment as an ad- fore the second half of the 19th century in general, high- ways for public coaches or private carriages were too few, bone-shaking or slow for ordinary folks to enjoy. Whereas a sleigh or sled was a vehicle almost any farmer or woodsman could build and, assuming he had a horse, mule, or even ox or bullock, his family could travel as freely, comfortably, and as fast in winter as his most af- fluent neighbor. A sled for "coasting" fashioned by his father was many a boy's fa- vorite Christmas gift. (The 'runners' were often hard oak, made glassily slick v.'ith rubbings of tallow.) Emphatically, much pas- senger travel for a purpose other than pleasure and haul- "A New Mode for Learning How to Skate with engraving for a popular American periodical in 1874. ing of all sorts always .was easier in back country re- gions in the frigid months than in spring, summer and autumn, when trails or roads were flooded, muddy, rutted, jolty; tiresome to beast and traveler, blown suffocatingly with dust. Come cold months and all the young in spirit had rea- son to sing joyously: Dashing thro' the snow The sleigh-ride was cold month equivalent _of hay-ride for lively spirits in olden times, with progress heralded resoundingly by horn, and chaperones following (extreme right) discreetly. In a one-horse open sleigh O'er the -fields we go Laughing all the way; Bells on bob-tail ring Making spirits bright What fun it is to ride and sing A sleighing song tonight! This sentiment of James Pierpont in the 19th century, was matched by one on skat- ing expressed by another youth of Puritan ancestry, Theodore Winthrop: A bounding gallop is good Over wide plains; A wild free sail is goad 'Mid gales and rains A dashing dance is good Broad halls along, Reindeer never had usefulness equal to dogs, which remained snow-month freight convey- ers in Northern Europe and Canada, as il- lustrated above, into the 20th century. Ice-skating (and hand-holding) were in- dulged in openly by mingled sexes, married or un- married, day or night. This scene: Victorian 1890s! Clasping and whirling on Through a gay throng. But better than these, When the great lakes freeze, By the clear sharp light Of a starry night, O'er the ice spinning With a long free sweep, Cutting and ringing Forward we keep! On 'round and around, vfith a sharp clear sound, o fly like a fish in the sea! Ah, this is the sport for me! "Wild free sails' on skates were enjoyed from early times in Scandinavian coun- tries, where hunters of geese, ducks and other quarry re- sorted to this swift means of locomotion over ice covered waters in frigid season. Then for the non-ven- turous, sedentary, there was fishing through the ice of ponds, small streams, rivers, lakes, inlets in the warm comfort of tents pitched over a hole chopped in ice. GIVE a boy a a kite, a bal- loon, a top, a hoop, jumping jack, hob- byhorse, or his imagination and experimentation may produce a historic scientific discovery or invention. If Josiah Franklin sent young son Ben out with the injunction, "Go fly your it was very bene- ficial. The kite Franklin learned to make and fly in youth was his eventual means of confirming the identity of lightning and electricity, and his invention of lightning rods. Similarly, Franklin's ex- Who Was Toys are sometimes the beginnings of tvonderful things periments as a boy with kite- propulsion as he swam in a pond stimulated the acquisi- tion of further knov.'lodqo of wind and current reactions thr.t leu tn his the pathfinder o: Stream. Again, the; in sprnrui from hi placing fit boats v.-iM: v.i. the Gulf times, fireworks made as toys' or colorful and noisy amuse- ments in China, where gun- powder was discovered, led to ventures with rockets progenitors of all reaction or jet carriage pro- pcllants. Kiics had already boon advanced in China from to message Con- veyors, ar.d v.-ar weapons. Ti-.ire rnulrl have been an Icarus, figuratively speaking, in the l-'ar Ka. t long before BALLOON A. L M A N A C, For the Year of our LOR D, 1787. FENNSrLFJ X I Jt Illustration here (i) could've been Peter Games' balloon in epo- chal 1781 ascension. Top from ancient China, powered by 1) o w. Unwinding of tightly-wound string spun the feather blades as helicopter. the legend of the latter rose in the West. Fortunately, later-day youths in the West- ern world were never dis- couraged by what mytholo- gists recorded of this pre- sumed first space pilot from braving the skies with con- trivances of their own. In their practical way of think- ing, the facts about Icarus' flight might have been al- tered to make his fate appear a 'lesson' to youths. The ver- sion taught had Icarus' es- cape from the labyrinth in which he and his father Dae- dalus were imprisoned come to disaster because he disre- garded his father's advice. The assumption was that Ic- arus crashed only because he flow higher than his father, and I hereby let the sun melt wax in his wings. Yet. analy- sis he really was borne off the course to safety in Sicily against his will by a gust of wind. Lack of know- ledge of wind channels and courses impeded aviation ad- vances for centuries. Many pioneer balloonists met Icar- ian disasters. A Frenchman, Jean Blan- chard, is credited in reference books with first ascension in the Western hemisphere, at Philadelphia in 1792. How- ever, The Maryland Journal and Baltimore Advertiser of June 24, 1784 related how, the previous day, a 13-year- old boy, Edward Warren, arose into space and descend- ed safely in a silken-bagged balloon constructed by one Peter Carnes, This was only a year after the first success- ful ascensions of Montgolfier aircraft with animals as cap- tive passengers. Blanchard's balloon was modeled after the epochal Montgolfier craft. x -A -'XL Classic painting of Icarus' disaster as first spam pilot with inference 111' disregarded instructions. o This hot idea was pictured in 1860s, when rocket- guns had been introduced in the whaling industry. Young Warren, certainly the first American aviator, may have been the first space pilot after the legendary Dae- dalus and Icarus, or those venturesome ancient Chinese. Who could guess what was a rival attraction to "balloon- ists" at fairs around 1900, when the young brothers Wright were about to trans- form gliders into airplanes? Kite men! Yes, men were flown in kites with such suc- cess that the U.S. Army ex- perimented with kites as re- connaissance observation platforms, before it bought a balloon or a Wright airplane. Meanwhile, incidentally, a. boy in Columbus, Ohio, Crom- well Dixon, had devised a sky-cycle, i.e., a balloon with a propeller activated by bicy- cle-like pedals and gears. This was not a new idea, but Cromwell made it practical enough for him to give exhi- bitions at fairs, and let it be suggested he might eventual- ly pedal to the moon! Give a boy (or a a toy and something great could be the result. Prof. C. E. Kitchcll eiivisoncd sky-cycle back in 1878, but his design proved unmanageable against winds. Distributed by Kiiif Ftnturcj Symlkulc, 1WO ;