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Winters in Chelsea, '60's Style

January 22, 2012
Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Have you seen the KWWL Commercial where Mark Schnackenberg walks past the Weather Control desk and notices that his dial has not yet been turned from Fall to Winter? 'Schnack notices this and turns the knob to winter. Thanks a lot, Mark! Our first snow of the season last week. The wind blowing, the snow falling the the temperature taking a big plunge downward. Winter finally arrived. But the good news is that there are about only sixty more days till Spring!!

Winters in Chelsea as a young lad of 10 or 12 was a lot of fun. Snow days were few and far between and I don't know about you, but in Chelsea, we never heard of "early outs" due to teacher in-services. Which is perhaps the reason I am the way I am today!!! But back around 1960 or so, you just made it to school. We had it rough, didn't we? Walking three miles, (ok, for me about a block and a half), uphill both ways! But what really infuriated me was that being a "town-kid" in Chelsea back then sometimes meant that we had school, but the poor 'lil country boys and girls didn't have to come in to school. Now, to be honest, we didn't do much on those days, but dagnabbit, it, we still had to go!! However, on those rare days, those very rare days when school at St. Joseph's was cancelled for the day----it was a treat! Even shoveling snow was fun---for a while. Us boys would grab the shovels, running from house to house, offering to shovel sidewalks, hoping to earn fifty cents or if lucky, even a dollar!!! And this we did all morning.

But it was the afternoons that was the most fun. In Chelsea, it was all about sleigh-riding. And if we could, we headed to Ledvina's big hill, which was a couple miles outside of town, heading towards Tama. Usually we could get a ride there and every conceivable kind of sled was there. And it seemed like tons of kids. There were those two metal rail sleds, the old wooden toboggans, the round saucers and something new---light plastic sleds. Some even brought old wooden skis. And they all worked to some degree or another, depending on the snow. Those metal runner sleds flew on the frozen ground and just a good snow covering but didn't do well in a lot of snow. The toboggans were fun because three or four could ride at the same time. Skis were difficult simply because no one really knew how to ski. And those new-fangled flat plastic sleds! It was always hit or miss with them. Sometimes they were great and other times horrible. Plus they often cracked. The saucers were fun, but you couldn't control the spinning and where you might end up.

Article Photos

John Sheda

After several hours of sledding, rolling in the snow, getting snow in our boots and when we all were just about frozen.....we were ready for a cup of hot chocolate and some warm clothes at home. But we had to time this just right so as to get a ride home. And sometimes in the excitement of preparing for an afternoon of sledding, we didn't even worry about that ride back. But now we did! A two mile walk pulling a sled when one is already frozen to the bone was no fun at all. But on our cell phones. Oh, that's right, it's still 1960--------NO CELL PHONES YET!!

The good news though was this------on highway 212, that little jaunt off hwy 30 usually was only traveled by people coming to or going from Chelsea. So, usually, it wasn't long before one of the local farmers would let us toss our sleds in the back and we'd huddle there too and get a ride home. Remember, it was a day and era when, like the TV show, Cheers, "Everyone knows your name." And before our toes completely froze off, we were home, putting on warm long-johns, socks and sweaters. But instead of hot chocolate, it was hot coffee at the Sheda household and plenty of "half & half."

One of these times, I'll tell you about our great Friday night skating parties, held at Zeman's Pond.

Until then, have a great week. And share one of your childhood memories of winter in Tama County with me at



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