Monday, May 4, 2015

Sibling Assignment #162: The Sunnyside Ice Bowl

Carol sprung this prompt for Sibling Assignment #162 on us three siblings:

Think back to something that happened when you were a student at Sunnyside Elementary, and why you think that incident has stuck in your memory after all these years.
Carol wrote her version of the Jets and the Sharks at Sunnyside Elementary, here and Christy wrote about her artistic talents and aspirations when she was a sixth grader, here.

I remember a lot about my four years at Sunnyside Elementary.  I'll never forget Dave Rowley coming up to me under the fire escapes behind the old part of the school and telling me JFK had been shot.

I'll always remember when Delbert Larson was my patrol partner at the corner of Division and Cameron, across from Wellman's Auto, and he rammed the shaft of his patrol flag into the traffic light control box from underneath and the traffic lights went nuts, flashing chaotically between red, yellow, and green, confusing the drivers of the semis and the cars -- luckily no accidents occurred.

I remember when, on our way to junior choir practice at the United Church,  Don Windisch pinched penny candy at Walden's story and when he revealed his spoils to Scott Stuart and me, he proudly crowed, "The hand is quicker than the eye."

I remember Mrs. Denlinger kicking me out of class for reading a bloody scene from Where the Fern Grows.

I remember Mrs. Denlinger censoring our Weekly Reader if it had anything controversial in it -- like the space program -- she belonged to the John Birch Society and opposed government programs -- she also made us pray in class and do group memorized readings from Scripture after the Supreme Court ruled that such activities violated the separation of church and state.

Mrs. Denlinger also made me stay for over an hour after school the last day of classes to complete work on Greek Mythology that I hadn't finished back in February.

I remember Mrs. Hitzel putting the kibosh on Scott and me roaring, "A-Yoooooo-Weee" as we darted out of the classroom for recess, calling our joyful cry, "that horrible holler".

Oh, there's more.

But, I need to get to that one especially memorable incident that I can now call the Sunnyside Ice Bowl.

It happened before the historic Ice Bowl of December 31, 1967 when the Packers hosted the Cowboys on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field in severe sub-zero conditions.

I was a fifth grader.

A cold snap had invaded Kellogg.

It was glorious.

The sky was clear and as blue as a robin's egg.  A foot or more of dry, powder snow covered the Sunnyside playground.

It was so cold that not one teacher would come outside for playground duty -- and, yet, this being some time in the winter of 1964-65, we boys who wanted to be outside in these conditions were allowed to have our own recess --


I have no idea who let us be on the playground by ourselves, but we took full advantage of the situation.

You see, normally, when we played football on the Sunnyside Elementary playground, we had to play two-hand touch, not tackle football.

But with a foot of powdery snow on the ground, no teachers to stop us, and an instinctual desire to warm ourselves up, we divided into two sides and played an awesome game of tackle football.

As I grew older, I came to hate playing tackle football and never did it again after the ninth grade.

But on this day, it was the most fun I ever had on that playground.

I remember my face going from freezing cold to burning and never would I ever have so much fun tackling other kids on the soft cushion of the powdery snow and rolling around in it, hardly, it seemed, even getting wet.

We also were joined in a brief brotherhood of getting away with something we had never done before and would never do again and the thrill of not having to play touch football, but playing tackle, made us giddy, moved us to help each other up after a tackle, laugh at the absurdity of trying to run, pass, and punt in this deep snow with golashes on, and, when the bell rang ending recess, we put our arms around each others' shoulders, laughed more, and made our way back to our respective classes.

No one got hurt.

Mirth ruled.

The warmth of the building never felt better, and, once in, I realized, as I'm sure my classmates did, that the powder snow did, indeed, have water content.  My pants and whatever I wore above the waist were really wet and I remember (I think) Mrs. Denlinger letting me stand next to one of the steam heat radiators and get dry.

I admit.  The conditions we played this one surreptitious game of tackle football under were no equal to the Ice Bowl in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

But, all the same, as I grew older, I always looked back on it as the Sunnyside Ice Bowl.

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