Kittenmania!

A Bakers Dozen of Cats

April 13, 2021

One of the things I look forward to each week is getting ‘show prep’ from my favorite Disc Jockey who also happens to be my brother. He sends interesting and humorous facts and events in advance of each Tuesday, providing me fun ideas for the particular date I need.

This week he shared the following for today, April 13. He writes:

“1969: An Australian Siamese cat named Blue Danielle had 13 kittens. It’s no longer a record, but it deserves honorable mention. The purring alone must have driven everyone crazy.”

Which got me wondering, what WAS the largest litter of kittens ever born?

When you really, really love kittens. Son and daughter with kittens Winky and Peop.

The record was set the very next year when a four year old Burmese cat named Taragone Antigone produced 19 kittens. Unfortunately, only 15 survived (14 males, one  female). I gleaned this information from a website called The Nest which also stated “Clementine, a mixed domestic shorthair gave birth to 15 (11 survived) in New York in 1976, and that same year a Siamese named Tikatoo had a litter of 15 in Canada.” (see link below)

The Infallible Wikipedia does not list the information on the largest litters, but helpfully details the, ahem, mating habits of felines. Perhaps the most interesting fact in that regard is this:

“Because ovulation is not always triggered by a single mating, females may not be impregnated by the first male with which they mate. Furthermore, cats are super fecund that is, a female may mate with more than one male when she is in heat, with the result that different kittens in a litter may have different fathers.”

Another interesting aspect is that cats are known to give birth to as many as three litters a year. With litters averaging from 3 to 9 kittens, it doesn’t take long to be overrun by cats. I should know.

My family’s kitten adventures began in December 1998 when our one and half year old cat, Purr, went into heat. It was a conscious decision on my part to let the cat do this as I knew that having a batch of kittens was highly desired, especially by my then 5 year old daughter.

As Purr’s big day approached, the excitement in the house grew. Then, one morning late in February 1999, the process began. Much to my daughter’s delight, she got to witness the birth event and immediately bonded with all four of the kittens.

Purr in the ‘nest’ my daughter prepared for her. The kittens were born shortly after.

It didn’t take long for each cat’s personality to shine through and the four were named: Kinky – the lone male – named for the crook in his tail; Winky – who had one eye which blinked independent of the other; Phantom – who had a half dark, half light face; and, finally, People Cat – so named because of her propensity to climb out of the box and love on whatever person was there.

Kittenmania took over. The cats lived in our large laundry room, kept inside by a baby gate once they started roaming. But soon they were all over the house and, especially, upstairs in the playroom or the kids’ rooms.

Since keeping five cats was not an option, at five weeks I’d moved fully into ‘find them a home’ mode but not before promising that we would keep ‘one’ of the kittens. My targets for people to adopt them were classmates of the kids and soon Winky left to be loved by a third grade girl and her family.

Phantom, it turned out, was not the right cat for us. She was afraid of everything: loud noises, sudden movement, and the other cats. Sudden incontinence was the response to these factors, so she needed a calm environment with an understanding owner. Her salvation was the veterinary assistant.

It looked as though Kinky would be our cat as my son’s teacher, Mrs. B., was all set to adopt Peop (as we had started calling her). But when Mrs. B’s husband objected, the adoption was off. I was secretly glad as Peop had become my personal assistant, supervising whenever I worked at my desk, and I wanted to keep her.

So our little family of three cats was set. Or so I thought.

One day in early April I had an appointment to have Mama Purr spayed. Then the unthinkable happened. She escaped the house and was gone for 24 hours. The last time that happened…

Purr looking beautiful and irresistible to the eligible bachelors

Yep. She was pregnant once again.

Purr got bigger and bigger and soon we were anxiously awaiting the new arrivals. She rejected Peop and Kinky (something which was true for the rest of her days) who moved upstairs to hang with the family and Purr stayed downstairs as she began the process of nesting once again.

Unfortunately, I had an out of town conference which took me away at the critical moment. With Grandma and Grandpa there to watch the kids we were all set.

Then on day two of the conference, a flurry of emails from my nine year old son announced the kittens’ arrival.

Peop helping the author with editing.

“Mom,” the first email proclaimed, “Purr has four kittens!”

I noticed a string of emails from him and clicked open the second, then the third, fourth and fifth emails.

“Now there are five!”

“Mom – there are six kittens!”

“Now there are seven!”

My stomach dropped as I counted three more emails in the thread. How many kittens did Purr just have? What were we going to do with all those kittens?!

I open the next email.

“Purr has eight kittens!” the email happily proclaimed.

It took every ounce of courage to open the next one.

“That’s all.”

I let out a shudder. While eight would be hard to manage I was thankful it had ended there.

Kinky wanted to be king of the household but Purr never let him usurp her throne.

When I arrived home the next day I found a moving mass of cats in the laundry room. Purr looked oh so pleased with herself.

Soon the reality of having ELEVEN cats in the house took over. The litter box for Mama and babies required cleaning every two hours. I took old vinyl tablecloths and turned them upside down in the laundry room to keep the carpet (who puts carpet in a laundry room? Asking for a friend) from getting urine soaked. Our house smelled like a cattery. Probably because it was.

When our niece came to visit, the kids ‘introduced’ her to the new kittens – three of which are shown here.

That summer all we did was manage cats and eventually were able to find homes for the crew, much to Purr’s dismay. And Purr? That randy lady did make it to the vet (as did Peop and Kinky) so that future, possibly record breaking, litters of kittens would not happen.

But had I known then that the record was 19 I totally think Purr could have broken it. Then she would have been famous and I would have had a nervous breakdown. It probably worked out for the best.

A couple of links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat

https://pets.thenest.com/record-number-kittens-born-one-litter-8346.html

The International Order of the Rainbow for Girls

April 6, 2021

99 years young

The official emblem of the Order

My mother in law has often said that the toughest job in the world is being a kid. Her argument being that kids have so much to learn and are faced with ever changing rules and expectations, that figuring it all out is a difficult job.

I would add, however, that it is the teenage years which are the most challenging for any young person. You take hundreds of puberty driven boys and girls and put them in giant Petri dish called school and, well, it’s a tough few years.

For many teenagers – if they are lucky – find their salvation through sports, music, other arts, or outdoor programs like Scouts. My saving activity was The International Order of the Rainbow for Girls. It was founded on April 6, 1922, now just one year short of its 100th anniversary.

Its beginnings were humble enough. A group of adults who belonged to the Mason and Eastern Star organizations in McAlester, Oklahoma, had learned of a group for teenage boys, The Order of DeMolay, and decided that they would start their own similar program but for girls.

