Since this is obviously the ‘Winter That Never Was’, I have taken upon myself to put together winter memories of yesteryears. I am sure that many of you cousins can chime in with your own winter memories—Please do!
In our family newsletter 2846, I culled short bits from the January 1995 newsletter centered around ‘Winter Memories’
February of 1972 in the Kinsellas backyard--Chris with our dog Corky, Beth in front, Tim in back, Tom in light blue coat and then Jim--What hockey games we enjoyed!
Tom, Chris, Tim and I took a trip to the cottage a few years ago just after Christmas. Tom jumped on the chance to start a fire and soon a good blaze was going while the rest of us unloaded the clothes, food, skis and skates. Each time I walked in the smoke form the fire seemed thicker, but that often happens with the fireplace at the old cottage. You have to wait for it to get going before the smoke goes up the chimney.
When everything was unloaded, we each hopped into a sleeping bag and sat around in the frigid living room waiting for it to warm up. We didn’t sit too close to the fire though because it was too smoky. In fact, the room was so thick with smoke by now that I was starting to feel like I was attending a meeting for Smokers Anonymous. ‘Did you check the flu, Tom?’ asked Tim.
‘Yep, first thing I did. I pulled it open and then started the fire.’
We waited a few minutes more until one of us collapsed on the floor in a choking and gagging fit. Chris rushed to open one door and I the other. ‘Maybe somebody never closed the flu last fall,’ Tom thought and he proved to be correct. He monkeyed with the flu again and we waited while all the smoke (and heat) rushed out of the living room. In about half an hour the room had cleared enough so that Tom’s body was no longer hovering in a cloud.
We went to bed at 3AM when the thermometer INSIDE read 32 degrees.
Tim also writes about this particular winter at Otty Lake:
Unfortunately, the chimney flu had been left open so Tom really ended up closing it and started a mammoth fire. We ended up opening all the doors and windows to air the place out and then had to wait until 4AM to get the temperature above freezing so we could go to sleep without fear of ‘waking up frozen to death’. We spent our time playing cards and of course decided to have a few beers. The ones we brought were frozen, so Chris had the great idea of thawing them in the fire. Of course we forgot about them for awhile and when we got them all we had was HOT beer—Yummy!
Winter of 1966 in the Kinsellas front yard
I remember tobogganing at Durand Park in Rochester on one of the little hills. We had four to five people on the toboggan. It was hard to steer, and the hill was crowded. I remember running directly into a little girl coming up the hill. She flew head over heels over all of us after we hit her, and landed just after we flew by. We all thought it was quite comical. I’m not sure how she felt about it. (Editor’s Note: I was one of the five kids crammed onto that sled and we all saw that little girl—she looked to be about my age. But we could all see that there was nothing to be done—we were going to hit her. I watched her face in slow motion as she did seem to fly over us and land in a soft plop. At the bottom of the hill, I looked back to see her get up and run to her family—smiling or crying? To this day, I can see her face—mine looking up and hers looking down at me. And yes, I can’t explain it, but I laugh every time I think of the idiocy of it all)
Pat (aka the Editor of the blog story) found her old diary and wrote this:
Sunday December 31st, 1972—For Christmas, I got albums by Three Dog Night, Melanie, Elton John, skates, a tie-dye set and lots of other things. After Christmas we went to the cottage and saw –ten degree weather, four feet of snow and RATS! We killed six rats and six mice. We skated, sledded, skied, tobogganed and snow-shoed.
Chris also writes about this Otty Lake Memory:
One time we had rats and I stood guard as Dad and Corky tried to kill the rats behind the woodpile. I had an old WWI army gun which I was to smash upon the rats head. Good training for a five year old, I thought.
Kinsella front yard--February 1970--Jim in front, Tom behind him, Beth and then Pat in the back--LOVE this picture--notice I have bread bags coming out of my boots--remember how they insulated AND kept the water out? And, those hats with the long tails were so 'in' back then!
And Tom writes of a winter activity most of us Kinsellas loved—the snow tunnel:
There were a couple of good winters when I was eight to twelve years old and I got in the habit of making elaborate snow fort/tunnels. Dan, Tim and Pat probably taught me how to do it. I remember being very unhappy with one of our new snowblowers because it blew the snow too far—it didn’t build up high banks the way shoveling did. I went so far as to shovel so that I could have some good tunneling real estate. Some winters the bank was tall enough and long enough so that I could tunnel from the turnaround almost to the road. I think I was under the influence of the movie ‘The Great Escape’. I would make a thin tunnel about eight feet long, then open it up into a larger chamber where I could sit with someone (always careful to poke air holes in the roof). Beyond the chamber I would start off on another narrow stretch. I dug on my stomach with my hands in front of me. I’m not sure what I did with all the snow when I was deep in the tunnel. If it ever snows enough down here in New Jersey, I might be tempted to try a smaller version still.
January of 1974 up at Otty Lake in Canada--Pat, Chris, Beth on one of our perfect ice skating years!
So, Cousins, On to Spring!