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Uphill one way. . .

December 21, 2021
Henry, actually. Recently.

Winter Solstice, 2021

My childhood memories are jumbled like a UPS truckload of Amazon packages.  Yes, many were sunny and optimistic, as I suspect yours were, but I had my share of blizzards to brave.  Like many blizzards, I often endured them alone. What a strange phenomenon. Perhaps you endured yours solo also. Not all of them, but the most memorable.

I’m recalling things in 1954. That was a tough year for us because Daddy died a few months previously of a brain tumor. His promising career as a journalism professor at the university in Missoula was finished.

Amazes me my mother let me out of the house for me to stump stiffly around to the backyard where the wind made my head ache and my eyes water.  I was four years old!

Maybe today’s not so good for playing outdoors, I thought, as I crunched my rubber overshoes into the icy snow.  My jeans were lined with flannel but my legs got cold anyhow. Normally, I’d find a friend or two outside. 

My friend Mike Kohler, especially, was apt to be outdoors playing on any day of the week—even Sundays—because his family didn’t make him go to Sunday school. I had to skip out on Sundays. I could do it because nobody else in my family had to go, only me. If I went to Sunday School I’d walk a short way up the alley to the Bickel’s house and ride with them.

One snowy day Mike and I planned to take a day off from Mrs. Bloom’s kindergarten to play in the snow.  We met as we usually did for kindergarten, walked to the corner of the block, but took a right, then another right down the alley back to my house.  Mother taught second grade at Jefferson School.  My older brother and sister were in grade school and high school, so nobody saw me return home to retrieve my collection of little rubber army men.  Mike and I built a snow fort to kill the army men by throwing snowballs at them.  We played all morning, then went home, as if from our half-day kindergarten.  Trouble was Mike’s mother knew we finished too early.

Later Larry Bickel chanted at us, “Hookey players, hockey players.”  I had to ask my mother what that meant.

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