The following was not part of the original Stauffer Newsletter. This is an excerpt from a book Lolly wrote about his life growing up on the Tuscarora Indian reservation called Growing an Indian. The original article from the Stauffer Newsletter is in the book and this is the continuation of the story about the toboggan. The book remains unpublished.
I was the one who seemed to be gaining new friends, who were hoping to get a ride on my new toboggan. It seated five of us with a little room to spare. The heavier the load, the farther down the hill we would go. So, ‘the more the merrier’, was the rapidly developing motto.
The winter snows were a lot heavier in my childhood days, or so it seemed. I figure because a kid is built lower to the ground so from a lower vantage point, the snow seems deeper.
A small incline a few hundred yards west of our house was the favored sledding hill. It was not very steep nor long, but it was close to home. When my clothes and mittens became soaked, the bone chilling trek home to the warmth of the pot bellied stove was only five minutes away.
Back then, the sledding hill we frequented was called Belan’s Hill. It was at the end of Belan’s Road, where it dead ends into Dog Street. Belan’s Road was always drifted over with three foot drifts of snow packed so solid a man could walk on top. The toboggan would glide easily and speedily for a considerable distance.
One cold morning, a few of us kids had gathered at the sledding hill for a fun filled, enjoyable day. The gusty north wind blew freezing cold snow in our face each time we went down the hill. The chilling wind seemed to blow right through the layers of clothing and it wasn’t long before I was considering going home, but we were having too much fun.
I saw what I thought was a glove sticking out of a snow drift a short distance away. After a few more trips down the hill, my gloves were so wet they began to freeze. I thought to myself, ‘maybe that glove I saw is drier than the gloves I am wearing’ so I went over to check it out. Reaching over the deep drift, I tried to pick up the glove, it would not free itself, I thought it was frozen into the drift. I dug the snow from around the glove and let out a yell when I saw there was a hand inside the glove. When I yelled, the other kids came running over to see what I had found.
We dug the snow from around what we all thought was a cold, creepy corpse. While we were checking the face, trying to determine who it was, the unconscious man let out a loud moan. He was alive, out like a light and smelled strongly of booze. After studying the somewhat askew face, we agreed that it was ‘Beaner’ who lived with his father Belan a short way down the hill.
If we left him there in the snow, his fate was surely in jeopardy. Not knowing how long he had already been lying there before we found him, there was never a doubt as to what must be done. Rolling him onto the toboggan, we headed for ‘Belan’s house’. With the stiff cold wind stinging my face, I was glad it wasn't a long trip. As we turned onto the path to the kitchen door I could see smoke rolling out of the chimney. I immediately felt warm knowing Belan had a fire going, this meant he was home.
I pounded on the kitchen door so hard it swung open. Pulling the toboggan into the kitchen, I hollered ‘hello.’ Belan answered from the front room. On over the sunken floor of the kitchen and into the front room, we pulled the toboggan with Beaner now snoring loudly.
Belan was seated, reading his Bible in front of the pot-bellied stove, its sides glowing red from the roaring fire inside. Looking up he asked, ‘what cha got?’ ‘Beaner’, I answered. ‘We found him sleeping in a snow bank, where do you want him?’ Belan told us to unload him behind the stove. ‘He will thaw out’ he said with a chuckle and went back to reading his Bible.
We stood around for a while soaking in the much appreciated warmth of the wood fire. As we prepared to leave, Belan thanked us and followed slowly into the kitchen. As I pulled the door shut, I could hear him rattling the pans and mumbling something about making hot bean soup for Beaner.
Heading home, I wondered what we would have done if it wasn’t for my new shiny toboggan. Not being able to come up with an answer, I was resolved that God does work in mysterious ways.