As far as sleds go, this one was a clunker. Fashioned carefully from two-by-fours, it had just enough room to seat two little girls, if they scrunched up and held on tight. Its runners weren't the slickest thing for cutting through the damp Oklahoma snow. Made of wood, they hardly seemed designed for snow at all.
But then, what did my father know of sleds? An oil field worker who grew up in Arkansas and east Texas, his ideas about sleds came from books, not personal experience. Still, when his 'darling dodders,' as he called my sister and me, said they wanted a sled, he went in the workshop and came out with a close approximation.
The runners were a bit rough, but after a few lurching runs down our snow hill, he decided that Johnson's floor wax might make all the difference. It did - at least enough to give us a few exciting moments on the downhill.
Snow didn't often fall in Oklahoma in sufficient depth to give the sled much of a workout, but my sister and I weren't much for freezing out on that hill anyway. A few runs down, followed by laborious slogging back up the hill with that heavy sled in tow, and we were ready for the house, a warm bath and some hot chocolate.
I don't remember who had the brilliant idea to hitch a team to the sled, but it was Daddy, as usual, who did the handiwork. He crafted a double harness out of canvas scraps and a few spare grommets, and we were set. We just had to round up our dog team.
Off we went in search of PittyPat and Pansy Rue, our Pomeranians, the constant companions of my childhood. At various times they served as our baby dolls, apparently happy to be dressed in doll clothes and paraded around in our baby buggy, or as patients in our field hospital, carefully wrapped in gauze to dress imaginary wounds from a make-believe war for which Sis and I were the best nurses in the corps.
So when it came time to hook up the dog team to our chunky wooden sled, the puppies were a perfect set of sled dogs. If I could find the photos taken that day, I would post them for you. They were such a funny pair, and for at least a little while, they tried and tried to pull that sled through the slushy snow, motivated, no doubt, by the Milk Bones my sister and I wafted in front of their little button noses.
This remains one of my favorite winter memories, though the little dogs, the sled and my sweet Dad are long gone. I hope you'll enjoy all the other winter memories in our Heart of the Home section, and maybe be inspired to recall - or create - a few of your own.Stay warm!
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