At the time, it was vogue for such groups to have ceremonies of initiation as well as those which were followed to open and close their meetings. Thus it was a Methodist minister, the Reverend W. Mark Sexson, who wrote the ceremonies for the organization, basing them on the Biblical story of Noah, the great flood, and the rainbow of promise.

Each Assembly consists of 20 officers who include the president, known as the Worthy Advisor, and a set of four additional elected officers who, in succession, become Worthy Advisor. Additionally, there are a Secretary, Treasurer, Chaplain, Drill Leader, Musician and Choir Director. There are also seven officers who represent the seven colors of the rainbow and, finally, two officers who let people in and out during the meetings.

Fun activities such as a weekend at Potts of Gold – a Rainbow Camp on Hood Canal – make up the varied program.

For the record, I do consider myself an expert on the organization and was able to write all of the above without research. Even so, I was curious what the Infallible Wikipedia had to say on the subject. I discovered the following:

“The International Order of the Rainbow for Girls has Assemblies in 46 states in the United States as well as in several other countries. The states that do not currently have Assemblies are Delaware, Minnesota, Utah, and Wyoming.

The countries outside the United States that have assemblies are are Aruba, Australia (in Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia), Bolivia, Brazil (in Parana, São Paulo, Distrito Federal, Minas Gerais, Mato Grosso do Sul, Tocantins, Para, Espírito Santo and Santa Catarina, Canada (in Ontario and New Brunswick), the Philippines, Italy, Mexico, and Romania. Rainbow has had assemblies in the following countries, mostly due to American military presence: Cuba, Germany, France, Panama and Vietnam.

Its headquarters are at the International Temple in McAlester, Oklahoma built in 1950-1951 for the Order’s use.”

Over the years, the focus of the organization has changed. The early years were ones of expansion with the opening of more and more assemblies being the primary mission.

Community Service is a huge part of the organization’s focus. Here the girls’ are collecting donations for MEOW cat rescue.

By the 1940’s and WWII, the first indicators of a change of mission were seen with the members stepping up to aid in the war effort. After the war, the social aspects took precedence. The organization grew to its largest in the 1950’s boasting an international membership of over 250,000 girls. Today the group primarily emphasizes community service, public speaking, and personal development of the young women who are its members.

I became aware of the Rainbow Girls through my older sister who was invited to join by a friend. Off my sister would go to this mysterious place every two weeks and was often gone for activities on the weekend. So, like any self-respecting younger sister, I bugged her until she relented and brought home a membership application one day in March 1971.

It is a very distinct memory I have of sitting on the floor of my room, the sun streaming in the western window, as I filled out the paperwork. I was stumped when I got to the first blank.

“What’s the name and number of the Assembly?” I yelled to my sister in the next room.

“Yakima number one,” the shouted reply proclaimed.

Well, that’s cool, I thought. Who wouldn’t want to be in the number ONE assembly?*

I finished the application and it was turned in and then, one month later on April 19 I became a member. It was love at first sight. Everything about the Rainbow Girls appealed to me and played to my strengths (which were not sports, band, or wilderness survival!). It was Rainbow where I learned to plan and organize things; I loved being with just girls at a time in my life when boys were icky and awful. I got to hang out with older girls and adults who were patient in teaching me how to be a valuable member of a team. I had activities that were wholesome. Mostly, I seized every opportunity to improve myself, take on responsibility, and learn to be a leader.

In January of 1974 I was my Assembly’s Worthy Advisor and then repeated that job when one of the members had to step down in May 1975. I supported my sister when she became the president – the Grand Worthy Advisor – of the state level program for Washington and Idaho the next month. A year later I was selected to serve as the Editor of the jurisdiction newspaper and then subsequently elected to one of the top five jobs at the state level the next year, completing my time in the order.

My sister presents me to be installed as Worthy Advisor of Yakima Assembly #1, January 1974

Or so I thought. Over the next decades I found a multitude of ways to give back to the organization which gave me so much. I served as an adult advisor in a variety of capacities, motivated to insure Rainbow would be there for my own daughter when she arrived in those perilous teenage years. My stated mission was to successfully get her from childhood to adulthood in a safe place without falling prey to the many temptations modern society presents. In that mission I succeeded.

There’s a song which was written for the order and it has a line in it which is “Rainbow, you’ll always be mine.” For so many of the women I know who have belonged, this thought – more than any other – encapsulates just exactly how we feel about The International Order of the Rainbow For Girls.

My final meeting as Mother Advisor for Bellevue Assembly #120, January 2010

*Yakima was the first Assembly in the state of Washington, not the world. I plan to tell that story on August 3, 2021… so stay tuned.

A couple of links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Order_of_the_Rainbow_for_Girls

https://www.gorainbow.org/

www.nwrainbow.org

Answers to the Facebook questions:

Order of the DeMolay, now known as DeMolay International, was founded March 24, 1919 in Kansas City, Missouri

The Order of Jobs Daughters, now known as Jobs Daughters International, was founded October 20, 1920 in Omaha, Nebraska.

March 30, 1964

What is the date Jeopardy Premiered?

If I mention the names Don Pardo and Art Fleming, what’s the first thing you think of?

For anyone born after about 1975, it’s unlikely those names mean a thing to you. But if I add in the name Alex Trebek , nearly 100 percent of people will immediately say “Jeopardy!”

Art Fleming, the original host

Long before Trebek became the host, the first two were the memorable announcer and host, respectively, of Jeopardy which premiered as a daytime TV program on March 30, 1964.

The 1960’s was the golden age of TV game shows. Jeopardy joined seven other game shows already on the air that year including Let’s Make A Deal and The Price Is Right. Only Let’s Make A Deal has run continuously on TV longer, edging out Jeopardy by 3 months.

The show got its start thanks to iconic TV producer Merv Griffin. From the Infallible Wikipedia:

“In a 1963 Associated Press profile released shortly before the original Jeopardy! series premiered, Merv Griffin offered the following account of how he created the quiz show:

My wife Julann just came up with the idea one day when we were in a plane bringing us back to New York City from Duluth. I was mulling over game show ideas, when she noted that there had not been a successful ‘question and answer’ game on the air since the quiz show scandals. Why not do a switch, and give the answers to the contestant and let them come up with the question? She fired a couple of answers to me: ‘5,280’—and the question of course was ‘How many feet in a mile?’. Another was ’79 Wistful Vista’; that was Fibber and Mollie McGee’s address. I loved the idea, went straight to NBC with the idea, and they bought it without even looking at a pilot show.

Griffin’s first conception of the game used a board comprising ten categories with ten clues each, but after finding that this board could not easily be shown on camera, he reduced it to two rounds of thirty clues each, with five clues in each of six categories.] He originally intended requiring grammatically correct phrasing (e.g., only accepting ‘Who is …’ for a person), but after finding that grammatical correction slowed the game down, he decided to accept any correct response that was in question form. Griffin discarded his initial title of What’s the Question? when skeptical network executive Ed Vane rejected his original concept of the game, claiming, ‘It doesn’t have enough jeopardies.’

