NOTE: THIS EPISODE is a repeat of Episode 22,  written back on April 20, 2020.  Just when my episode project

began and when I expected the pandemic to end.  The reason I am sending it is that Marvi Ricker sent us an
ecard which featured an idyllic sleigh ride.  Warm and touching.  Dad…Arnold Red Skeoch’s sleigh ride was 
different.   Even included a ride on the old De Witt TTC cars.


I am currently finishing an episode on Harvest Excursions in 1920 with lots of Dad’s salty language.

Begin forwarded message:

From: ALAN SKEOCH <alan.skeoch@rogers.com>
Date: April 20, 2020 at 1:22:59 PM EDT
To: Alan Skeoch <alan.skeoch@rogers.com>


alan skeoch
april 22,2020


This is an earlier picture of Dad about 1940…looked much the
same by 1945 though.  
The  toboggan runs at High Park were a big attraction…sometimes ice covered
for speed.  Sleighs were not wise to be used on the  formal runs so sleighs
used the hills.  I do not remember which run dad used.   One thing sure, 
 200 pound  man on two steel runners  could go at quite a velocity.


“Red, take the boys  out somewhere, they need the winter air.”
“They’re fine in the park.”
“Take them sleigh riding with that neW sleigh…they will love iT.”
“High Park…the big toboggan run down to Grenadier Pond.”
“Long  way.”
“It is  not…catch the College Street Car…goes right into High Park.”

We had been presented with a sleigh at Christmas…maybe new, maybe used.
It was s beauty with steel runners and  wooden hand hold that could steer it.  Room
for one person.

So the three of us  mounted the old  De Witt street car  then running on College
Street.  Big lumbering ancient things made of wood.  They even once had wood
or coal stoves mid way down to provide heat.  And they rattled a  lot when moving so
the ride itself was a  great adventure for us.

Eric and I jumped off at the High Park loop and dad carried the wonderful sleigh painted
red with varnished wood slashes.  It sparkled.  Dad may have even pulled the pair
of us across the park to the western side where the great expanse of Grenadier pond 
sparkled in the sunshine.  

The long hill down to the pond was  well peopled.  Lots of sleighs and toboggans
zooming down the long slope and out onto the ice covered pond.  Dad said there
were a bunch of dead soldiers at the bottom of the pond with their cannons.  Drowned
in some war long ago when fleeing an American invasion.  Could have been bull
shit but we believed him.  The story put icing on the cake. A little more danger.
What if we fell through the ice?   

That never happened.   As a matter of fact we never even got a chance to go down the
hill on the sleigh.

“ Stand side boys,  I will test the sleigh on the first run.”
“Just to be sure it works right.”
(Now Dad was s big man…maybe 200 to 220 pounds of mostly muscle from building big tires)
“Dad, don’t break  the sleigh.”
“Shut up, here I go.”
(And  Dad soon disappeared in the crowd of people sleighing.  There was even a slight dusting of
snow falling.)
“Did  you see him, Eric?”
“At first…but not now.”
“When will he get back?”
“How soon.”
“Cold up here…wish Dad would get back up the hill.”
“Crowd down there.”
“Where is Dad?”
(We waited and  waited.   Two cold little boys in high cut boots and home made breeches … made by mom who
made all our winter clothing out of old coats.  We waited.  Waited.  Dad never returned)
“Maybe he’s down with that crowd watching something.”
“Let’s walk down and see.”
“Careful…sleighs coming.”

We  found the crowd and weaselled our way to the front where we found Dad and the sleight.  Dad was
wrapped around a tree.  Hurt.  The sleigh was a  shambles…twisted into a piece of scrap.
Some men helped Dad to his feet.  He could stand but was in pain.  As we found out later
he had broken his ribs…not all  of them but some of them.  He hobbled up the long hill.

“What about the sleigh, Dad?”
“Leave the son of a bitch there.  It was no goddamned good.”
“But Dad, it’s our sleigh.”
“Did not steer … leave it.”
“Our sleigh…our sleigh…our sleigh…”we may have whimpered.
Then again we did know Dad was  hurt.  Not sure which pain was  worst the smashed sleigh
or knowledge that dad  was injured.   I think it was the sleigh.

Later, Dad  got some doctor to bind him up.  Great white bandaged
around his upper body.  Did he stay home?  Nope.  I think he went to
work that Monday as usual.

“Mom, Dad  smashed our sleigh…can we get another?”
“Wait and  see.”
(I don’t think we ever did get another sleigh until our teen age years.
But that long hill down to Grenadier Pond is  graven deep in my consciousness.
I suppose things  could have been worse had  Dad gone through the ice to
join the British Grenadiers.

alan skeoch
April  20,  2020

Postscript.   Long years later, after Dad was  gone, I was doing weekly radio stories
every Friday for CBC radio noon with Christopher Thomas.
“Let’s do a story about the Grenadier legend, Alan.”
“Great, we can get the boys to dive down deep, maybe find the nose of an old cannon or wheel.”
“What boys?”
“Kevin and  Andy…one  has a snorkel and the other a diving tank.”
“Need permission and a boat.”
“No problem…just do not overdo the diving angle.:”

This turned out to be a bad idea in one way but a good radio story.  Kevin and Andy loved it.
Christopher Thomas got all the CBC recording gear in the boat and away we paddled.
It was  a Beautiful sunny morning.  Not many people around.  Easy to imagine what
might found beneath the mirky waters.  The boys dove.
Kevin surfaced first because he only had a  snorkel.  Andy did not surface
for a while.  Then he appeared  with both arms as black as a length of stove pipe.

“Nothing down there Dad.”
“How do you know?”
“Mud  and  crap down there….I shoved  my hands deep as I could…nothing.”
“Story may  not be true…we will never know”

My mind was spinning.  This had not been a good idea.  Danger lurked down there.
I did not ask Andy to dig through the mud.  Should have told him not to do it.
We paddled  to shore.  In the end we got a good story. 

As I looked back up the Grenadier Hill I tried figure which tree did had  hit long 

alan skeoch
april 20, 2020

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