The guys called it "Belly Woppin'",
the girls called it "Sleigh Riding" but no matter what
it was called, we did it every night that there was snow on the
The hills in most parts of Newark run from a high in the west
to a low in the east. This worked out just fine as it allowed most
neighborhoods to have at least one street good for "belly woppin'"
Following the evening meal most of the gang in our neighborhood
gathered on Nye Ave and Walcott Terrace (the high point of the hill)
to begin the night's festivities.
Some of the girls and the younger children had sleds with backs,
this allowed several people at a time to ride the sled in a sitting
position. Any male that rode down the hill while sitting was labeled
Boys would run with the sled held in front of them and then throw
the sled forward and down and fall on it - hence the term "belly
From Walcott Terrace we were able to ride down without a stop
through two intersections. How did we manage this feat without getting
killed by cross traffic - easy. Adults that lived in the houses
near the intersections would gather at the intersections armed with
flashlights and in some cases whistles. The adults stopped traffic
till there was a break in the sleigh riding. I can't recall anyone
being hit at an intersection, they must have done a great job.
I wonder how the same situation would be handled today.