The Fastest Sled in North Carolina
“It’s cold, Dad.”
“Come on. It’ll be worth it. This is the fastest sled in North Carolina.”
His mama put on his boots and coat and he followed me out to the garage. I pulled the attic stairs down and climbed up. I shuffled around some old camping equipment. Hm. I hadn’t seen that school desk in years. There was a bike or two, and then there it was: The old Yankee Clipper. I hauled it down the stairs.
“Boy, dad. It looks old.”
“Look, it’s broken.” He pointed to a cracked board. It was once wrapped with some electrician’s tape but it had long since unraveled. “Maybe we better go get a new one,” Tommy said.
“No, no. It’ll be fine. When I was a boy we couldn’t get a new one when it broke; we had to fix it up.” I opened the door to the house. “Mama? You got any duct tape!?” She brought me a roll, and I spliced the broken board like a Board Certified orthopedist. “See? Good as new.” He seemed skeptical but didn’t comment.
I scraped off the runners with steel wool, and slicked them down with candle wax. “Ready to race, boy.” He trudged up the hill behind me. “Yes sir, son,” I said. “This is the fastest sled in all of North Carolina. No one ever beat me when I raced it.”
We made it to the crest of the hill right by the Robert’s house. I stopped to catch my breath. Hm. It was a bigger grade than I remembered. “You wanna ride?”
“You go first, Dad.”
“Okay.” I tugged it back and forth like a guy on a bobsled team; just like I remembered as a kid. “Ah one and a two, and go…..”
I flung myself onto the old sled and the runners dug in all the way down to the dirt. It didn’t move forward even an inch, and threw me off the front end and into the snow.
“What’s wrong with it, Dad?”
I got up and dusted the snow off my jacket. “Uh …nothing… nothing. Here, you get on. I’ll push you to get started.”
The sled worked much better with a fifty pound kid than a two hundred pound man.
He rode for an hour. We took turns pulling it back up the hill. After a while we got cold, and headed back for the house. He tugged the sled home. “You’re right, Dad. This is a good sled. It’s the fastest one in North Carolina.”
“You take it son, I think I’m about too old to ride.”
I still have the Yankee Clipper in the attic. I might get it out and clean off the runners. I’ll let some of neighborhood kids ride it, but then I’ll put it up. Whenever I have a grandchild I don’t want them to miss a chance to ride the fastest sled in the state.
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