Announcer Don Pardo whose recognizable voice graced the airwaves for decades

The format of giving contestants the answers and requiring the questions had previously been used by the Gil Fates-hosted program CBS Television Quiz, which aired from July 1941 until May 1942.”

Of course the references in the above article highlight just how long ago Jeopardy got its start, especially the citation of Fibber McGee. But I digress.

I’m pretty sure I’ve watched Jeopardy pretty much since its beginnings. Now mind you, as a kid the only time I saw the program would have been during summer vacation or being home sick from school. Holding down the 11:30 a.m. spot on NBC made Jeopardy required TV for the ill child. Once lunch was over (soup and saltine crackers, no doubt) and the boring old news came on, it was time to sleep.

The other reason I know Jeopardy occupied my brain is that I still have the Fifth Edition Jeopardy Board Game which I’m pretty sure was either a birthday or Christmas present, likely around 1967.

Imagine a completely old school sort of game. The answer board cover is made from white indestructium.* There are white one inch square removable plastic tabs that cover the answers for each Jeopardy round. You know its old because the dollar amounts (printed in blue on the tabs) are $10, $20, $30, $40, and $50 for regular and double those numbers (in red) for the second round. Oh, and did I mention how they kept the answers ‘secret?’ By use of the always cool, see through red plastic used in kid’s decoder kits of the 1960’s.

My 1960 something game… the blue clicker is missing but everything else is there.

But the best part was by far the ‘buzzers’ used by the players when they knew the right question. In this case, however, ‘buzzer’ is a misnomer because the devices were frog style clickers in red, blue, yellow, and green. After a few games of vigorous use those clickers no longer clicked; our alternative was for the contestants to make a buzzing noise with their mouths which, you might imagine, led to some hilarity.

My friends and I loved the game. It’s actually in amazing shape considering the use it had. Or maybe I’m misremembering all the use and, perhaps, it was just me who was the complete trivia nerd. The game, after spending decades tucked away in my parents’ house, came back to me in the fall of 2019.

Over the years, however, Jeopardy continued to be a part of my life. In the 1980’s, after dinner, the hubby and I would often watch Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. The hubby seemed to know every Jeopardy answer and had it out before my brain had time to process. In fact, I often thought that the hubby should try out for Jeopardy.

His rapid trivia skills were passed down to the next generation as our daughter also loves Jeopardy and is really good at it. In fact, both her former roommate and fiancé (now her hubby) got to the point of not wanting to even watch Jeopardy with her because she seemed to know every answer and, like her father, was very fast.

After she moved in the spring of 2020 and no longer had cable TV, she mostly quit watching. Some of the joy of the show, no doubt, was lost with the passing of Alex Trebek. She did admit that a couple of the ‘tryout’ hosts were pretty good.

Alex Trebek

“I need my Jeopardy host to be pretty dry in their delivery,” she told me.

I think any Jeopardy fan hopes that a worthy replacement will be found for Trebek ; one who will assure that the 57 year tradition that is Jeopardy will continue for years and generations to come.

Now, for those who want to play, here’s the final Jeopardy answer for today’s Tuesday Newsday: 22. Be sure to post your answer in the comments section below!

* Indestructium is a word coined by the hubby to describe any linoleum or plastic manufactured in the 20th century which is basically impossible to damage or destroy.

The Infallible Wikipedia links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeopardy!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_longest-running_American_television_series

Otis Elevators

‘Get Out’

March 23, 2021

I have buttons but I’m not a shirt
I have doors but I’m not a house
I go up and down but I’m not an umbrella
I need at least two stories but I’m not a book of fairytales
I’m found in tall buildings but I’m not a penthouse

What am I?

The first commercial Passenger Elevator 1857

I’ll even add one more clue… I was first installed into a commercial building on March 23, 1857.

The answer, of course, is an elevator.

It’s a device which makes high rise buildings possible and literally changed the urban landscape. The story, however, began five years earlier when inventor Elisha Otis developed a freight elevator that remained stable even if its ropes were cut.

The Infallible Wikipedia tells us:

“At the age of 40, while he was cleaning up the factory, he wondered how he could get all the old debris up to the upper levels of the factory. He had heard of hoisting platforms, but these often broke, and he was unwilling to take the risks. He and his sons, who were also tinkerers, designed their own ‘safety elevator’ and tested it successfully. He initially thought so little of it he neither patented it nor requested a bonus from his superiors for it, nor did he try to sell it. After having made several sales, and after the bedstead factory declined, Otis took the opportunity to make an elevator company out of it, initially called Union Elevator Works and later Otis Brothers & Co.

No orders came to him over the next several months, but soon after, the 1853 New York World’s Fair offered a great chance at publicity. At the New York Crystal Palace, Otis amazed a crowd when he ordered the only rope holding the platform on which he was standing cut. The rope was severed by an axeman, and the platform fell only a few inches before coming to a halt. The safety locking mechanism had worked, and people gained greater willingness to ride in traction elevators; these elevators quickly became the type in most common usage and helped make present-day skyscrapers possible.

After the World’s Fair, Otis received continuous orders, doubling each year. He developed different types of engines, like a three-way steam valve engine, which could transition the elevator between up and down, and quickly stop it.”

The Otis Elevator company endures to this day, now a $13 billion a year company which employs some 64,000 people.

As a child, getting to ride on an elevator was an event. Although I cannot recall my very first ride I would venture to guess that it might have been the Space Needle elevator during the 1962 World’s Fair. That elevator is particularly memorable as you get to watch, through the windows, as the world below grow smaller during your 500 foot ascent in just 41 seconds.

Most modern elevators have sleek doors which slide open and close and then almost imperceptibly take you to your destination floor. There are, however, some older elevators which exist that hearken back to a different era when having a job as an elevator operator was a thing. I had the 1940’s experience back in the 1970’s one night at the old Masonic Temple in downtown Tacoma. There for a dance which took place on the fifth floor, I recall stepping up to elevator which was caged behind an accordion grid. When the car arrived and the doors opened, a grumpy looking older man – the operator – opened the grid and motioned us in to the car for our ride to the fifth floor. There was something elegant about that ride; a civility and protocol lost to later generations.

But perhaps the most memorable elevator belongs to the tallest building in Seattle: the Columbia Center.

The Columbia Center, Seattle

Also from the Infallible Wikipedia:

“The 76-story structure is the tallest building in Seattle and the state of Washington, reaching a height of 933 ft (284 m). At the time of its completion, the Columbia Center was the tallest structure on the West Coast; as of 2017 it is the fourth-tallest, behind buildings in Los Angeles and San Francisco.”

