Winter Fun

by Harry T. Roman


As my snow shovel scrapes across the driveway in this whopper of a late Fall snowstorm, I hear my doctor talking to me at my last visit

“Harry, you will soon be 55. Don’t you think you should have a stress test?”

“You want to see a stress test, come to work with me tomorrow morning!”

“I am serious. These kinds of tests are important.”

“I get an annual stress test every time I shovel deep snow off my 75 foot driveway; dig the car out; and clean my sidewalks and front stairs. I had 6 stress tests last year. Passed them all. Can your test beat that exertion?”

“Well no, it cannot. You don’t get winded or have chest pains?”

“Sure I get winded, but I rest and do it all over again when the snow piles up in a couple of hours. No chest pains, Doc, just a little soreness for a day or two and then I am my lovable old self again.”

“Well at least think about the stress test.”

“Oh yeah that’s just what I want, to be caught up in the medical system where each inconclusive test leads to yet another, until somebody finds something off by a gnat’s hair; and then I am immersed in endless uncertainty and worry. Why take a stress test to get stressed?”

“Now don’t get you blood pressure up over it, just consider it.”

“OK I’ll think about it. Hey, since my birthday is coming up and it’s the big double nickel, don’t you think maybe I should get a gift, like maybe no charge for this visit?”

“Would you like some anesthetic-free surgery? I have a several specials this week.”

“Doc, ever think of taking a stress test?”

I chuckle to myself as I shovel my way along the driveway toward the front porch, where our Christmas lights are illuminating the falling snow, reflecting brightly off it. I was kind of lazy about putting them up this year, but now glad I did. There is nothing like a little snow to pump up the Holiday ambiance.

As I pause to rest at the top of my driveway, just before it slopes rather steeply toward the street, I hear the distant squeals of kids…. obviously enjoying themselves in a nearby park. Looking down the driveway, I feel the tug of those Old Newark memories.


Sledding down a hill in Branch Brook park on whatever we could find around the backyard, now that was fun. An old, inflated, truck tire inner tube was usually a bouncy, tooth-rattling ride, often ending with a resounding “Blam” when it finally gave way. Or maybe it was five guys lying flat on a sled whose runners were bowed out as it made its uncontrollable way downhill, giggling youth spilling off along the slope.

You could use an old canvas swimming pool raft too. Get a bunch of “yahoos” on that baby and push off into oblivion. Kids bouncing loose all over the place as it wobbles and wiggles all the way down. No “Blam” with those, usually just a slow leak and then flat-city. Even used the flat carcass for a cheap thrill.

You could always sit straight up on a sled and try and steer with your feet. I have seen guys get launched like catapults from that death-wish position if they hit something or stopped suddenly on a snow worn piece of dirt. Newton’s laws of motion apply in the snow--- bodies in motion tend to stay in motion.

Every year some kid would just grab an old rusty sled, run and leap onto it to enjoy the most starting surprise of his young life. Rusty runners usually don’t slide very well, and the sled doesn’t go anywhere; but the kid does, straight off the front, into a face full of snow. Newton again. Happens like that too if the snow isn’t packed down enough.

Garbage can lids were always good for spinning, whirling, out-of-control descents. It was usually best to launch an entire armada of “spinners” at once so as to maximize the potential for collisions and pile-ups….

“Get the little kids off the hill!”

“Here they come!”

Bumper cars on snow. The carnage was always delightful as Newton once again conserved the laws of momentum. So much physics can be learned in the snow.

In our quest for downhill speed, no close-at-hand materials were left unexplored. In a pinch, there was always that old standby. A cardboard box, or a flat piece of it, could deliver a memorable ride. But it was rather bruising if the snow had become icy. Just don’t let it sit in the snow and get soaked, because then it became like the rusty runners of a sled.

Who needs an Olympic downhill ski jump, or bobsled run? Ever see a crew of kids get airborne in an old beat up or homemade toboggan? The landing is never pretty, usually resulting in destruction of the vehicle, followed by uncontrollable laughing of the occupants.

I remember landing in a ditch one time in just such a contraption, after the whole shebang rolled over—it was either roll over or risk zooming across a busy street. We chose the crash option. From the top of the hill, I am told, that all anyone saw was four pairs of legs pointing skyward. I laughed so hard I couldn’t right myself. Our lead man on the team was completely covered in snow he had accumulated on the downward run. The whole hill full of kids was laughing as they dug us out. Best run of the day.

After playing on snowy park slopes, I enjoyed the walk back home to dinner. The Holiday house lights were always on, the stores along Bloomfield Avenue were all lit up, and the snow might even be falling again. You could see Christmas trees in front windows, twinkling and bright.

For the first time, your hands and feet started to feel cold, as you walked faster toward home, and mom’s glorious kitchen. Your old dog would bark and yelp as you came in, stealing gloves and romping around…..

“You take those boots off outside in the hall mister. Dad will be home any minute. Get washed up and ready for dinner!”

“Yes mom. What’s for dinner?”

“Spaghetti and meatballs.”

“Jackpot!!” you think to yourself.


The wind has picked up, and the sleet mixed in with the falling snow is stinging my face.

Who needs a stress test?

The blue plastic garbage can lid will do just fine.

I’m feeling lucky.

I can take this driveway.


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