Sunday, March 18, 2012

Winter Memories By the Kinsella Kids

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!

Jim writes:

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

Dan writes:

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!


MOM/CB said...

Those were the years!! WE used to go up after Christmas and stay 3-4 days , returning to Rochester for New Year's. The packing was a real logistic nightmare for 10 of us! The food was a challange as the kitchen had no heat and all we had in the one fireplace room was a 2 burner stove with an oven that when used took all the heat from the burners! The fireplace was always covered with wet jackets and mittens, well , you all know the story! Fun years but lots of work for someone!

Sue Kinsella said...

And THAT is why I live in California. Makes me shiver just to read about this and see the pictures! Everybody sure was cute, though. And I regret that I've never seen the lake so smoothly frozen like that.

Jack K. said...

I must say most comments made by the Kisella kids sound as though they came from smart people.
Yet speaking of those winter days in Canada, one time Corky, our dog, got locked in the cold (20 below) part of the cottage, so he started barking. I said, "Look, it's so cold Corky's barks are freezing and falling to the floor." Some of those "smart" kids rushed up to look.

Tim said...

Thanks for the memories Pat. That trip to the cottage right after Christmas with Jim,Chris, Tom, and I was a classic one that I will never forget.

Pat said...


Happy Happy Birthday!! You are the best.

Love you,

Kathryn said...

hmmm. . . winter memories
I spent the years till I was 11 up on the 'farm'. The one that Byron and Kate and Uncle Adin lived on before us. I know there is a picture of Uncle Adin standing on his head on a HUGE snowbank with a bunch of the Taylor kids and Aunt Ethel standing there. While the snowbank looks HUGE, I know that it was probably HUGE. In the late '50's there was a blizzard. I think it was within a few weeks after christmas. It was so bad that the snow was up to the top of the barn across the road from the house. It was so bad the milk truck (and driver) was snowed in at our house for 3 days. It was so bad the snowplow and my uncle who was the driver, was snowed in there too. You know it was bad when the snow plow was snowed in! The weekend after my Mom died, in 1997, I was up at the farm and there was a blizzard. Luckily, it wasn't as bad as the other one. Probably was Ma's way of saying good'by. She could be a bit 'dramatic'.