The tower, which was completed in 1985, boasts 48 elevators!

The company the hubby worked for in 1989 rented office space on floor 67, just nine floors below the very top of the building. Needless to say, riding one of those 48 elevators was a necessity.

As it turned out, it actually took riding on three different elevators to travel from the garage to floor 67. On any number of occasions when I visited the hubby there, I always enjoyed the dizzying and panoramic views of Elliot Bay to the west from his office.

But it was the elevator ride one day which provided the most amusement. As you might imagine from a building of that size it was easy to get confused as to what floor you were on and where you needed to be to get where you needed to go. Thankfully, a calming elevator voice would announce the floors as you arrived so that you didn’t exit sooner than you should.

We were on the descent to the lobby level this particular day. When the doors opened I startled at the gentle female voice which intoned ‘Get Out.’

Of course we did as directed and then, as we stood outside the elevator, I said to the hubby, “Did the elevator just tell us to ‘Get Out?’”

One of the 48 elevators in the Columbia Center

I think we determined the elevator was announcing the name of the street closest to where we had landed. But it didn’t matter. From that moment on whenever I visited at the Columbia Center I looked forward to the elevator voice as I arrived in the lobby telling me to ‘Get Out.’

It’s become one of our go to phrases whenever we take an elevator, always providing a bit of levity. I have a hard time imagining those old timey operators speaking to a passenger in such a way; on second thought I conjure up the image of that grizzled old guy from the Tacoma Masonic Temple and figure he’d have no problem telling rambunctious twenty year olds precisely that.

Links for your exploring pleasure:

https://www.riddlesandanswers.com/tag/elevator-riddles/#ixzz6prD1Mw4c

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elisha_Otis

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masonic_Temple_Building-Temple_Theater#:~:text=The%20Landmark%20Convention%20Center%20in%20Tacoma%2C%20Washington%20%28Historically,the%20National%20Register%20of%20Historic%20Places%20in%201993.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbia_Center

Answer to the FB question: The building pictured is the One World Trade Center in New York city. It requires all 73 of its elevators to reach all 1, 776 feet of height, no doubt.

Daylight Savings Time

Spring Ahead

March 16, 2021

Early Daylight Savings Time was promoted as being Patriotic

Standardization of time really began to plague the world with the advent of the train. Prior to then, society was largely agrarian with people waking at sunrise and retiring at sunset.

But with transportation that could take travelers hundreds of miles over the course of a single day, problems with lack of a standard time arose. When they said the train would arrive at 3 p.m. was that 3 p.m. in New York City or 3 p.m. in Chicago?

The first such standardization was established in Great Britain in 1847 and spread from there. In the United States it was on November 18, 1883 when the first coordinated efforts were established. This system was in effect until March 1919 when someone got the bright idea for ‘Daylight Savings Time (DST).’

Of course the Infallible Wikipedia has articles in regards to this event:

“During World War I, in an effort to conserve fuel, Germany began observing DST on May 1, 1916. The rest of Europe soon followed. The plan was not adopted in the United States until the Standard Time Act of March 19, 1918, which confirmed the existing standard time zone system and set summer DST to begin on March 31, 1918 (reverting October 27). The idea was unpopular, especially with farmers. In fact, Daylight Saving Time meant they had less time in the morning to get their milk and harvested crops to market. Congress abolished DST after the war, overriding President Woodrow Wilson’s veto. DST became a local option. New York City continued to observe a metropolitan DST, while rural areas outside the city did not.”

Everyone went back to standard time but then another war came and on February 9, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted year round ‘war time.’ It was just a more patriotic name for year round DST. When the war ended a number of states liked DST and adopted summertime DST.

Also from the Infallible Wikipedia:

“From 1945 to 1966 there was no federal law on daylight saving time, so localities could choose when it began and ended or drop it entirely. What emerged was a complicated patchwork of daylight saving policies that varied in length and by city, state and municipality. As of 1954, only California and Nevada had statewide DST west of the Mississippi, and only a few cities between Nevada and St. Louis. In the 1964 Official Railway Guide, 21 of the 48 contiguous states had no DST anywhere. By 1965, there were 18 states that observed daylight saving for six months each year, 18 states that didn’t have formal policies but held cities or towns with their own daylight saving standards and another 12 states that didn’t implement daylight saving at all.”

The first Daylight Savings clock is set ahead one hour on March 31, 1918

It was a complete mess. Enter the US Congress and the Uniform Time Act of 1966. Basically the law established DST to run from the last Sunday of April to the last Sunday of October for all 50 states. There were rules regarding when and how states could opt out of the program, but for the most part the majority of the states went along with it.

Over the years, it has been the norm to move the clocks ahead in the spring and change them back in the fall. In recent years, more and more people have been clamoring for picking ‘one’ time and doing away with the sleep disrupting prospect of time change.

In the past six years, more than 30 states have officially advocated for the option of year round DST. And why not? The US is no longer a primarily agrarian society but, rather, a 24/7 civilization thanks to a stable power grid and technology that never sleeps. Morning daylight is not required to function.

In my home state, the lawmakers took it one step further. One more Wikipedia reference:

“In 2019, the Washington State Legislature passed Substitute House Bill 1196, which would establish year-round observation of daylight saving time contingent on the United States Congress amending federal law to authorize states to observe daylight saving time year-round.”

We here in Washington are still waiting for Congress to act on it.

Which is why, this fine Tuesday, the 16th of March, following the mad dash to reset millions of clocks, millions of people are struggling to adjust to that hour of lost sleep and working to reset their internal clocks to DST.

I guess the good thing about getting older has been that my sleeping habits are such that the switch to and from DST no longer upsets my schedule quite so badly. These days I seem to sleep for about 6 to 6 ½ hours a night no matter what. I don’t like it particularly and when I get a 7 hour stretch enjoy it for the gift it is.

This year the transition was the easiest ever. I went to sleep around eleven standard time on Saturday night and woke up at six (DST) on Sunday. The whole day ended up being a busy one without a nap and by the time bedtime rolled around, I was adjusted.

Of course I would prefer to not wake up at 4 or 5 a.m. with my brain fully engaged in trying to solve life’s challenges, but on Monday morning it did give me time to contemplate DST and what exactly I was going to write about for this week’s Tuesday Newsday.

Cartoon by Keefe Chamberlain @ http://www.nergon.com

For all you fellow geeks out there, here’s the link to Wikipedia and the history of time:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_time

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daylight_saving_time_in_the_United_States

EEE 161 Rides Again

The Ford Mustang, redux

March 9, 2021

It was on March 9, 1964 when the first Mustang automobile rolled off the assembly line at Ford Motor company’s Dearborn, Michigan plant. Today, the Mustang continues as one of the best selling and most popular cars ever produced by Ford.

