Oconto County WIGenWeb Project
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Oconto County, Wisconsin
Mountain Memories
Pages 36 - 37

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Christmas Gifts
Harry Baldwin, Marinus Jensen, and George Gibsons1 children all became owners of an incredible flying machine called the 'Flexible Flyer' sled on Christmas morning one year/ and this snow sled was the true cadi-llac of all sleds ever built! It was known to carry up to seven kids at one time.
Baldwin's hill became the center of activity through out our Christmas vacation from school because you were able to start up past their house at the top of the crest and end up clear down past Thomas Rasmussen's place, which is on the other side of town ! On really cold nights 20 to 30 of us would gather there with our mothers' wash boilers to haul water from the town creek and then we would 'ice* the hill on the corner by the Church of Christ. Then we could really fly !
When tiring of sledding on Baldwin's hill, or by John Olson's dwon silver Hill, we would go skating on Bill Bartz's pond or at Green Lake just south of town. I recall only one or two skaters possessing real shoe skates when I first took my pratfalls on the ice. Most of us had clamp-on skates, which meant spending just as much time sitting by the smoky fire to refasten the skates ties, as skating around the rink ! The clamps loosened from the inadequate soles to which they were fastened, but we still managed to glide about in between. A good snowstorm would put an end to our skating rink until we could shovel the area clear again, and so we were able to enjoy this sport until quite late into the winter.
My mother told me that when she was a young girl the boys fashioned a conveyance they called a 'ripper'. It was made with two sleds connected together by a plank 16 feet long and about 20 inches wide, and could then accommodate up to twenty riders in one swift run.
One evening going down the Baldwin hill, this ripper developed a very high rate of speed and ended up in the ditch when the driver lost control. Mrs. Herb 'Flossie' Baldwin suffered a broken leg in the incident, so needless to say, that was the end of the days of the 'ripper1 here in the town of Mountain.
One Christmas when my Dad had his General Store in what is now Joe Baldwin's residence, I had a sled that was not the best. Shortly before Christmas Dad had one sled left in stock, a real beauty called the 'King of the Hill'. He told me that if he didn't sell the sled by Christmas Eve, I could have it!
Christmas ~Eve the sled was still there at 6 p.m. and I knew my Dad would be closing soon, when disaster then struck. . .Reynold Lambrecht came into the store and my vision of a new sled for Christmas disappeared. . . he bought the 'King of the Hill. !
When this Mountain Memory of Rusty's appeared in the Times Herald, the recipient of that sled called to say he had spent many glorious hours sledding on the hills of his father's farm, never knowing of Rusty's side of the story! Vernon Lambrecht was the one to receive the King of the Hill for Christmas that year and said he put that sled to good use. Vernon resides on Star Lake Road north of the town of Mountain.
Rudy Saffran, a grandson to Adolph Saffran, also recalled many of the winter sports enjoyed by the' kids in town, he wrote of 'skating for miles' on the North Branch of the Oconto River, and also helped Rusty to recall the years of the 'ripper1 (Rusty first recalled this sledding conveyance as the 'rutter'). Rudy then added his recollections that this sled was totally uncontrollable, for the riders had to drag their feet in order to stop, and there was no way of really steering it either! He said he often wondered what ever possessed Mrs. Herb Baldwin to take a ride on t-he 'devilish' contraption in the first place!
Norman Alien, a son to Henry Alien,sent us his memo-ies of the 'ripper' as well. He recalled Baldwin's hill with the snow banks piled high along the edges of the pathway as leaving a trail much like a trough, which was perfect for 'icing'. Five fellows once joined Norman for a ride on the ripper and ended up on a pile of rocks across from Herb Baldwin's Store! Though no one was hurt, they did leave the ripper in pretty bad shape. The fellows belonged to the orchestra that had come to town to play for the dance, and didn't want to board the train on Sunday, until they went for a ride on the ripper!