Helen Goes Down the Hill
Since it is a hot week here in the Northeast USA, I thought everyone might be interested in reading a sledding story. This is one of my short stories based upon family history. While not everything in the story is true, the aspect of location, main character and the sledding incident are true. I hope you enjoy the story:
"Why are there skis on the bus, Helen?" Mary tugged on Helen's red wool coat. They were going to go sledding near Lake Simcoe, the big lake near Barrie, Ontario. It was cold - perfect weather for sledding.
"So they can go through the snow easier," Helen explained. It was the year 1920. “Would you want to shovel out the roads?" Olive had told Helen the same thing when Helen asked her the same question when Helen had been Mary’s age.
The hill beside Lake Simcoe towered over them. The lake looked large and dangerous. Boys sped down the hill, ditching into a snow bank before they crossed the road. Alongside the road, buses dropped people off so that they could go skating on the lake.
"What are you doing here, Helen?" One of the older boys, Ted sneered. He poked Helen in the shoulder. "Shouldn't you be home playing with your dolls?"
"I can sled just as easily as you can sled, Ted." She crossed her arms over her chest. "Besides, it's a good day to sled."
Ted snorted, but stepped out of her way. "When you fall off, don't fall down crying because you were scared."
Others chuckled, but Helen ignored them and trudged to the top of the hill. Mary paused to look behind them. "What does he mean, Helen?" She played with the wrists of her mittens. "Is it dangerous?"
"No more than any other hill in the area," Helen answered. "Ted's just trying to make himself look more important than he is."
Mary said nothing as they continued up. Two sleds raced down the hill. Mary watched them crash into the snow bank. "Why do they do that?"
"So they don't go into the road." Helen tugged the sled out of a patch of softer snow. "If you stopped in the road and one of the buses didn't see you …"
Mary shuddered then slipped her hand in Helen's hand. "What if you didn't stop in the road."
Helen turned. "You'd probably land out on the lake."
"Watch out, Helen," Billy said when they had reached the top. "It was cold last night so the snow's slick." He was near Ted's age, but nicer. "And make certain that you ditch before you get into the road."
"I will." Helen promised. "I'll go down first to show you that it isn't all that scary, Mary."
Mary sniffed and nodded her head.
Lying flat on her stomach, Helen pushed off and sped down the hill. The wind bit into her face, and she blinked against the cold. Before she reached the road, she ditched herself into the snow bank. She stood and dusted off the snow then went back up the hill. "See, it's not that bad at all."
Mary stared down the hill, wrinkling her nose as she did. "I want to go down elsewhere, I think."
"Fair enough," Helen answered. "I'll go down again then we can go over there to the far side where the hill's not as steep and not as close to the road." Below them, a snowball fight had started with the boys who were still at the bottom. Helen Elizabeth shook her head. She wouldn't be able to sled there without going into the boys like a bowling ball into pins. Another path had been formed by one or two sleds, but appeared safe enough.
A bus parked to let people off to go to the lake, but Helen knew she could ditch her sled before reaching the street.
Ted hollered for them to clear out so he could go down, but Helen set her sled on the top of the other path and pushed off.
The wind whipped past her face as she raced down the hill. The snowball fight continued, and some moved closer to Helen's path. She couldn't holler for them to leave, so she looked for another place to ditch the sled. The wind blinded her eyes, and she flew past the fight and onto the street, still going towards the bus.
She twisted to the right, and her sled went between the front and back wheels of the bus, down the short hill to the lake, across the dock, and out onto Lake Simcoe.
Helen looked around her to make certain her sled had stopped. She could hear people yelling at her. She sat up and looked back to the hill. Ted and Billy pushed through the crowd of people. "Are you all right?" Billy asked first.
"I think so."
"That was the farthest anyone has ever gone!" Ted whispered.
Helen stood. "I told you that girls could sled just as well as boys could." She looked at Ted. "And I wasn't scared at all."