For those who have been reading my blog for several years, you may recall that three years ago I posted about the 1965 Mustang here: https://barbaradevore.com/2018/04/17/1965-ford-mustang/

Today’s Tuesday Newsday is going to be a bit of a departure, as I have nothing particularly new from the Infallible Wikipedia to share on this topic. You can, of course, go there and read up on everything you might hope to learn about the Mustang.

1965 White Mustang convertible

What I do know is that the Mustang was a huge hit from the day it launched and has spawned clubs for owners, like the Mustang Club of America, matchbox cars, models, and an almost cult like following for the distinctively designed vehicle.

As with the Volkswagen beetle, or the Porsche, or the Corvette, the Mustang’s of the 1960’s are instantly recognizable and highly collectible.

While the majority of the early Mustangs have ended up in junk yards and recycled, some have been lucky enough to survive down through the years. This is the story of one such Mustang.

We pick up the story of the Mustang my Dad purchased slightly used circa 1966. It is now July 11, 2020 and my father has been gone just over 10 months. Despite being in the middle of the Covid Pandemic, I have estate business to tend to and have traveled to Yakima and am staying with my sister. Her home is situated in the middle of apple, cherry, and pear orchards just west of Selah – a smaller city four miles north of Yakima. Yakima County boasts a population of just under 250,000 people so it is not huge, but is certainly not small either.

On this particular Saturday it’s sunny and warm with a high in the low 90’s. In the mid-afternoon the two of us drive down into Selah with a load of items to be donated to Goodwill. From there we head south to a Safeway store in Yakima for a few dinner items. Our intended route is actually a big circle as we head to her place via the ‘back’ way which is to travel west on highway 12, then north on Old Naches Highway, and finally head east up Mapleway Road.

My sister is driving and we are, as is our nature, chatting away. Just as we reach the crest the hill I notice a white convertible about 500 yards ahead of us. It’s distinctive Mustang back end causes me to blurt out, “Look, it’s Dad’s car.”

A wave of nostalgia washes over me. Oh those summers when we drove around with that black rag top down, flirting with boys during forbidden runs up and down Yakima Avenue, not a care in the world with real life still a few years away.

A moment in time captured…. it was May 28, 1973. My sister (in the purple), my best friend Pam, and me were headed out early that morning to take the Mustang to the Yakima Memorial Day parade. We belonged to the Rainbow Girls and were riding in the parade. Also in the photo are my Mom supervising and my Dad working to put the cover over the stored top.

Of course, I didn’t really think it WAS my dad’s car. After all, he had sold the car in the 1980’s and the family lost track of it over the years. Realistically, what were the chances the car still existed? Even so, I urged my sister to get a little closer so we could at least see the license plate. She obliged and I strained my eyes to make out the letters and numbers.

EEE 161.*

“It IS dad’s car!” I exclaim. “Follow him!”

The Mustang, now at a stop sign where the main road goes right, turns. A minute later we are at the same spot and also turn right. A minute after that, we sail past the road which leads to my sister’s house and are headed back down into Selah, retracing our route from earlier.

On we go, now in hot pursuit of Dad’s car.

“I want to talk to him,” I tell her. From behind we can tell it’s a middle aged man sporting a baseball cap driving the car.

We travel past the school, city hall, the bank, the telephone company, and turn north on Wenas Road. My eyes are fixed on the Mustang wondering just how far he’s going to drive. From my perspective, it didn’t matter. Catching up with him was my goal; being with the car once again important somehow.

My sister pulls into the left lane to try and get up next to the car but then the driver signals a right turn into the parking lot of the True Value hardware store. We sail past.

It takes us several minutes to get turned around but at last we pull up next to the parked – and now empty – car and wait for the driver to return.

Not wanting to be creepy or draw suspicion, I force myself to sit and wait. And wait. And, after five interminable minutes our quarry emerges from the store headed to his car which was once my Dad’s car.

I climb out of the passenger seat of my sister’s vehicle and step forward, catching his attention.

“This will be the weirdest conversation you’ve had all week,” I say and then continue, “But this was my Dad’s car.”

“Really? He must have sold it to my Mom back in the early 1980’s. What was his name?”

“Vincent DeVore. I’ve never forgiven him for selling it.”

This elicits a chuckle. I forge on. “Unfortunately my dad passed at the end of October. But I think it would please him to see what great shape the Mustang is in.”

“I’m sorry about your Dad. My mom died in December. The car was stored in her garage until January when it came to me.  She had the leather seats recovered and the whole thing has been repainted. She used to take it to the classic car shows. She loved this car.”

“It looks amazing,” I say and mean it.

“Yeah. I learned to drive in this car,” he says and to which I reply, “So did I! It was the best.”

What then followed was the snapping of a couple of photos of both my sister and I with the car. We also learned that he lives less than a mile from my sister and is the neighbor of my brother-in-law’s best friend. And that day was the first day he’d had the car out and driving around with the top down, reliving just for a short time, his sweet teenage memories in the car of his – and my youth.

My sister enjoying being reunited with EEE 161.
Maybe next time I’ll get to sit in the car once again

As for me, it was only one of several surreal events following my Dad’s death. In a way I found it comforting and, every once in a while, am reminded that even though Dad is gone, his spirit lives on.

*In 1958, license plates in Washington were assigned by county. All plates in Yakima County started with the letter “E.” The Mustang’s plate was likely issued new with the car in 1965. Visit this website for how this all worked. http://staff.washington.edu/islade/counties/index.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Mustang

Mount Rainier

The Mountain Is Out

March 2, 2021

The Mountain Is Out.

These four words, for anyone who grew up or has lived in the Greater Puget Sound region, mean but one thing: it’s a clear day and from all vantage points, one can see Mount Rainier.

Photo taken by the author one cold January 1980 morning near Graham, Washington

Of all the natural features which define Washington State it is, arguably, Mount Rainier which is most associated with the state. And is it any wonder? At 14,411 feet it is one of the highest peaks in the United States. What gives Mt. Rainier its prominence, literally, is the fact that you can see an uninterrupted 13,210 feet of the volcano, making it the largest mountain in the contiguous 48 United States and the fourth largest mountain on the North American continent.

It was on March 2, 1899, when Mount Rainier National Park was established as the nation’s fourth national park (after Yellowstone, Sequoia, and Yosemite).

My parents on the White Pass ski lift headed up for a hike.

The Infallible Wikipedia provides us with some fascinating geologic facts:

“Mount Rainier is a stratovolcano in the Cascade Volcanic Arc that consists of lava flows, debris flows, and pyroclastic ejecta and flows. Its early volcanic deposits are estimated at more than 840,000 years old and are part of the Lily Formation (about 2.9 million to 840,000 years ago). The early deposits formed a ‘proto-Rainier’ or an ancestral cone prior to the present-day cone. The present cone is more than 500,000 years old.

