The Toboggan

It’s not really a wedding gift…it’s a gift for the future beyond that.

[In the garage]

When I was growing up in Owego, NY we had a garage that my father built using spare lumber he had accumulated since the late 1940’s. I cannot locate a proper photograph because I, more than likely, never took one. The whole structure leaned at a dangerous angle. It was never painted but it had many uses, mostly storing old oil cans, ladders, a canoe or two and a lawnmower. If you stood half-way along our driveway one could see a snarl of yellow plastic rope handing from the rafters. This was our toboggan. We rarely used it because we lacked proper slopes. You would have to drive to the IBM Country Club and find joy and thrills on the snow-covered golf course. I only took my girlfriend out for a few runs. Other than that, the toboggan waited patiently in the rafter of the old garage. My father probably acquired the sled sometime in the 1940’s.

I grew up and went to college, forgetting the old toboggan. It lay upside-down, above our ever changing cars. As my dad aged, he urged his four sons to begin claiming and cleaning the objects of our childhood. I spoke up and said I wanted the toboggan so it was handed down to me. Only in the 1970’s did I actually remove the sled from it’s resting place and took it to Pennsylvania. There it got well-used, fulfilling its function, when I took my young daughter, Erin for many pulls.

I relocated to Connecticut. I was getting older and Erin was getting heavier. The toboggan went back to it’s little home on the rafter of the garage at 420 Front St. in Owego. There it waited out many winters and watched the snow come and go.

Now, I am a father again. I have a son in his mid thirties. On October 9, 2021 he will be marrying the woman he loves. Perhaps they will choose to raise a family…perhaps not. But I could think of no better gift than to restore the old toboggan. That way, regardless of whether they have a family or not, they will get a lovingly new old toboggan to hang on their wall or hang from the rafter of a garage.

During the restoring process, I found myself challenged by a knot in the old plastic rope. It was so well tied, I needed scissors to cut the rope.

[Clipping the old knot]

In a way it was like cutting old ties to objects of my youth. The snip that broke the knot broke something in my heart.

[All done]
[Appropriate Title]

3 comments on “The Toboggan

  1. madeline m williams says:

    love the story, love the photos …again. you touch the heartstrings….childhood memories….regifting to next generation.
    Pat, you never disappoint…dont ever stop writing….


  2. Geri Lawhon says:

    Such a wonderful story of something that ties a family together.


  3. paul j hughes says:

    great story. I had a toboggan like that. It was my father’s and dated from the 1920’s. Used it in Roslindale growing up, only 4-5 times a year when the snow was good. Usually at night in the Arnold Arboretum nearby. Through high school and college. Later brought it to Ct. in the early “70s for 7 years. then it was back to my childhood home in Ros. There it sat till 1981 when it appeared at the LowHeywood school for use at a small hill behind my house.Plus in Darien
    The new kids loved it just in the yard, no hill required with a team of sled dogs called “Dad.
    ” Later it reappeared in Sparta NJ, where the sled dogs were again in operation. By then, it had several chipped and occasionally split planks and had seen better days. Plus the dogs were wearied and increasingly feeble so it was retired and committed to the “dustbin of history.”
    Gone but not forgotten. Glad yours is still operational and looked terrific in the pictures.
    So it goes.


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