Tobogganing can be dangerous sort of fun

By Bob Huber: Local Columnist

Folks in these parts aren’t real familiar with deep snow, toboggans and holiday omelets, and that’s probably a good thing. But I’m recalling the now famous Great Toboggan and Omelet Debacle of 1945, an unparalleled event in the annals of winter sports, although it was heralded by some as the high water mark of cretindom.

It began when my friend Smooth Heine, who was already legendary for killing a militant skunk with his sister’s clarinet, came across an old toboggan in his father’s barn. Snow that night had fallen on the Colorado foothills to a depth of two feet, and Smooth’s eyes glistened.

Right away he pictured himself on the toboggan zooming down an icy slope, a long scarf flapping in the breeze, and girls cheering with hot chocolate in their hands and warm kisses on their lips. Smooth’s ideas were never trivial.

I should mention here that toboggans have no brakes, steering mechanism, air bags or seat belts. In fact, they aren’t meant to be ridden at all. They were horse-drawn work sleds developed in the Middle Ages to haul firewood, hay, manure and pumpkins.

No one thought to sled downhill on one. You might say Smooth was a pioneer.

So after some lengthy arguments involving human anatomy, four of us strapped that toboggan on top of Virgil Crochmire’s 1928 Hupmobile, siphoned some of his father’s wartime gas, and drove to a particularly tall hill outside of town.

That hill was 100 yards long, measured vertically, and could be described aptly as a precipice rather than a hill. Still, it had few obstacles — a lone pine tree about five feet tall, a gully and a five-strand barbed wire fence. It was covered by knee-deep snow.

Anyway, the four of us lugged the toboggan to the crest of the hill while travelers on the highway below parked to watch the festivities. By the time we turned the toboggan around and pointed it downhill, upwards of 50 cars were parked on the roadside.

I was the crew’s brakeman, which meant I had to push and then leap on the remaining 3 inches of toboggan, screaming at the top of my voice, “Left! Leeeeft!” I shouted that word because that lone pine tree was directly in our path.

We cut that tree off like a tender dandelion, spraying the air with needles, cones and splinters. The collision caused the toboggan to buck like a springboard, and I was catapulted into the air all on my own.

“The gully! The gully!” I shouted from my levitated height, but no one heard me. They were having too much fun. “Eeaaugh! Eeaaugh!” they shouted.

What happened next can best be found in the highway patrolman’s accident report. A scant 20 yards from the gully, most of the fun-loving crew abandoned ship in a snarl of arms and legs. Only Smooth remained aboard, one hand extended in the air like a bronc rider, shouting, “Wahoo! Wahoo!”

That’s when the toboggan, freed of its heaviest burden of happy frolickers, flashed unimpeded over the gully, then over the barbed wire fence, and bounced off Butch’s Hupmobile. There it made a 90-degree turn and crashed into a bobtail truck full of American Fresh Eggs, whose driver had stopped to view the merrymaking.

As it turned out, Smooth’s mother was delighted with our little adventure, because the toboggan went home in pieces the correct size to fit a wood-burning cook stove. After Smooth was scraped clean, she whipped up a mess of hot omelets for our intrepid crew.

So it’s probably good that we don’t have much snow in these parts. Guys might get notions about old toboggans in their barns, and you know where that can lead.