Boomer’s Journal: Winter games


Rachel and her dog, Buster, in 1965.


The winter games of our youth were most likely not looked upon as “death defying” yet, when you think about some of our shenanigans, well, we most likely wouldn’t want our kids or grandkids to do what we did.

We slid down hills toward barb wire. We tobogganed behind cars. We skied down farm pasture hills in old, wet, wool long-johns and our rubber buckle boots. We defied death on our aluminum flying saucers. We broke ground on new machines called snowmobiles.

And, we had the time of our lives. It was best if our folks didn’t know the whole story of any of our shenanigans.

My mom warned us many times before we headed out to the old pasture hill, the largest one on the farm. She had cut her lip on wire while sliding down a hill when she was a little girl. She had the scar to prove it, and she never hesitated to remind us of the dangers as we went outside on a cold winter day.


Rachel’s sister, Joanne Thronson, and best friend, Diane Olson, playing in the snow on the farm in the 1940s.


My cousin Jackie survived a slice across the top of her head after her and I sledded down Maurice’s hill. At the bottom, next to the barn, was the grain wagon. We ended up underneath it, and my cousin had a clean swipe at the top of her head to prove it. All I saw was blood.

Any time we gazed down our favorite sliding hill on the farm we saw barb wire. Oh well, we would know when to jump off the toboggan. No worries. Instead of worrying about barb wire, we worried more about the long trek back UP the hill after the stimulating ride down. We had more than one great hill to slide down…and our cousins had the best hills too…on Maurice’s and Willard’s farms. We were sweating and exhausted every time we re-climbed the hill, but we went right back down anyway. Right toward the death-defying barb wire. Over rocks and bumps and plowed chunks of frozen ground. We loved every minute.


Rachel’s sisters try out the new Ski-Doo snowmobile in 1969.


What about ice games? Growing into your brother’s or sister’s skates, getting those new-fangled rubber blade savers and marching down to the slough, skating to our heart’s content and pretending we were Sonja Henie or Peggy Fleming. It was the best.

My dad wrangled together an ice ride that rode like a fast carousel. It consisted of a post which was anchored in ice, with a long wood “arm” and sled on the end. You get the picture? That sled went round and round and round, faster and faster, as one or two skaters pushed the arm around the post, until the rider was ultimately thrown from the sled (often hitting the one nearby rock and then landing next to the barb wire fence, of course).

And, if that often prayed-for blizzard came, calling off school, snow days were filled with shoveling, but of course, with winter games as well. Did any of you jump off roofs? How many tunnels or forts did YOU build? Did any of you bury your brother or sister in snow? How about those endless snow ball fights and snowmen built?


Mardy Grussing photo of the girls riding on a toboggan behind a car in 1947.


How many of you have memories of riding the toboggan behind a car? Be honest now…share your stories!

Oh, the days. Those old days of our own created fun and frolic during Minnesota winters. I wouldn’t change a thing, including the barb wire.

#IceSkates #MinnesotaWinters #toboggan #WinterGames

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