Wintertime in Imlay-ville long ago
Wednesday, December 18, 2013 4:00 PM
LINDEN, Texas - Today it's colder than blue blazes in east Texas, where below freezing temperatures are rare. Lately, it's been down in the 20s almost every night.
Alicia has been keeping me posted on the cold that's permeating Pershing County, as well as my niece, the girl named Sue (Nouque) of dear old Imlay. Niece Cindy keeps me posted on the weather conditions in Unionville, sister Ophelia from the Fernley area, and from the cold cold spot of Nevada, Elko County, sister Sylvia Callaway keeps me shivering reporting the bitter cold there.
What's going on, folks? Winter is weeks away (today's date is Dec. 11) and winter blizzards are the order of the day. And that after a record-setting hot summer globally.
I am now sitting by the warm fire at home on this cold, icy day, pecking away at the keyboard writing this little missive.
I'm reminiscing about my childhood days during the Great World War of '41 thru '45. Living in Imlay at that time was fun and exciting. We kids slept in warm beds, had a hot breakfast, and on non-school days, headed to the outdoors for the day. All day long we found entertainment on the streets of Imlay; neither snow nor cold ever kept us inside And it went on till bedtime. It was snowball fights from forts built with snow, a walk down to the river for ice skating (where Stanley Monroe broke through the ice for a very cold swim), but the biggie of all was a day of ice skating on Rye Patch out west of Callahan Crossing.
That was too far to walk, so we hitched rides with the town folks who had automobiles and enjoyed the sport of ice skating.
I remember particularly Tennie Friberg as being a great skater. She was a very pretty woman, very athletic, and skated like Sonja Henie, the world class Norwegian beauty and Olympic skater. Tennie could do the moves of professional skaters. Spins, turns, gliding backward - she did it all, except for jumping. Jumping was showcased by Alta Mae and Leslie Wright's father. I do not remember his first name, but he was commonly called "Shorty" by the other railroaders. I respectfully called him "Mister Wright."
Mister Wright took a barrel out to the popular ice skating area on Rye Patch, where he put on a show jumping the barrel on his ice skates. It amazed me that such a little man could get so high on his jumps. He could have cleared more than one barrel. Watching him and Tennie made the skating trips more exciting for me, and I'm sure others as well.
Henry Thacker ("granpa Henry") took us kids on exciting sled runs around town, pulling us behind his pick-em-up truck. It was more exciting at nighttime, since the streets were well lit by street lights. Henry never wrecked his truck, and none of us ever wrecked bad enough to write home about.
I remember one wipeout by my sister Lila. Henry took Lila (who was his daughter-in-law) around a street corner pretty fast, and the sled turned over, spilling Lila on the icy snow. She yelled at him and insisted he did that on purpose, but Henry denied spilling her purposely, as he laughed and grinned from ear to ear.
One afternoon I rode out to Callahan Crossing with my sister Ophelia and her husband for an evening of ice skating. Usually the drivers parked up close to the road. My brother-out-law said it looked frozen over enough to drive on. He attempted to drive down close to the ice. We made it about half way before the car broke through the frozen crust. We tried to get it out, but the harder we tried, the deeper it sank.
Finally, we set out for town, walking briskly to try and keep warm. We walked for hours, and just as we were crossing the railroad tracks west of town, brother Jesse came looking for us. Jess was working the evening shift at the railroad shops in Imlay, and came looking for us when he got off work. You can't even imagine how warm the inside of that car felt.
Whenever I visit Imlay now, there is hardly ever anyone on the snowy streets at nighttime, like there was 70 years ago. But back then, we did not have cellphones and iPads and iPods and electronic games and television sets. All we had was good clean healthy honest fun on the streets of Imlay, Nevada, circa 1943-1944.
Roy Bale can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.