The Sled King

We had only recently moved to Klamath, California in 1964, coming from Mather Air Force Base, in Sacramento. My family arrived following the devastating tsunami that slammed into the North Coast, but before the massive flooding caused by endless days of rain along the coast and foot-after-foot of snowfall in the mountains.

It was either late November or very early December when my folks got permission to cross the Klamath River, via ferry to go see family in Humboldt County.  One had to get permission for personal travel then because of all the damage to the roadways throughout the area.

During this visit, I recall stopping at my grandparent’s home on Rohnerville Road in Fortuna, before heading further south to my cousin’s home in the Compton Heights area. We ended up spending the night at my Aunt Barbara and Uncle Adam’s house, sleeping in the back bedroom with our male cousins.

At some point during the weekend we all packed up – I say ‘all’ to include my aunt and uncle, my cousins Dan, Pam, Steve and Kathy, my folks, my brother Adam and me – and headed for the snowy hills of Mad River.  Uncle Luke, Aunt Daisy and their kids, also my cousins, followed along behind us.

Somewhere along the way, my dad must’ve bragged about how he grew up in the snows of Iowa as a boy and Uncle Adam got tired of it and challenged him. This ‘challenge’ involved Uncle Adam dragging Dad behind Adam’s jeep while my dad laid atop a vehicle’s hood, turned make-shift sled.

As the story goes – and I heard it a few times while sitting at my aunt and uncle’s dinner table – Uncle Adam gunned the Jeep around one corner to the next, trying his best to knock his brother-in-law off the hood. I do recall seeing Dad slide up an embankment and as he came down to the roadway, flipping over under the sled, only to disappear off the road on the other side, which was a downhill slope, to finally coming back onto the snow-covered roadway in the upright position.

Gladly, the situation didn’t last too long as Uncle Adam lost control of the Jeep and ended up crashing it off the side of the road. We kids, crammed in the back, scrambled out and up the embankment, while my Aunt Barbara gave Adam hell for being such an ‘ass.’

Soon afterwards, Uncle Luke and his posse arrived, and together, my dad and both uncle’s set about hauling the Jeep back up onto the roadway. Once done, my dad got into Luke’s vehicle because it had a heater as Dad was ‘soaking wet and half-frozen to the bone.’

We continued on with our enjoyable family outing, save for the hell Aunt Barbara continued to give Uncle Adam, while we kid’s sat there, listening as the snow disappeared beneath the Jeep. Later, we concluded, and Uncle Adam had to concede, that Dad was the ‘undisputed sledding King,’ as he never came off the hood.