Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sledding Down Broadway

The forecast is calling for a good chance of snow through the weekend. Are you going sledding?

Sledding in frontier Montana was a lively sport enjoyed by boys and men wherever there was snow and a hill. They built sleds in all shapes and sizes, painted them in bright colors, and gave them fanciful names. But Mary Ronan in her reminiscence, Girl from the Gulches, recalls a very memorable adventure she had on Christmas Eve 1864 on a vehicle that was entirely makeshift. Sledding was a sport absolutely forbidden to girls. Even on discreet sidestreets, it was not regarded as a ladylike activity since long skirts and petticoats and coasting downhill didn’t mix. An accident, upending a young lady, could ruin her reputation forever.  On this memorable Christmas Eve, Mary and her friends brought evergreens to the Catholic church that stood on Catholic Hill, where the Tower Hill Apartments on South Ewing Street are today. The sun was about to set when the young people were finished decorating. They came out into the frosty air. Charlie Curtis took hold of one of the branches of a large fir tree they had cut. He invited Mary to step aboard and to coast down Broadway. Without a moment’s hesitation, she stepped on one of the thick branches. A young man on each side took her hand to steady her. Charlie pulled the tree into the street, hopped on, pushed off and away they went with Mary and Charlie hanging onto the sturdy branches. The cold wind rushed past as they flew down the hill. For Mary, that forbidden ride was an exhilarating adventure she never forgot, and the best Christmas present ever.

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