January The Dreary Month

By Keith Gibson

This month has always been a dreary one for me.  It seems that way because we have just gone thru two glorious weeks of Christmas and New Year’s Eve parties and now nothing but cold.  January first is usually the day of the biggest hangover of the year and that is when new year’s resolutions are made.  Most of which will be broken of course.  I learned many years ago to only make one, then if fails I don’t have to feel very guilty.

Another brilliant idea is to make the same one each year.  I have been doing this for a long time and have never broken it.  It is a simple one, that says, I will not at any time, this year, allow some tofu to pass thru my lips.

The only good part of the month is that we still have a few days of freedom left, before going back to the rigid life of school.  In the old days we were busy with snowball fights, snowshoeing, ice skating and just doing everything that involved being wet and cold.

No TV, Iphones or computers to amuse us.  The evenings were used to play board games or build things with Tinker Toys, Erector Sets and Lincoln Logs. A lot of us liked to go to the dairy ponds and make several attempts to break some bones trying to ice skate.  The ankles were too weak to last very long.  We made crude hockey sticks and someone would bring an old boot heel for a puck.  The end result was broken sticks, sore ankles, icy wet pants and a lot of abuse of the language, either in English, Greek, Slavic, Mexican or some made up ones.  The worst thing was to have the puck sliding into the cattails.  Who ever went after the puck usually broke thru the ice and got a very cold dunking.

Another great deal was to go hunting with the new Christmas rifle.  Our first one was usually a single shot and then later one with a magazine.  The only thing to hunt was the jackrabbit.  Never did get  a shot at one of those jackelopes.  They are very hard to see and in January they have lost their antlers making them even harder to spot.

Some of us kids in the Scout Troop #64 liked to hike over the hill above Steptoe and down the Duck Creek side to a secret spot where we were building a stick cabin against a cliff.  When the weather was bitterly cold we wrapped out thin single walled boots with burlap sacks.  Some kids put pepper in their boots.  I never tried that.  A nice roaring mahogany fire against the cliff kept us warm and provided the hot coals to roast some franks and baked potatoes.  Those gourmet eateries around the world never had food that came close to our fare.

One regret from those days in the late 1940s was the lack of anybody taking pictures.  Film was not cheap and neither was the developing.  You had to take the roll of film to the McGill Drug store and Jerry would send it off to the Rex Photo Shop in Ogden, Utah.  It was 2 weeks before getting it back to see if the photos turned out.  Color film was very expensive.

The first day back to school was difficult.  We knew it would be along haul until the spring break.  After WWII, with the rationing of clothes no longer in force, a lot of new bright colored clothes helped our moods a bit.  With rubber now available the dreaded rubber overshoes were back.  Most McGill boys put them on at home to pacify the moms, but then we ditched them on the way to school.  Only sissies wore them to school.

Sometimes it was hard to keep up on all the proper things  boys had to do.