Column: I remember “ice skating’’ on the farm pond

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Columnist Ceil Abbott

The other day I watched a movie about a young girl who was an excellent ice skater and how hard she had to work to achieve her goal leading her team to the state championships.

I, too, used to ice skate as a child, and although there never was any danger of me being a champion, the way my brothers and sisters and I performed on the ice did create some great memories.

Every winter as the temperature dropped closer and closer to that zero degree mark, the ice would begin to form on the two large stock ponds on our family farm. The largest of those ponds was very deep and fed by a spring. Because the water in that pond was constantly moving the ice rarely got thick enough to be safe and we forbidden from going there, but the other pond was shallow and fed by runoff from the nearby hills and by January, the ice covering it was usually eight or 10 inches thick and made for great skating.

Because we didn’t have much money, mom and dad was never able to purchase a new pair of skates for each of us kids, but what we did have was a single pair of boys skates which I’m pretty sure dad bought at an auction for 50 cents or so.

Still, cheap and used as they were, I remember those skates very fondly.

I’m not sure what size they were, but I do know that by the time we were nine or 10 years old they fit us pretty well, with a little help from some newspaper stuffed in the toes. And, by the time we reached 12 or 13 we could no longer squeeze our feet into them. Still we had a lot of fun during the two or three years we managed to get them on.

Back in those days, when the temperature dropped below freezing for two or three days in a row mom would send dad out to test the ice on the pond and, if it were thick enough to be safe, would allow us to spend the afternoon pretending we had the skills as one of our movie heroines, Sonja Henie.

The first thing we did when we arrived at the pond was sweep the ice clear of snow then polish the surface with couple of feed sacks until it gleamed, then which ever one of the older kids was in charge would lay out the order in which we were to take turns trying out our skills on the ice.

Each person was allotted a 15 or 20-minute turn while the rest of us looked on in envy.

Once we donned the skates the first few minutes were usually a pretty wobbly proposition, punctuated by a fall or two, but once we mastered staying on our feet and moving safely across the ice, there wasn’t one of us who didn’t attempt to emulate Sonja by trying a spin or jump.

I don’t remember any broken bones that resulted from those attempts, but there were some pretty colorful bruises.

I’m don’t know what eventually happened to those skates, no doubt they simply wore out from overuse. But, in the long run their fate was of little consequence anyway since no matter how hard we tried none of us ever achieved their expertise to pose a threat to Sonja’s reign as the Olympic champion and I double every much if any of us would have even qualified for a team, let alone a championship one.

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