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The Slice

The Wednesday Slice

There are drawbacks, of course.

But one advantage of having grown up in several different states is that certain childhood memories are protected from reality.

When I was about 10, my family lived on a street that inclined up and up until it stopped at the edge of some woods. On one side of the street up by that dead end, the sidewalk was a long, uninterrupted slope. It made an excellent race track for sit-down skateboarders.

One summer in the middle 1960s, the boys in my neighborhood all but wore out that hill with race after thumb-crunching race.

Sometimes there would be three rows of three racers each at the start. And, once underway, there was so much grabbing, pushing and pulling that these downhill sprints resembled seated roller derby.

It was not unusual for every competitor to have been knocked off his board well before the finish line. Sprawled over the sidewalk and adjacent lawns, the convulsively laughing skateboarders could have looked to an uninformed observer like victims of some insanely underage drinking party.

It was bedlam. And man, it was a blast.

But here's the thing. When I think about that summer, and I do at this time of year, that hill seems huge. In memory, that steep stretch of sidewalk is like a ribbon of concrete tracing a challenging ski slope.

That's because I have not actually seen it in many years. If I still lived in that town, I might occasionally be confronted by the truth.

And I suspect the truth is that my hill o' doom is actually a bunny slope of depressingly tame angle and short length.

But since the only pictures I have are the ones in my memory, it remains a formidable topographical feature.

I suppose I could check it out on one of those websites showing photos of seemingly every street in the U.S. But I fear much would be lost in translation.

To present the whole picture, the photo would have to show Johnny, Bruce, Bill, Tommy, Ken, Bob and the other skateboard racers. And it would have to show what summer looks like to a 10-year-old who thinks it is never going to end.

That would be hard to capture. But I still remember. From the top of that hill, you could catch a glimpse of it.


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About this blog

Features writer Paul Turner is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review in the Features department. He writes "The Slice" column, which appears six times a week and produces general features stories for the Today section.

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