Chip, chip, chip. What next?

I was totally wrapped up in my latest graphic design project today and after searching the Internet for umpteen million things and finding UNoptimized photos *everywhere*, I was so exasperated, I was gonna bore you with instructions for optimizing photos! And then I found this. If you can’t get to the link, it’s an article about how the Ann Arbor Public School district, in its infinitely superior wisdom, has banned sledding at recess because one kid got a concussion. Sigh.

Okay, back in the dark ages, I don’t remember much of anything being off limits at recess. My neighborhood in the south side of Sault Ste. Siberia was pretty flat but by about January we had some pretty huge snowbanks. We would climb to the top of them with our sleds, which were often pieces of cardboard, and slide right down onto the ice and snow covered street below. I suppose we must’ve had a lookout for vee-hickles but I sure don’t remember. I do remember sledding down one of those hills in the dark one winter with a raging bonfire in a barrel (probably a trash can, we used to burn our trash in those days) just a few feet away from the “hill.” There were no parents around. Nobody ever got hurt that I remember.

If we were feeling a bit more adventuresome, we could walk the 5-6 blocks up to Cotey’s Hill. I’m sure I didn’t spell that right. I don’t think I ever saw the word written down anywhere. Anyway. We’d trudge/slip/slide up there with our sleds or flying saucers or cardboard — in the dark, no less — and climb up the hill and *fly* down it! There was a big bump about two-thirds of the way down and if we got airborne and had a hard, concussive-style landing, we were thrilled beyond belief! There were never any parents around. At the end of the night, we would trudge/slip/slide along down home again for hot chocolate.

We really don’t get that much snow on the Planet. But one winter when the beach urchins were in grade school and the “Rotgutski” kids were living next door with their grandparents, we had a few good snowfalls. There was never enough snow to make the 8-foot snowbanks that are required for a good ride down into the street. But there’s enough of a hill in Hans’s front yard that the the kids could sled down it. And probably into the street. Sugar and Jealousy and various unidentified flying saucers were put to good use that winter. And sometimes they were out well into the late hours of the dark on school nights. It was okay with me, because sledding is something every kid should have a chance to do and, down here in southeast Michigan, you have to take advantage of the snow when you can.

People of the Planet, let ’em sled. There are some kids that are gonna get concussions no matter what they do or you do. You can’t chain ’em up or lock ’em up or whatever. Sledding and other “dangerous” activities are important things for kids to do. Eventually they’re going to leave you. For college and/or Spain and/or Berkeley and/or Africa and/or wherever. You are not going to have any control over what they do. Choose very carefully about what activities you limit them on when they’re young.

6 Responses to “Chip, chip, chip. What next?”

  1. Webmomster Says:

    JHMK!! I remember when – during my elementary school years – one of the boys fell off the *top* of the 12′-high slide onto the asphalt playground surface during recess…and did a great job of fracturing his skull. Had to wear some kind of protective helmet for a couple months…

    Ran into a fellow (a grade ahead of me) in high school, had a conversation that somehow triggered a connection in my mind with that incident of many years earlier, and learned *he* was that kid! Alive, well, and normal (whatever THAT is… ;-/ )

    Anyway…crux of this incident was, no outcry, the slide remained in place for a long time after that, and the asphalt was never removed during the remainder of my school career… [now, it’s a parking lot, and a NEW playground is on the grass the other side of the school building, and NO SLIDES!!]

  2. Jay Says:

    Well – our A2 sledding hill was at the Slauson Football field hill from Crest.
    A long time ago – there were goal posts at the bottom of the hill. I remember someone hitting them and breaking their leg. I don’t know who they were -just some other neighborhood boy. On the really snowy/icy times you could start on the sidewalk at the corner of Liberty and Crest and sled all the way down to the hill, turn onto the hill and down to the bottom.

  3. Sandy Says:

    I don’t remember anything dangerous at recess, but we certainly spent many days and nights sledding around our neighborhood — down the front sidewalk, which required going across the alley and down more sidewalk; down the back alley, “3 bump hill” behind the houses at the college and another rather short steep hill behind Dorothy’s house where a ditch prevented you from going onto the street, and the west hill at the college where you hit a fence if you got a “good” ride on your toboggan. And then there were a few places on the edge of town where we would go sledding, then a car would pull us back up the hill. I also remember lots of “eggs” on my head from ice skating in our back yard. Maybe our snowsuits protected us some, but I don’t remember any major injuries.

  4. kayak woman Says:

    Sandy and the now “Tucson Crew” had the best places to sled. I think that the west hill at the college is where the xmas ski school was for the first couple years. Nowadays, if you hang around in that area, especially with binoculars (whole ‘nother story involving the GG ;-)) you’d be likely to catch the attention of homeland security.

  5. Pooh Says:

    When we were sledding at Slauson it was during non-school hours and back in the day before law suit-happy people sued for every little bump and bruise. But it did take them a long time (years) before the school district decided it would be a good idea to take down the goal post after football season and before sledding season. Of course, there was still the big bump, which the kids may have iced to make it faster. From personal experience, it could be dangerous enough to send a child to the emergency room.

    I was in high school, and had an after school job babysitting a third grader until her parents got home. We took her toboggan over the bump and rolled it. She ended up with a broken wrist, which wasn’t discovered until three weeks later. She’d complained that it hurt, but her parents thought she was playing for attention, since she could move her hand and arm, and there was no swelling. When it finally did start to swell three weeks later, her parents were embarrassed that they hadn’t caught it earlier, and I was upset because I’d been there when it happened, but Julie seemed pretty excited by having a cast that all her friends could sign.

    By the way, I had an email conversation with the boy who broke his leg. Jim Rees had put some before and after pictures of Johnny’s Market which was across the street from Bach Elementary in one of the A2 links in this blog sometime last year. He has a blog also, at He also has a professional web-site. Anne, you might want to talk with him – mention my name.

  6. jane Says:

    ok – time to fess up. when I was in elementary school (Bach) we used to sled on the Big Playground – during recess, as well as after school. I can’t remember if I wasn’t supposed to sled there after school becaseu of what my parents said, or becasue of somethign the school said, but we did it anyway. one day I was sledding with Karen Sells, on the left hand side of the hill. there was a large tree at the bottom. yes, I got off-line and ran smack into the tree knocking myself out. when I came to Karen was right in my face – I must have scared her pretty badly. we couldn’t tell anyone becasue we weren’t supposed to be there. so I headed home after that, with a big ol’ bruise on my thigh and for the next several weeks would change into my nightgown REALLY quickly so no one would see the huge ugly bruise on my leg.

    it wasn’t the only time I knocked myself out while playing – and I turned out jsut fine. (no comment from the peanut gallery please!! 😉

    Jay – I had completely forgotten about the extended Slauson run starting at Liberty! lots of fun sledding at Slauson – and only a block away from home. but I do remember that the ice run with the bump was killer! you were going to be ejected for sure. and it still amuses me that the goal posts were right there at the bottom of the hill — times were very different.