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Faded Pictures from a Life: Ice Skating Warming House

Ice Skating Warming House

1959

About four blocks from our house was a good size ice skating pond connected to the grounds of the elementary school I attended. Aberdeen winters were cold, very cold, sometimes reaching 30 below and wind on top of that. There were long periods where it never got above zero. We had snow, feet of snow, up to six feet of snow. But none of that could discourage kids from going ice skating.

I was never a great or even graceful skater but I could make it around the pond and have fun with equally freezing friends. And freezing we were. By the time there was absolutely no feeling in our hands and feet, our faces iced over and our eyes throbbing with pain it was time to go to the warming house.

The warming house was wooden shack-like building at the end of the pond. It had a rough wooden floor with ridges to minimize slipping with your skates. Their was an old man there who tended the heater and had the unenviable task of trying to keep us kids in line. It was the first place we went when we came to get out of our overboots and shoes and into our skates. After getting way too cold the sensation of coming into the warmth was an experience. First there was the excruciating pain of thawing out. Hands and feet were pierced with a thousand pins. That gradually faded and relief of the heat soaked through our layers of clothes and into our bodies. Snot melted and ran down our faces. Then we started to sweat from the heat and it was time to go out and start the process over again.

9″ x 12″, acrylic on shuen paper. 2021


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