The volcano is highly eroded, with glaciers on its slopes, and appears to be made mostly of andesite. Rainier likely once stood even higher than today at about 16,000 ft (4,900 m) before a major debris avalanche and the resulting Osceola Mudflow approximately 5,000 years ago. In the past, Rainier has had large debris avalanches, and has also produced enormous lahars (volcanic mudflows), due to the large amount of glacial ice present. Its lahars have reached all the way to Puget Sound, a distance of more than 30 mi (48 km).

The hole in the middle is the entry to the Paradise Ice Caves

Around 5,000 years ago, a large chunk of the volcano slid away and that debris avalanche helped to produce the massive Osceola Mudflow, which went all the way to the site of present-day Tacoma and south Seattle. This massive avalanche of rock and ice removed the top 1,600 ft (500 m) of Rainier, bringing its height down to around 14,100 ft (4,300 m). About 530 to 550 years ago, the Electron Mudflow occurred, although this was not as large-scale as the Osceola Mudflow.

After the major collapse approximately 5,000 years ago, subsequent eruptions of lava and tephra built up the modern summit cone until about as recently as 1,000 years ago. As many as 11 Holocene tephra layers have been found.

In the world of geology, a thousand years is like a blink of the eye. Which is one reason why Mount Rainier is one of 16 mountains worldwide known as ‘Decade Volcanoes.’ To put it succinctly, it means that these volcanoes have given indications that they are likely to erupt AND they are located in areas where an eruption would no doubt result in catastrophic property destruction and/or a large loss of life. 

With my parents at the Paradise Ice Caves early 1980’s

That could mean that we will witness such an eruption of Mt. Rainier in our lifetime or, perhaps, it will be hundreds of years from now.

It’s hard to imagine Mt. Rainier as being any different than how it’s been during my lifetime. I simply cannot recall a time when I did not know of it. Perhaps my earliest memory would be on a trip from Yakima to Long Beach, Washington with my family including my grandmother – my Dad’s mother – in the 1960’s.

The most direct route to the coast was via White Pass which, coincidentally, follows a route just south of the southeast park entrance. And there is this spot on the other side of the summit where you come around the corner and, on a clear day, feel as if you can touch it. Over the years that moment has always been the one which says ‘welcome to Western Washington.’ My grandmother snapped a photo from the back seat of the car. It was only the first of many photos I have of the mountain.

I would venture that I’ve driven through the National Park well over 100 times and have visited both Sunrise and Paradise multiple times. Back in the early 1980’s, the hubby and I – along with my parents – hiked up to the Paradise ice caves. It was a truly ethereal experience to be standing in a blue translucent cave made of ice. Today, they are gone.

The hubby in 1980 something on one of many trips to the mountain.

As a newspaper reporter in Eatonville in 1979-80, I learned that the folks in Pierce County think of Mount Rainier as ‘theirs.’ Afterall, it was originally named Tahoma or Tacoma by the natives of the area. And it dominates the region. 

One summer evening shortly after I moved to Eatonville, I was on the phone with one of the town council members to ask him a few questions about a story I was working on. It was around 8:30 p.m. and getting on towards sunset. We were talking when all of the sudden he says, “Strawberry Ice Cream.”

“Excuse me,” I replied, “What’s this about strawberry ice cream?”

“The mountain,” he replied, “Looks just like strawberry ice cream… and then it will be blueberry.”

And so it did. Although I didn’t have a view from my place of the mountain like he did, it only took a few steps outside my apartment and to the north for me to have a nice view of Pierce county’s ice cream ‘Sundae.’

White Pass viewpoint with the hubby in 2016. On this particular day we were treated to a phenomenon known as lenticular clouds.

But it was on a trip from Nashville to Seattle a few years ago which reminded me that not everyone understands what an impact Mount Rainier has on those who see and enjoy it regularly. I was seated on the aisle and as we approached Seattle, I knew we would be passing the mountain to the north. As its massive white flanks came into view through one of the windows a row down and across the aisle, I craned my neck for a look. My frustration grew as the couple directly across from me kept their window covering closed. No longer able to hold back I said to them, “You really should open your window. Mount Rainier is right next to us.”

The man slid the opening up and both he and his wife exclaimed over how close and how immense it was.

Then he proceeded to say to me “Are you sure that’s Mount Rainier?”

I suppressed a laugh at the absurdity of the question. It’s easily one of the most recognizable peaks in the world, especially when you are right next to it and its larger than life.

“Trust me,” I replied, “I grew up here and that most definitely is Mount Rainier. Isn’t it nice for the mountain to be out today?”

Without You

‘The killer song of all times’

February 23, 2021

Paul McCartney once said of this ballad that it is ‘the killer song of all times.’ Pretty high praise from someone who’s written more than a few great songs himself.

Since its release by the group Badfinger on their 1970 album ‘No Dice’, Without You has been recorded by over 180 artists. Of those Harry Nillson’s version was the most successful, sitting atop the Billboard Hot 100 for 4 weeks from February 19 to March 11, 1972.

Tom Evans and Pete Ham

The song was borne through the work of two of Badfinger’s members: Pete Ham and Tom Evans. The Infallible Wikipedia shares how the song was written:

“Pete Ham wrote a song originally titled ‘If It’s Love’, but it had lacked a strong chorus. At the time of writing, the band shared residence with the Mojos at 7 Park Avenue in Golders Green. One evening, in the midst of the parties, songwriting, touring, in Golders Green, Ham and his girlfriend Beverly Tucker were about to go out for the evening. But just as they were leaving Tom Evans said he had an idea for a song – Ham said, ‘Not tonight, I’ve promised Bev.’ But she thought he would be wondering if he had done the right thing later, if he went out, – she told him – ‘Go into the studio, I’m fine about it’ … He said, ‘Your mouth is smiling, but your eyes are sad.’ The song Ham wrote that night was called ‘If it’s Love’ and has the verse ‘Well I can’t forget tomorrow, when I think of all my sorrow, I had you there but then I let you go, and now it’s only fair that I should let you know … if it’s love’. But Ham wasn’t happy with the chorus.

Evans’ relationship with his future wife Marianne influenced his lyrics:

Nillson’s 45 version of the song

One evening he [Evans] went to her [Marianne’s] friend Karen and told Karen, ‘She’s left me. I need her back. I can’t live without her.’ He flew to Bonn to find her – he wrote a song called ‘I Can’t Live’. Its chorus included ‘I can’t live, if living is without you, I can’t live, I can’t give any more.’ And so the merging of the two songs, Ham and Evans created the hit [with] Ham’s verse, ‘warm, sweet, sentimental’ and Evans’ chorus, ‘intense, dramatic, heartbreaking.’

