Archive for December 12th, 2011

I hate questions like, “What’s your favorite…..?” But I have two favorite  Christmas presents that I still remember with great fondness and gratitude. One was my Brownie Hawkeye box black and white Kodak camera which I got when I was in 7th grade.

But today, I will write about the other favorite — very favorite — Christmas present I received when I was in the 9th Grade. It was the most beautiful pair of size 9 white figure skates I had ever seen! And they were mine.

I didn’t think there was anything more glamourous than beautiful women and handsome men twirling around the ice rink in formal competition. Sonja Henning was famous back in the 50’s, but so much more was to come.

When I was in grade school, the only pair of skates that were in our house was my dad’s black men’s hockey skates. He was so very proud of them and his puck conquests in his childhood days with his boyhood cronies. In northern Illinois, where we lived, there was a dike that froze over in the winter, and my older brother would use dad’s skates to get into a hockey game.

I remember using them a few times, but they were this “ugly-black beat up” leather that surely didn’t belong on a girl’s foot. Besides that, they also had a very thin, sharp edge on the bottom of the blade and weren’t good for balancing or weak ankles that wobbled side to side on them.

When we moved to Michigan, I was just beginning high school and I had a great little group of friends. In Michigan, snow sports and activities were quite “in” and to be able to do some fun evening skate and tobaggon parties at the city parks with the other teen-agers, I couldn’t show up in these old black skates.  

So, I think I put on a pretty intensive pleading crusade for my own pair of brilliant white figure skates. And for my parents, this was probably not a small request to be filled. But on Christmas morning I was an overjoyed teen who unwrapped her heart’s desire.

I became a medium-average skater, being able to do the star twirl turn arounds, skate backwards, and achieve some rhythem and grace gliding on the ice. But in my mind’s eye, I was performing levels above that, enjoying every minute of it.

I loved being out in the cold, crisp air watching my breath in front of me. I even liked getting cold at night, skating under the stars until I became so shivering that I had to warm up with hot chocolate in the warming hut.

Loving ice skating so much led me to explore down-hill skiing in my college years, which I also loved and shared with my husband well into our middle-age years, when I was a John Denver fan. Once we were being lifted to the top of the slope for another run at a northern Michigan resort, and Denver’s song, Annie floated out in the sky-blue air….”You fill up my senses“….. and it was totally true, my senses were completly filled up in that moment.

But — timelapse back to my high school days, dad eventually turned our neat oblong back yard into a perfect ice rink. My brothers enjoyed many a hockey game there, but I just skated and twirled and hosted some teen winter parties with the option to ice skate. My friends loved it.

We lived near Michigan State University, and so I also took my skates out to Munn Arena for Saturday night skates before I became a college student there. Once I got asked to skate by a college guy, who thought I was a college freshman when I replied “freshman” to his question of what year was I.

When he asked the courses I was taking, I didn’t know enough to say “ATL” or Natural Science, which were college basics at State, so the gig was up. And he went on to another skater, I’m sure.

I’m not sure what happened to those skates. Like my Brownie Hawkeye camera, I wish I still had them. I think my Cinderella size 9 foot became a size 10 foot and I couldn’t wear them anymore. At least they didn’t accompany me when I got married after college and moved to the Southern climate of Kentucky.

There I concentrated on the Bluegrass and my love of horses.



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