We had snow most everywhere in Ohio this past week so my mind has turned to memories of winter sports growing up. Most of us growing up in working class neighborhoods did not have the luxury of going away to ski resorts. Winter thrills in the snow consisted of jumping on a sled (or an inner tube) and barreling down one of the local sledding hills around Youngstown. That is, of course, after you dressed up in snowsuit (remember snowsuits!) or bundled up in layers of clothes to stay warm.
The sled I grew up with was much like the one in the picture, where you would lie face down and steer the sled with a yoke that turned the runners to the left or right. When my dad would take us sledding, he would put wax or paraffin on the runners so snow wouldn’t stick to them and we’d get an even faster ride. I think the first time we did this, I clung to my dad’s back out of sheer terror and delight–and immediately asked, can we do it again?
Growing up on the West Side there were two main places I went sledding. One was on the sledding hill right below the play area at the Wick Recreation Area (a.k.a Rocky Ridge, which is what we called it growing up). I seem to recall that sometimes, when the snow was real icy, we could actually make it down that hill, across the baseball field to the next hill. That was a run. The only thing was walking back!
The other place we would go was the hill off South Lakeview that went into the park. There is also a drive (Calvary Run Drive) from South Belle Vista opposite the entrance to Calvary Cemetery that intersected with the road coming off South Lakeview. I seem to recall both being closed during snowy conditions. The hill off Lakeview was really steep and I think they had bales opposite it because their were trees and a creek on the other side of the road it intersected with. I know we used to sled down that hill and I’m trying to remember whether we ever took the road down from Belle Vista, which was a long hill.
One of the best parts of sledding was coming home afterward, getting all those wet clothes off and warming up with a cup of hot chocolate. preferably with marshmellows! Usually, we didn’t feel cold until it was time to go home and it felt so good to get warm again. Maybe it wasn’t a ski lodge but the coziness and warmth of home still felt just as good!
Youngstown has many hills and I have to admit that I am not aware of the places people from other parts of town liked to sled. I’d enjoy hearing about that and your sledding memories.