Both Ham and Evans said they did not consider the song to have much potential at the time Badfinger recorded it, and the track was slotted to close the first side of their 1970 album No Dice. Badfinger’s recording of the song, which is more brusque than its successors’ versions, was not released as a single in Europe or North America.”

The lyrics and the melody are an amazing combination of a soulful, unforgettable tune, and lyrics which capture the pain of heartbreak.

In the writing of this article, I ended up listening to the ten most successful versions of the song. It was recorded by several country artists, as well as R&B favorite Ruby Winters and, more recently pop Diva, Mariah Carey. Pop Groups Heart and Air Supply each have versions.

And all, in my opinion – including the original Badfinger rendition – pale in comparison to Nillson’s version; when he sings the song, seems to really mean it. Now, I suppose that my love of that interpretation can be traced back to the fall of 1971 when pop radio was a huge part of my life.

I remember listening to this song as well as hearing it played at the various dances I attended. Who wouldn’t want to dance with that cute guy you had a crush on while the words ‘Can’t live, if living is without you’ seemed the most romantic thing you’d ever heard? Exactly.

For teenagers, it seems, everything is MORE. Feelings are more intense. First love is more intense. First breakup is more intense. Without You captured all of that in one heart-wrenching song.

From the perch of a different time of life, however, one comes to understand that along the way that first love usually fades and others follow. That first breakup – which at the time does seem like the end of the world – starts to be not quite so life ending.

The intense feelings give way to other needs: to eat, to work, to live life. And, for most people, one eventually understands that, as cliché as it may sound, life does go on.

Being a teenager was emotionally exhausting if for no other reason than most teens hold the erroneous belief that NO ONE EVER has felt the same way as them. But it’s simply not true.

If someone had told me this at the time I probably wouldn’t have believed them. Of course no one had ever felt like I felt. In my arrogance I was certain that I had a monopoly on heartache and disappointment.

It was only some decades later that I belatedly came to understand that everyone has problems in life. Or, as I frequently say, Everyone has ‘stuff.’ I might have used a different, not as benign word but, since this is a family friendly blog, I’ll leave it as stuff.

Whatever ‘stuff’ you are facing my friends, I wish you the strength to get through it.

A few links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Without_You_(Badfinger_song)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Nilsson

Scott Hamilton

King of the Ice

February 16, 2021

The 1984 Olympic Men’s Skate medalists, left to right: Brian Orser(2nd), Scott Hamilton(1st), Jozef Sabovčík(3rd)

This 1984 Olympic Gold medalist was, perhaps, the most unlikely of stars to achieve brilliance. To this day he is, however, one of the most popular U.S. men’s figure skaters ever; an individual who is a testament to the power of determination, hard work, and a positive attitude.

It was on February 16, 1984, when 25 year old Scott Hamilton won Olympic Gold at the games in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia (Now Bosnia and Herzegovina)

His skating story began 14 years earlier when he first took to the ice at age 11. Two years later, he was entering skating competitions. For the athletically inclined Hamilton, choosing an appropriate sport was likely a challenge.

When he was two years old he stopped growing. What followed were tests and speculation over why. From the Infallible Wikipedia:

“After numerous tests and several wrong diagnoses (including a diagnosis of cystic fibrosis that gave him just six months to live), the disease began to correct itself. His family physician sent him to Boston Children’s Hospital to see a Dr. Shwachman. He was told the doctor had no idea what was wrong and to go home and stop the diets in order to live a normal life. Years later, it was determined that a congenital brain tumor was the root cause of his childhood illness.”

The impact was huge. During the years of his greatest amateur skating success he was only 5 feet 2 ½ inches tall and weighed 108 pounds. Obviously, playing football or ice hockey was not an option.

Hamilton parlayed his small stature – what many would see as a liability – into his greatest asset. Not only was he was fast on the ice, but he developed his athleticism such that he made the jumps and his intricate footwork look effortless. Although not allowed in competition, his signature back flip at the end of his exhibition routines always brought fans to their feet. Only the strongest and most daring of skaters can successfully execute the move.

When he retired from amateur skating, he was the 1984 reigning world champion in the Men’s division. From there he went on to have a successful professional career and has, arguably, done more to elevate the sport of ice skating than any other individual ever. Also from the Infallible Wikipedia:

“After turning professional, Hamilton toured with the Ice Capades for two years, and then created ‘Scott Hamilton’s American Tour,’ which later was renamed Stars on Ice. He co-founded, co-produced and performed in Stars on Ice for 15 years before retiring from the tour in 2001 (though he still returns for occasional guest performances).

He has been awarded numerous skating honors, including being the first solo male figure skater to be awarded the Jacques Favart Award (in 1988). In 1990 he was inducted into the United States Olympic Hall of Fame.”

His road in life has not been easy. He survived testicular cancer in 1997 only to have a second brain tumor be discovered in 2004. After a successful surgery for the benign tumor, yet a third tumor was found in 2016. So far he’s been successful in shrinking the tumor through dietary changes.

Although I’d watched Olympic figure skating before, it was the 1984 Olympics and Scott Hamilton particularly, which became the impetus for a decade of following the sport. And what better place to be for watching the Olympics than in a magical place such as Whistler.

The hubby and I – along with his sister and mother – had joined a Whatcom Community college group for a weekend skiing sojourn. Yes, I was 26 years old when I took my first lessons… at Whistler. At the end of each day, we’d return to the rental house (a precursor to the AirBnB concept) for food and fellowship and to watch the Olympics. And what an Olympics it was. We rooted for hometown favorites Rosalyn Summers, Phil and Steve Mahre, and Oregonian Bill Johnson.

The memory that sticks with me most is of the hubby and my sister-in-law out at a pub in Whistler Village. The TV is on over the bar and we are watching the events. But we can’t hear the play by play because there is no sound. Instead, dance music is blaring through the bar. And the pair of them – hubby and sister – are ‘dancing’ while sitting in their chairs, and making quite the spectacle. I imagine the pub owners had second thoughts about those chairs as they were on wheels which allowed the chair dancing shenanigans. Shenanigans which, I might add, nearly got us kicked out of that bar.

Home a few days later, I cheered as I watched Scott Hamilton win the Gold medal, the first US man to do so in the Olympics in 24 years.

What followed over the next six years was attending the US National championships at the Tacoma dome in 1987, and seeing “Stars On Ice” at least twice at the Seattle Center Arena. It was during Stars on Ice that we finally saw Hamilton skate in person. It was worth it. What an amazing skater and showman, his performances unforgettable.

I leave you with this from a publication titled ‘CancerTutor.com.’

“Hamilton is a firm believer in ‘getting up’ after the fall. He pointed to a chapter in his book, The Great Eight, titled ‘Fall Down, Get Up, Smile Like Kristi Yamaguchi.’

