Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Winter memories: Back when I was a kid ...

Growing up, winter was never my favorite time of year. First of all, there was always the school thing: summer equaled no school, winter equaled school. Add 'em together and you get: winter, yuck. Then, the darkness thing: summer meant sunshine 'til 8, winter meant sunset at 4. Again, winter, yuck.

Although winter is the big loser in my memories, there are a few things I remember that made it an interesting and fun season. It was always possible to find a few friends to bundle up and cause some trouble--rain, snow, or darkness notwithstanding. Today I present to you some winter activities of my youth. None are all that special, I don't think, but I rarely see kids doing these things nowadays. In fact, as I walk around in the frigid Rogers Park air, I wonder, where are all the young people of Chicago? Do I live in a neighborhood of no children? And what would I, a supposedly responsible adult, think if I saw kids doing any of the following in the freshly fallen snow?

Skitching: Technically, this is when a skateboarder grabs onto a moving vehicle and gets pulled. My friends and I used to skitch in winter by grabbing onto bumpers and getting pulled through the snowy streets without a skateboard, just our feet. We figured the drivers were so busy trying not to crash that they didn't even notice us. It's a wonder no one ever jumped out and shot us or even yelled at us, but maybe cars and people were different then. Still, I lost quite a few gloves on those chrome bumpers.

Tackle football: It was never a big deal to find eight, ten, twelve guys and head over to a park for an afternoon of face-numbing, bone-chilling games. No one ever really got hurt, although a few times someone would paint the park red with a bloody nose. At some point after we started discovering girls, we'd invite them to play. I remember one time all my friends laughed because a particularly attractive female friend managed to tackle me. I now say what I never got a chance to say because you idiots were laughing so hard: I let her take me down!

Ice rinks on basketball courts: We'd hang out at this small park across the alley from the house, and we got to know the park employees. Every winter we'd convince them to hose down the outdoor court to turn it into a miniature ice rink. That's where I learned to fall.

Riding the L: The CTA used to have this thing called the Supertransfer, good all day on Sundays. Starting when I was 8 or 9, my friends and I would spend entire Sundays (of course after church, mom) riding around the city, exploring new and dangerous neighborhoods.

Was I a hoodlum growing up? I didn't think so at the time. And that time wasn't really all that long ago. So, why do I feel like some old man reminiscing about the past?

6 Comments:

Anonymous The Mom said...

What about finding a piece of cardboard from a broken down box and then sliding down somebody's front stairs on it?? Or ringing doorbells and running away?? If I got caught I'd always blame my friends, even though I was always the one that was guilty. Being blonde and Polish though, nobody would believe I was guilty of anything. They always blamed my Mexican friends...

8:26 AM  
Anonymous art attack said...

Lucky you mom, although I am polish like you, I look like a mexican so if I was ever caught, I was instantly guilty. sliding down the stairs? how about sliding down the garage roof top.

8:47 AM  
Blogger Marley6 said...

I remember staying out in the snow so long that when you finally came it your entire itched as the blood started to flow back into your skin. And my ass was always bright red because after sledding it was the coldest part of body. OH - and who can forget putting baggies on your feet to keep them extra dry and warm!?

10:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember carrying around baggies of white stuff -- but it sure wasn't snow

11:05 AM  
Anonymous jenska said...

In winter when I was growing up I remember I put on a coat once or twice. Sometimes it got cold! 50 degrees! Brrrrr.

3:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Winter won't come to southern California until an earthquake puts it into the ocean ...

2:26 PM  

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