By DAVID GREEN
When Colleen and I were out walking Saturday, we traveled down Bank Street and I gazed out onto the former sledding territory of my youth.
Bank Street has to be Morenci’s most unusual road, ranked just ahead of Mowrey Street.
It sounds as though a bank used to be located there, but it must be referring to the embankment. This is the hilly region of a very flat city. A glacier did something along that southwestern boundary, and what it left behind were sledding opportunities.
Where Orchard Street curves around to join Stephenson Street, that’s been the traditional sledding hill for at least three generations of Morenci kids, probably more.
It’s never enough to just ride a sled down the hill. You have to see how many kids you can pile on top of a sled. You have to join up sleds in a train. You have to stand up as you go down the hill. You have to build ramps of snow and fly into the air.
All of these things lead to incidents that parents should never witness. They don’t need to watch their child get mowed down by the sled from behind. They don’t need to see their little dear fly into the air, roll across the snow half a dozen times, and lie still for what seems like forever. Until he gets run over by another sledder. This is called Winter Fun.
I remember being that kid who had to go down the hill standing up. I would make it about three-fourths of the way down, lose my balance and fly off, lying in the snow wondering if all my limbs still worked. And then I would feel the runners of Jim Johnston’s sled pass over, or if lucky, just Renée Allen or Addie Sue Peltz coming down on a snow saucer—a smooth pass without any blades.
As we walked down Bank Street Saturday, another incident came to mind. It always does when I’m walk along there, no matter what time of the year.
Bank Street offers two sledding options. There’s a fantastic path that heads north along the edge of the bank. A good slope for decent speed and a curve near the bottom that’s likely to send you into some trees.
You’re supposed to be able to steer those sleds. My Western Flyer was built that way. Twist that wooden bar at the front and the runners would follow. It might have worked to some extent, but more often than not, a rider would quickly abandon his craft before striking the tree. And sometimes the rider would roll into the tree anyway.
I don’t remember spending a lot of time on that hill. There were railroad ties implanted in the soil and one of those sticking up too far could result in a spectacular head-over-heels maneuver.
When I walk Bank Street, I think about the stock watering tank that we found in the woods below the hill. By “we” I probably mean Jim and John Bryner and maybe Bob Ackland.
This leads to the other Bank Street sledding option. The short but steep drop straight down between the trees.
One of us spotted the old watering tank—rectangular and open on top—and one of us decided this could provide a thrilling ride down the hill. It was metal, it could act as a sort of armored device. What would it matter if you hit the trees when you were inside a tank?
Somehow we managed to drag the thing to the top of the hill and we placed it on the biggest sled. Everybody got inside except the pusher who hopped in as it started moving downhill.
It still seemed like a good idea as we began our steep descent. Maybe it would have been a good idea if someone had thought about tying the tank to the sled.
Instead, it rolled off near the bottom of the hill and what resulted was something no parent should have been allowed to see.
My brother Dan recently sent me a note about Ulf Buck, a blind psychic from Meldorf, Germany, who claims that buttocks can be used to predict the future.
By running his fingers along a number of lines on the surface of a client's naked buttocks—like the palm of the hand—he tells them about their future monetary success, family life, health and happiness.
I mentioned this to my wife and she thinks the buttocks are more likely to tell stories from the past. Somewhere on my derriere is the tale of that water tank day on the Bank Street hill.– Feb. 28. 2007