Thursday, January 23, 2014

Skitchin' a Ride

The other day my niece posted this photo of her boys. They have their own snowmobiles. Do you know how damn happy I would have been to have had something like that when I was a  kid? We had to settle for a hand-me-down sled that we would go plummeting down a steep hill on. Our other option on that hill was an aluminum disc with straps. You would teeter on the lip of the hill and with the help of another kid you would get shoved over and down, twisting and turning out of control while the trees on either side zipped by. I've gone back to that hill since I grew up. I remembered it as being fifty feet high with an almost vertical drop. What it actually was, was a gently sloping incline that topped out just about eye level. As we got older, that hill faded from our attention and we turned to more exciting ways of playing in the snow. Back then most of the streets never saw a snow plow unless the snow topped six inches, and a salt truck was unheard of. This allowed the snow on the streets to get packed into a hard, slick surface. In those days, if a kid wanted to get around quickly, he would skitch a ride. Skitching a ride involves running out onto the street as a car goes by, and grabbing onto the car's bumper while crouching down. The trick was to not let the driver see you doing this, and to hope the car didn't pass over a dry spot or stop too suddenly. School buses were the best for this kind of activity, but also were the most dangerous when they slammed on the brakes. I guess I am getting a little too nostalgic for winter weather. Not for me maybe, but for my family who still lives where it snows and freezes for half the year. 


  1. Come for a visit. I just got finished shoveling 12 inches of snow and sliding into the back of a lady's car on an unplowed hill trying to get home before the storm hit. (No damage to my car thank goodness...hopefully she will say the same) F*ck this winter...

    Oh...we used lunch trays when we were little.

  2. Alan, The skitchin trick was well planned event in my northside Chicago neighborhood in the 1960s. There were two tactical manuvers and at least two or more participants. One kid would distract the driver to slow him down. Our favorite wsy was to pretent to have a snowball fight across the road. The car driving by would get hit. The driver would then stop the car, roll down the window and scream at us. Meanwhile other kid(s) would line up on the back bumper. Who ever fell off last was the winner.

    1. 1960's era Northsider here also and skitching was our favorite wintertime sport. Nothing else even came close. On Saturday mornings we'd skitch from 8:00am until Noon, go home, dry off, have lunch and then go catch a double horror or James Bond feature matinee at The Commodore Theater on Albany & Irving Park. That corner is a strip mall now and none of the kids are allowed outside anyway. ;-(

  3. I remember going back to that sledding hill as an adult and being horrified at the number of trees! We had to be pretty good at steering that old wooden sled to avoid injury!!

  4. Would rather be where it's warmJanuary 25, 2014 at 5:28 PM

    I agree Hostess. F*ck this winter and every winter.