LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
If there was no powder box to be found, our old farm was covered up with paling fences, made of narrow slats that had been split from chestnut or white oak logs. Dad, like most other people, was switching over to wire. Palings were plentiful but very heavy compared to powder boxes or well-cured poplar or pine boards if you could find any that weren’t nailed down too tight.
I could usually talk either Uncle Willie Adams or Uncle Stevie Craft into whittling my sled runners so that the front ends were nicely curved upwards and the bottoms gently rounded off.
Aunt Lona Adams smoked Prince Albert tobacco that came in sturdy tin cans.
It was tedious work but you could make the can seams loosen and then fit ‘em on the bottoms of your sled runners and the finished product would almost fly once you got it broken in.
Of course, the main reason for building sleds in the first place was to go belly busting down the sides of hills any time we had a snowfall. And anytime somebody tells me they don’t believe in global warming, I point out to them that it sure as heck snowed a lot more in the 50’s and 60’s than it does this day and time.
Sleds also came in very handy for evening chores. I could usually haul three buckets of coal or four or five arm loads of wood on the sled and that saved a lot of walking and heavy lifting. It also made doing the chores fun instead of dreaded.
Okay, I know you’ve been dying to know what a mop handle was used for in sled construction. So I’m guessing you’ve never ridden a wooden sled down a snow-covered hill because you grew up in a family that could afford to spring for you a fancy, brought-on, Western Flyer sleigh. I used mop handles across the front of my sleds so that they stuck out on both sides and I had something to hang onto when I went belly busting down the hill.