90 Degree Turns

by kfrego

We always made the best of winter when living in Spokane. The weather was cold enough to get good snowfall, but warm enough to allow children to play outside most of the time. Every few weeks during the winter Spokane would get what was called chinook winds from the south and west. These warm winds would last a couple days and melt a lot of the snow. They were a welcome respite from the cold winter weather. Sometimes the chinook was followed by clear cold weather. Any snow or water remaining from the chinook would be transformed into thick hard crusts or ice. One of these cold snaps created a great adventure for the kids in our neighborhood, including our family.

Our street was fairly new and not paved. Directly behind our house was open and undeveloped for about two blocks. Beyond that was a steep drop down to the Spokane River. There were no homes within a couple blocks of the river for quite a distance upstream and down. At the end of each city block on our street was a small unimproved road from our street to the unimproved street which followed the river. Several blocks south of our house the unimproved streets going towards the river became increasingly sloped towards the river.

We didn’t have any good sliding places in our neighborhood. We were always pulling each other or the little kids on the sleds. One of the warm chinooks passed through and was followed by cold freezing temperatures. The sidewalks and streets were covered with ice and hard frozen snow. All the unimproved streets which didn’t get traffic were glare ice. It didn’t take long before all the kids in the neighborhood were gathered on one of these streets with their sleds. We would slide down the slope and make a ninety degree turn onto the unimproved road which followed the river. We all headed home late in the afternoon for supper. What a great day we had sliding.

We were still excited about our great day of sliding when Dad got home from work. He wasn’t familiar with where we had been sliding and asked me to show him the street. We parked at the top of the slope and walked to where the intersection at the bottom was in view. I had just spent the whole day sliding on this street. It didn’t appear dangerous when we were playing. Standing beside Dad looking down, the most prominent feature was the Spokane River, fifty feet past and below the intersection, where we had made ninety degree turns all day.

We probably deserved the spankings before supper……..but the loss of our sliding area hurt a lot more than the belt.