Timeless Winter Traditions: Ice Skating

By Mary Foor

Winter provides great opportunity for some memorable fun in the snow and cold, like sled riding, ice skating, and more. Some of my fondest memories are of my family coming together in the freezing cold temperatures to ice skate together. Back on the farm on Dively Road near Younts Station, night after night the wind would blow the snow and drift the roads shut. When winter really settled in with below zero temperatures that made the nights blistering cold, we knew that our neighbors on Rabbit Lane, Detwiler’s Pond, was ready. It was finally safe to skate!

We would start planning our night by calling our aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors and friends to meet at the frozen water that proved to cause us a lot of bruising til the morning. After we would bundle up the kids, ranging from 16 to 5 in age, to the extent of “The Christmas Story” kid (he couldn’t put his arms down) we would start down through the pasture behind our farmhouse.

Photo courtesy of Bobbi Jo Rose

As we pushed through the snow with our heavy boots, our five kids would have fun stepping on the frozen cow piles that we encountered on the way. Then we had to maneuver over or under the barbed wire fence, careful not to get snagged. We then would finally reach the pond! My father-in-law would meet us there and he would already have a fire started and the logs set up that sat around the fire, which provided us with a place to sit and lace up our skates. Those who didn’t have skates would “skate” in their boots. Back then, we would put bread bags in our boots to keep our feet from getting wet, an old-fashioned way of “waterproofing” our shoes!

Those winter nights provided a lot of free entertainment for our family. We would go from skating to sledding in the front of the farmhouse in our neighbor’s corn field. We would sled through the corn stubble which provided a lot more bruising, especially if you weren’t using a runner sled. Again, we would warm ourselves by the fire during a much needed break from digging our “bread bag boots” into the frozen snow to get back up the hill that only took us 45 seconds to slide down. It took us much longer to trod back up!

Courtesy of the Foor Family, from front: Bobbi Jo, Kandy, Cousin Tina & her dad, Bill and Pap Foor

When writing this story, I asked my now adult kids what they remembered the most. One remembers falling in but doesn’t remember who rescued him. They remember skating through the cow pasture once the snow melted and re-froze; playing ice hockey; and drinking hot chocolate and roasting marshmallows by the fire that Pap Foor built. One remembers belly laughing after they had fallen and tried to get back up, while their skates kept slipping out from under them. I, myself, remember finding a pair of double runner skates at Sears for my daughter, Bobbie Jo, one year for Christmas. The simplicity of it all is the best memory. I hope this winter season brings you the joy of simplicity, just like these winter memories bring to me.

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