‘In one of her [skating] programs, she took a hard fall on a really difficult jump — and she got up, went right back to her program like nothing happened. I realized in that moment there’s a life lesson: I’m gonna fall down. I’m gonna make mistakes. But it’s what’s next — it’s how you get up. The more times you get up, the stronger you are.’”

Some links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott_Hamilton_(figure_skater)

Bobsledding Along

The Debut of Sledding in the Olympics

February 9, 2021

Over the years, a variety of competitions have been added to the Winter Olympics. On February 9, 1932, the two-man Bobsled made its debut and has been a fan favorite ever since.

Photo of a USA 2 man Bobsled team at the 1932 Olympics

For anyone unfamiliar with the event, think sledding but much, much faster. The first competitions, predating the Olympic Games, occurred in St. Moritz, Switzerland in the 1800’s.

The Infallible Wikipedia tells us:

“Its foundation began when hotelier Caspar Badrutt (1848–1904) convinced some wealthy English regulars to remain through the entire winter at his hotel in the mineral spa town of St. Moritz, Switzerland. He had been frustrated that his hotel was only busy during the summer months. By keeping his guests entertained with food, alcohol, and activities, he quickly established the concept of ‘winter resorting’. Within a few years, wintering at Badrutt’s St Moritz hotel became very fashionable in Victorian Britain. However, with increased numbers this led some guests to search for new diversions. In the early 1870s some adventurous Englishmen began adapting boys’ delivery sleds for recreational purposes.”

The hotel guests loved the sleds and soon they competed in races down the streets and alleys of St. Moritz. The ‘runs’ became longer and the speeds faster which led to crashes and injuries. Complaints from the townspeople increased.

Sledding the streets of St. Moritz circa 1903

(Badrutt’s) “solution was to build a basic natural ice run for his guests outside the town near the small hamlet named Cresta in the late 1870s. Badrutt took action because he did not want to make enemies in the town and he had worked hard and investing a lot of time and money in popularizing wintering in St. Moritz so he was not going to let customers stop coming due to boredom.”

The Bobsled – either the two-man or four-man – is controlled by a steering mechanism in the nose of a bullet shaped ‘car.’ The participants sit in a crouched position facing forward inside the car which is guided by the pilot. The additional participants serve as pushers to gain initial speed and then as ballast which helps the Bobsled go faster down the icy track.

Besides Bobsled another winter event, the Luge, also involves excessive speeds. The Luge, however, is sport where the participant lays face up on an open, lightweight sled and uses his or her feet to guide it.

You can ride an actual bobsled on the Olympic Track from the Whistler games… just a six hour drive from Seattle!

Both sports are rather heart stopping at times. The world record for Bobsled speed is 125 mph! Lugers generally race between 75 and 90 mph.

Given a choice between watching the summer or winter games, I’ve always been a bigger fan of the snow sports whether it’s skating, skiing, or sledding.

I think this may stem from my childhood days growing up in Yakima. While most of winter in Yakima tends to be marked by sunny, cold, and dry, there are usually a few big enough snow events which made sledding – which is an inexpensive pastime – possible. The street I grew up on was perfect for a beginner sledding experience. It had a slope, but was gentle enough that a five year old could manage it.

As the years went on, I graduated to bigger hills. A walk south to where 31st Avenue crossed Tieton drive brought we adventurous sliders to the top of a rather daunting slope. At the bottom of that slope lived my cousins. When we got bored with our pedestrian hill we ventured to theirs.

Then, the year I was twelve I was allowed one day to head to the holy grail of all sledding hills in Yakima: Franklin Park.

From top to bottom, the hill is probably about 60 feet. The center of the 45 degree slope is flat like a cookie sheet. But on either side are terraces, each of the half dozen around 10 feet high. After a big snow, of course, the hill comes alive with hundreds of kids and every one of them wants to slide down the sloped ‘cookie sheet’ in the middle. It doesn’t take long for the snow to reveal the un-slidable grass from the activity of all those kids.

Franklin Park in Yakima is a magnet for kids after a big snowfall. The center section was always the most popular spot but when the snow was gone even the terraces (the lumpy looking sides) beckoned the brave.

On the particular day I was allowed to go I ended up relegated to trying to figure out how to sled the terraces. I lay down on my sled, hands on the cross bar and inched my way to the top of the highest terrace; the sled dropped down over the edge and I flew. For exactly 10 feet before the sled lurched to a stop in the deep snow.

This was not, you might imagine, a particularly successful method of sledding. But I persevered and dragged the sled to the next terrace ledge, lay down and once again pushed the sled over the ledge, pretty much bouncing down the next terrace with a similar result.

Now I cannot recall for sure on which terrace disaster struck, but strike it did during this, my first and only time sledding at Franklin Park.

Down the slope I went and when I got to the bottom of the third level, the front of the sled reared up and smacked me in the face. I rolled off the sled, the stinging pain letting me know my decision making abilities were not very good. But the worst part of all was that my glasses, which I needed for distance vision, lay broken in two in the snow.

Despite that experience, I have persisted. There’s nothing quite so exhilarating as when you gain momentum and go hurtling down a slippery slope, knowing that you are likely out of control, but loving the speed and the flying sensation.

Kids having fun sledding at the family cabin near White Pass

Our family cabin was, for years, a destination for New Year’s or President’s Day weekends. When the kids arrived, we introduced them to the joys of sledding and everyone looked forward to those trips.

On one particular afternoon, we were all outside playing in the snow and my dad had driven up from Yakima. He had to have been in his late 70’s at the time, but there he was sliding down the hill with the kids and having a great time. Or he was right up until the boat sled in which he was riding sailed over a berm and he landed hard, bruising his tailbone. It was at that moment he declared his sledding days over. About five years ago I did the exact same thing in the exact same spot and, like my dad, ended up bruised and battered.

We all frequently ended up sprawled out on the snow at the end of the sled run

I have my doubts that I’ll ever get back on a sled but I haven’t counted it out quite yet. After we sold the cabin this past summer, two of the metal boat sleds came to live in my garage. Now all I need is a snowy day. Not too far from where I live is an epic hill which would be perfect for a run.

But, with no big snow storms on the horizon, I’ll do the next best thing. I typed in ‘virtual luge’ on my computer and got hundreds of hits. For best results, view it on a full size TV. And for a couple of minutes you can see what it would be like to ride a two man bobsled. And you won’t even need to wear a helmet or your mittens. But a cup of hot chocolate with a dollop of whip cream would be heavenly.

And a couple of links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobsleigh

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luge

Facebook answers, clockwise from upper left corner: 2 Man Bobsled, Ski Jumping, Single Luge, Ice Hockey, Ice Dance