2013-01-03 / Columns

Life & Times

After all, there’s no business like ‘snow’ business
by Rusty Mitchum • Outdoors, Texas Style

Well, since we had snow last week, I figured I’d let y’all read an oldie, but goodie.

My kids were home a couple of weeks ago when I thought they should have been in school.

“It’s a bad weather day,” said my daughter.

“The weather’s not bad,” I said.

“No, Daddy. We are given so many days a year to make up the days we miss if the weather is so bad that we can’t go to school. If we don’t use them for bad weather, then they give them to us anyway.”

“Go on,” I said.

Man, that’s a good deal. I remember those days when we couldn’t go to school because of ice and snow. That was the next best thing to Christmas. Any other day Mom would have to pull us out of bed, but if there was a chance that we might not have to go to school we’d be up before daylight with our ear to the radio hopin’ for those words that a kid lives for, “No school today.”

Now, I know a lot of moms hated these announcements, but not mine. I think she enjoyed it as much as my sister and I did. She didn’t go out and play like we did, but she was in charge of makin’ life easier for us.

She’d put so many clothes on us that it was hard to move. Then she’d stick plastic bread wrappers on our feet and hands and they would be held in place with rubber bands. We looked a sight.

Once, when we had a hard freeze, my cousin Coy and I joined up with Greg Hunt, Little Rusty, and his little brother Wee Whoa. His real name was Randy Joe, but when he said it, it sounded like Wee Whoa, so that’s what we called him.

Anywho, beside Greg’s house there was some land that belonged to a roofin’ company, and they kept their ol’ junker trucks there. It was a great place to play. These trucks were old 30 or 40-somethin’ models with no engines and had been there so long that a few even had trees growin’ up through them. One was our winter clubhouse. We’d all cram into the cab and then build a fire in the glove compartment. We would roll down the window every once in a while to let the smoke out to keep our coughin’ fits to a minimum.

“I’m bored,” said Greg.

“I’m cold,” said Little Rusty.

“I think I’ve got black lung,” coughed Coy.

“You know,” I said, “we need us a sled.”

“Ooooo, yeah,” said Greg. “That would be slick.”

“Where are we gonna to get a sled?” Coy asked.

“I know,” said Greg. “Let’s use the hood of this truck.”

“Do what?” I said.

“Yeah,” he said. “We’ll take the hood of this truck, turn it upside down, and we can all sit on it.”

“I think he may have somethin’ there,” said Coy.

Luckily for us, the hood was just laying on the truck, it was not connected. This hood was one of those kinds that you lifted one side or the other. It was hinged so that there was one piece down the middle.

When we lifted it off, it looked like a giant vampire bat. You talk about heavy. Wow! The front curved down, but when we turned it upside down, this part was then curved up like the front of a toboggan.

We pulled and pushed that ol’ hood across the ice and snow, and finally got it to Greg’s house. Greg lived on a hill and he had a steep driveway that lead down to the highway. We put our new sled on the frozen ground beside the driveway and climbed in. We kept rockin’ the sled until it finally started down. There was a ditch at the bottom of the hill, so we thought that would be where we would stop. We were wrong. We hit that ditch and shot out the other side and came to a stop in the middle of the highway. Fortunately, there were no cars comin’. We scrambled out of our sled and got it pulled off the road.

“Man,” I said. “That was close.”

“Yeah,” said Greg. “But wudn’t it fun?” We all had to agree to that.

We drug (I know, it’s suppose to be dragged, but drug is such a better word) the hood sled back up the hill and to the back of Greg’s house. The pasture behind his house had a gradual slope down to the creek.

“How are we gonna stop it before it hits the creek?” Little Rusty asked.

“Hmmmm,” I hmmmmed. “Good question.”

Then Coy came up with the solution. “We need an anchor to throw out.”

“Like what?” asked Greg.

“Wee Whoa,” said Coy.

“Wee Whoa?” I questioned.

“Yeah,” said Coy. “We tie a rope to Wee Whoa and when we get close to the creek, we throw him out. He’ll drag us to a stop.” Greg and I looked at each other.

“Sound’s good to me,” I said.

“Me too,” said Greg and Little Rusty. The only one who wasn’t in favor of this idea was Wee Whoa, but since it was a democracy, he was out voted.

We tied one end of the rope to the Wee Whoa and the other to his brother, Little Rusty, and tried it out on a run down the hill. It proved to be a bad idea because when we threw Wee Whoa out and he hit the ground, and the slack came out of the rope, Little Rusty was jerked clean out of the sled. Fortunately, the sled was slowed enough to keep the rest of us out of the creek. From then on, we tied the rope directly to the sled.

We pulled the sled back to the top of the hill and picked out the steepest part. It ended at the widest and deepest part of the creek.

“Men,” said Greg. “This is it. Do or die.”

“Die?” said Wee Whoa. This was the first time he had spoken all day. Little Rusty’s dog, Bones, joined us.

He wanted to ride, too, and to us a dog was as good as a kid, so we put him aboard. Coy and I were lying on one side of the hood, with our hands grippin’ the front, and Greg and Little Rusty were on the other side. Wee Whoa was sittin’ in the middle, behind him was Bones.

Not only was the hill steep, but it was several hundred yards to the bottom. With our toes, we pushed off. At first, it was slow, but gradually we picked up speed. I had a hand on Wee Whoa’s coat, ready to toss him off the back, when Coy hollered. “Oh no!” Look!”

We all looked and there, in our path, was a stump. It was only about six inches in diameter, but it was about a foot tall. We all thought that our sled was fixin’ to come to an abrupt stop.

“Abandon ship!” yelled Greg. We peeled off that hunk of metal and bounced on the ground. All of us that is, except Wee Whoa and Bones. We looked in horror as they approached the stump. Wee Whoa was desperately tryin’ to untie himself.

“I can’t watch,” said Little Rusty, but we all did.

As the sled hit the stump, an amazin’ thing happened. The middle part, where Wee Whoa and Bones were sittin’ rose up and smoothly slid over the stump.

“Yea!” we yelled. Wee Whoa turned, smiled, and waved at us, and then they hit the creek. The hood skidded about halfway across and stopped, then sunk. Luckily it wasn’t but knee deep. Wee Whoa was half frozen when we got him out. When we got him home, his mother asked that question that all Moms ask, “What happened here?” So, we told the truth.

“He fell in the creek, but we saved him.”

Wee Whoa nodded in agreement. You don’t rat on your buddies, you know.

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